Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

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This morning I was listening to Matt Galloway interviewing Jennifer Allison on his CBC Toronto Metro Morning radio show. Honestly, I expected more from Matt Galloway and the CBC. Jennifer sounds like an ambitious young woman trying to cobble together a living from teaching a hobbyist’s version of shoe making. Good for her – but what about the hundreds (or thousands) of skilled artisans in Ontario and the rest of Canada, who have spent years learning an artisanal skill in order to produce quality products?

Travel To Exotic Places To See Local Craft

We hear a lot – too much frankly – about people who travel to exotic places and see locals working, often in appalling conditions with few tools, making what are often remarkable things, to be bought up on the cheap and sold to people in the developed countries. They come back from their trip full of exciting ideas to teach or make crafts, sell them and make lots of money in the process.


This is not the same thing as an artisan who has learned their skill through many years of apprenticing, who maybe takes on a couple of new apprentices and passes on their skills to the next generation. An artisan’s studio or gallery where you can go in and talk to the maker about their product and perhaps order custom work is a “real” business built over time and based on a high degree of knowledge and skill.

Craft Hobbies

Crafts as  hobbies are fine, wonderful in fact, but lets not confuse that with what professional, skilled artisans do – please. I acknowledged that many hobbyists are very talented artists in their own right. This post is in no way intended to diminish that fact. It’s just that it seems as though “the media” is often unbalanced in their presentation of the situation. There seem to be lots of short news stories about young entrepreneurs leveraging the growing “makers” movement to boot-strap themselves into their own business.

I appreciate what they are up against and the work it takes to build any business. However, I believe there should be more news stories and interviews about existing small businesses, built on local skills, making quality products with quality materials. Those people are also trying to make a living and support their families. They are in a position where they must charge a price that supports a real living wage. The media could help our local economy and our communities by spreading the message that buying a quality product that lasts is better and more satisfying on many levels, than buying most mass-produced imported products. This is particularly true with custom-made products, where the buyer and maker have actually met.

It’s time to start separating the wheat from the chaff!


Definition: “separate the wheat from the chaff”

  • to separate what is useful or valuable from what is not
  • good products will have lasting appeal, and the rest will be forgotten
  • to choose the things that are of high quality from a group of mixed quality


A Real Artisan At Work