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Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a…
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Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Mark Frauenfelder

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Member:skellybonz
Title:Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
Authors:Mark Frauenfelder
Info:Portfolio Hardcover (2010), Hardcover, 256 pages
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Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder (2010)

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While the klutzy rambling of the book is endearing, and it’s good to be reminded that a fear of making mistakes is what stifles so much DYI, the reader wishes Frauenfelder would just RTFM. ( )
1 vote adzebill | May 5, 2012 |
This book is a decent introduction to DIY for those who have not really made it a way of life. The story is basically that of the author as he and his family (though they seem to have been mostly along for the ride) delve into a life filled with less manufactured goods and more homespun endeavors. There is also some good information on how and why the American dream went from getting things done by the work of your hands to getting things at Wal-Mart. We all need to hear that story and begin to reclaim our heritage as an innovative, self-reliant culture.

The projects Frauenfelder took on provide a decent variety of DIY subjects, including some woodworking, electronics, and musical instruments. While the descriptions are fairly detailed, the detail is literary, not instructive. The projects serve to tell a story, not instruct the reader. The book is not going to do much for those already into the DIY scene, but should provide some inspiration for those not familiar with the lifestyle.

Speaking of lifestyle, the book can also serve as a window into the very particular lifestyle of the author, who is a work-from-home dad who makes a living writing for various web and print-based publications. While the story and projects are interesting and the writing style is engaging (what you'd expect given his career), the book has a bit of a 'look-at-me' flavor that may turn off some readers. I found this aspect to be present but not so bad that I stopped reading. The lifestyle part is what gets to me the most. DIY is really a more fulfilling and ultimately cheaper way to live, which the author makes clear, but the book does not bear that out. The reason for this is because the author's particular lifestyle and job situation allows for a time-consuming style of the DIY life that many readers would simply find impossible. Many people are actually trapped in the cycle of typical American life, in which they do not have the time to spend on big DIY projects because of work, etc., but do not have the money to take time from work either. I greatly wish that the author would have included more examples of simple, low-cost ideas similar to the chapter on making wooden spoons. Chicken coops with electronically timed doors and beekeeping are major DIY undertakings that are good, but too much of a commitment for the target audience, which I already mentioned is the non-DIY-but-interested demographic.

Two stars for being a decent narrative but failing to tailor the message to the correct audience. ( )
1 vote milotooberry | Dec 8, 2011 |
A very simple but enjoyable book. Very motivational at first and then it gets settled in, but is still readable. Would have been better if some DIY plans were included to get people started on projects. I plan to build a cigar box guitar like the author. ( )
  soam | Feb 5, 2011 |
This was an inspiring book - not that it made me want to do the things Frauenfelder has done, but it did make me want to get up and *do things*. I cried over the chickens and was warmed by the stories of helping his daughters learn more. ( )
  mdesive | Oct 15, 2010 |
Made By Hand is one man's exploration into the world of DIY. I found it somewhat inspiring in that I've had the idea of doing a lot of similar projects and haven't gotten around to them yet, and Frauenfelder made them seem more easy and accessible than I thought.

Frauenfelder details several projects that he took on, including growing a garden, raising chickens and bees, making instruments and re-programming his espresso maker. I feel that a lot of people would benefit by exploring their ability to make and do with things that we already have instead of buying new things, and that is really what this book encourages.

That said, I found this book to be slightly masturbatory in nature. I'm never a big fan of reading about how cool people think they are because they did something new, and that's really how this book came across to me. I've read a lot of DIY books ([book:Toolbox for Sustainable City Living|2367358] and [book:The Urban Homestead|7454476]) where you can get a sense of the author's pride without getting caught up in it.

Also, does Frauenfelder honestly not know a single female DIYer? The only people he interviews or talks about in his book are male. Women show up in two contexts: wives and daughters. He wonders why his daughter gets frustrated with science while perpetuating the myth that only men do cool things in his book. What gives?

I also found that the DIYers he talks about in his book mostly come from positions of privilege: went to a great school, got lucky in the dot com boom, work from home and have plenty of time to stay at home with their kids, etc. I don't think this book would resonate with the average American. ( )
3 vote lemontwist | Sep 9, 2010 |
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Dedication
For Carla, Sarina, and Jane
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On New Year's Day 2003, my wife, Carla, and I were sitting in the garden of a little coffeehouse in Studio City, California, with out notebooks and pens in hand.
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Recreational shopping, it turns out, is no match for recreational making.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The co-founder of BoingBoing, the world's most popular blog, goes on a do-it-yourself journey to prove that handmade is a more satisfying way to live.

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