What is the difference between handmade and handcrafted?

What is the difference between handmade and handcrafted?

In the last decade, there has been a shift from mass-produced or machine-made goods to handmade and handcrafted products. This change has evolved into a movement known as the "handmade effect," which has impacted virtually every industry worldwide. 

Today, countless products ranging from luxury goods, clothing, accessories, and even cars to everyday items, cosmetics, and furniture are handmade. 

Popular and well-known brands such as Hermes, Goyard, Anthropologie, Aesop, and many more promote their products as handmade or handcrafted.

But, what does handcrafted mean? What is the definition of handmade? While these two terms are closely related, and most people use them interchangeably, there are slight differences or distinctions worth mentioning.

Women artisans of Africa weaving handmade goods from natural materials  


Generally speaking, when a company, brand, or person refers to handmade or handcrafted, it usually means the same: that the product or piece was crafted by hand and not by a machine. 

Nonetheless, technically speaking, these two terms are not the same. The significant difference between "handmade" and "handcrafted" is how involved the crafter or artisan is in the product-making process. 

Both techniques indeed demand the use of hands for their creation. But, handmade is frequently understood to mean that machine production may have contributed to the production of raw materials or parts but that the assemblage was made by hand. 

Handmade vs. Handcrafted


When something is labeled or said to be "handcrafted," on the other hand, it means it was made entirely by hand or with the use of simple tools (e.g., knife, needle, paintbrush.) Hence, there was no machine involvement in the creation of the goods. 

In case you still have doubts, let's illustrate the difference between the two words with a few examples. A bracelet could be handmade even if the artisan did not craft from scratch the beads or materials used to make it. Or a skirt can be handmade if it was sewed by a person even if the raw material (i.e., sequins, fabrics, zipper) were not made by hand. 


When deciding to buy products or items made by hand, it is not a matter of whether handcrafted is better than handmade or vice versa. 

In other words, you should not base your decision on whether it was made entirely by hand or if a machine was used in the process. In the end, it all comes down to a few things:


Certain products can't be handcrafted as they entail a degree of sophistication or precision that requires the use of machinery. For instance, leather and genuine wood are lavished on the interiors and seats of luxury cars. And while much of the work is done by hand, machines are always involved in the assemblage. 


Woman artisan from Africa holding a raffia coaster she made by hand

Depending on the artisan's skills and experience making the product, a handcrafted good can be superior to a handmade item. 

Expert artisans usually are very detailed-oriented and will thoroughly examine each piece for quality assurance. Furthermore, handcrafting has its roots in rural arts, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries.

Nonetheless, amateur crafters or artisans who are just starting might not have mastered the tasks at hand, affecting the result of the product or piece they create.  


Lastly, it is crucial to consider the materials being used to create the goods. Handcrafted products usually use natural, locally-sourced materials. As a result, we have more environmentally friendly practices and processes, which in most cases also translate into higher quality materials.

The quality of the raw materials

For instance, when you buy a jute handbag crafted by skilled artisans from Bali, Indonesia, you can be sure that the raw material is 100% natural and locally sourced. Thus, the bag's quality will be much higher than a piece made by hand but that used synthetic nylon that resembles jute. 

As you can see, there is no definitive answer! Some products are better off handmade, while many others will have higher quality if handcrafted

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Raffia African Basket Bowl

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Now that you understand the subtle differences between handcrafted and handmade goods, you're ready to start shopping for unique and beautiful pieces made by hand

Look for items that have descriptions that outline the level of involvement the crafter had, the materials used in the process, and even where the product was made. 

And remember, while one is not inherently better than the other, both will support small businesses, artisans, and artists. 

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We invite you to browse our vast collection of handmade and handcrafted goods ranging from baskets and tabletop decor to accessories, fragrances, and pillows. All ethically crafted through small-batch production with all-natural ingredients and materials. 

At Sunday & Lola, everything you buy comes with a promise: that is good for your body and soul, the makers, and ultimately the environment!

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Check out our collections at sundayandlola.com!

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