I live in Brooklyn, and if my daily subway rides are any indication, all the unusual people in the world have decided to congregate here. While many people residents of this borough ply conventional trades, a select few spend their time honing unusual crafts. The Made By Hand web series is dedicated to exploring these outsiders, the folks who work with their hands and aspire to build themselves up from nothing.
Each episode of Made By Hand explores a different craftsman, each one with his or her story to tell. So far, we’ve seen profiles of a gin distiller, a knife maker, a beekeeper, and a cigar vendor. All of these individuals eschew cold and sterile machinery in favor of a more personal touch, and the camera is sure to point this out; many of the painstakingly crafted shots in this series focus on hands at work; check out the knife maker episode to see for yourself.
Made By Hand (produced by ad agency Bureau of Common Goods) doesn’t just explore fascinating crafts; it is also a portrait of people who have turned loss or discontent into personal happiness by thriving on the fringes of society. The beekeeper has bounced around several odd jobs, while the knife maker is an unsuccessful writer. In my mind, the series is trying to communicate the idea that even when you think there’s nothing out there for you, all it means is you’re not looking hard enough.
Of course, there is a slight Luddite sentiment here, not just in the handmade nature of the goods but also in the cinematography itself, which makes sparse use of any special effects. Made By Hand, in that sense, is like its subjects; it has a fierce assertion of its own identity. This is a web series that you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I dug it.