Made by Hand
Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World
By Mark Frauenfelder
(Portfolio Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781591843320, 256pp.)
Publication Date: May 27, 2010
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From his unique vantage point as editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes readers on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal- powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.
DIY is a direct reflection of our basic human desire to invent and improve, long suppressed by the availability of cheap, mass-produced products that have drowned us in bland convenience and cultivated our most wasteful habits.
Frauenfelder spent a year trying a variety of offbeat projects such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his daughters in the garage. His whole family found that DIY helped them take control of their lives, offering a path that was simple, direct, and clear. Working with their hands and minds helped them feel more engaged with the world around them.
Frauenfelder also reveals how DIY is changing our culture for the better. He profiles fascinating "alpha makers" leading various DIY movements and grills them for their best tips and insights.
Beginning his journey with hands as smooth as those of a typical geek, Frauenfelder offers a unique perspective on how earning a few calluses can be far more rewarding and satisfying than another trip to the mall.
"This is a must-read book. Mark has lovingly and candidly documented the complex, myriad, intangible and often very tangible rewards of grabbing the world with both of your hands, and learning how it works."
- Adam Savage, Mythbusters
"What Mark Frauenfelder knows is that making a ukulele out of a cigar box is not just fun (and finally a good use for your thousands of old cigar boxes), it's a way of restringing and retuning your whole life. Buy this book, read it, and then maybe make it into a clarinet. I bet you can!"
- John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require
"Why do otherwise well-adjusted people take to raising chickens in Studio City? What sort of contrarian spends a lot of time and money to kill his own lawn? These may be the projects of one quirky individual, but they point to something universal and true. Human beings find their proper home not in large-scale corporate structures but in the struggle for individual agency. You have to admire the doggedness with which the individuals in Made By Hand try to render their own world intelligible."
- Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
"Frauenfelder has been at the center of the emerging maker movement, chronicling its rise as an economic force. Here, he describes a parallel evolution: his own embrace of making, as he applies the lessons he's been learning to his own life. It's as inspiring as it is entertaining. You'll never look at your lawn the same again!"
- Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine
"Made By Hand is a wonderful, thought-provoking, and timely book that shows us why and how we need to take back control of our lives. Now if only Mark Frauenfelder would put out a version written by hand on paper he made from the trees in his backyard."
- A.J. Jacobs, author of The Guinea Pig Diaries and The Year of Living Biblically
"Made by Hand is an absurdist essay on 'resistentialism,' defined as 'the theory that things have a secret agenda to make us miserable by fighting back against our efforts to use them.' It is the flip-side of self-sufficiency and independence-an example of the ongoing war between HAP (hire a pro) and DIY. Do you give in to the unassailable fact that you have no idea how things work, or do you embark on a quixotic (but potentially enlightening) attempt to figure it out?"
- Errol Morris, Academy Award-winning director of Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
"Frauenfelder believes - as do I - that the DIY ethic is only partly about the things you produce. It's also about learning how to learn, about connecting with others who share your interests, and about taking pride in your accomplishments. ... I think the book is great, and I encourage you to pick up a copy if you're at all interested in DIY."
-J.D. Roth, Get Rich Slowly
"Made By Hand is a wonderfully inspiring read and makes turning to a make-centric way of life feel not only approachable, but utopian."
-Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger.com