"Labor is not just a meaningful experience – it’s also a marketable one. When instant cake mixes were introduced, in the 1950s, housewives were initially resistant: The mixes were too easy, suggesting that their labor was undervalued. When manufacturers changed the recipe to require the addition of an egg, adoption rose dramatically. Ironically, increasing the labor involved – making the task more arduous – led to greater liking. "
So begins the article by Michael I. Norton of the Harvard Business School. This reality, how we are sometimes fond beyond the value of an end product when our labour is involved in production, is known as the "Ikea Effect". So named, it explains how generations of Ikea shoppers are still so proud of the slightly wobbly book cases that they assembled then moved around with them since graduation 20 years ago, or the pot rack painstakingly hung from the ceiling of a first home, or the kid's bed knocked together with such pride to mark the passage beyond toddlerhood.
I understand this phenomenon and see it alive in the dish cloth that my 9 year old knit for my mother over a decade ago, which still comes out every Christmas. There is no question that we are unusually proud of our accomplishments, no matter their aesthetic appeal to the rest of the world, but I'm getting a little sick of the tone of the non-DIYs of the world. Their beliefs insinuate that we who are willing to take a chance on our skills and our ability to learn and express ourselves creatively are to be looked down upon as not sophisticated enough to accomplish something that can be valued by others.
In the days when goalie, Jacques Plante, helped his mother by knitting socks, mitts and long johns for his younger siblings, crafting wasn't chic, it was a necessity to acquire the things one needed to keep warm in the winter. But even in our grandmother's day, who can tell me that women spent countless hours knitting fashionable 3 piece suits or "twin sets" of the finest fingering yarn for the savings they would achieve. I believe that many of these people were driven to express themselves and often produced garments that were beyond anything available in stores.
For the ultimate book dedicated to encouraging the hidden artists within each of us, read Julia Cameron's book: The Artist's Way. You'll never be critical of "homemade" attempts at creativity again.
By the way, here's the link to the full article on the Ikea Effect.