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Understanding the basics: what does “handmade” really mean?

Would you agree that the word "handmade" has lost its true meaning over time? It's been said and used so many times that the real work that goes into creating something out of nothing with your bare hands seems easy and standard. Well, it's not and in today's post we are taking a hard look at what handmade really means. Read along and discover all the elements of doing something by hand.

Understanding the basics: what does “handmade” really mean?

I like the way Oxford dictionary defines the word handmade.
Handmade /han(d)ˈmeɪd/ adjective –  made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality. This is a very standard way of defining the word, but when I think about it, the meaning expands. In this post we can go on a journey together to understand how many different aspects there are to consider when labeling a product as “handmade” and why we do it with pride for all of our items.

Hand making products can be a handful

Have you ever repeated a word so many times it loses its meaning and starts sounding like gibberish? Isn't it like that with certain keywords in the consumer dictionary? I think one of those words is “handmade” or “handcrafted”. It has been used so many times, often inaccurately, that it's lost its meaning. We no longer think about what making something by hand not only means, but requires. It always starts with an idea, that's followed by a repetitive process of trial and error. A great example from us is how we created our very first candle – part of the Naturella collection.
We had seen different colored candles with the craziest scents. Some had embellishments or decor on them. Our vision was different - we wanted to incorporate the foliage and flower petals into the candle itself. Make it a united piece. This was the idea. The trial and error started when we actually tried to do it. The process was tedious and we just could not figure it out. That made me think that there's a reason why we haven't seen a candle like this around - it just can't be done! Well, after many, many attempts, we got something that looked like we had envisioned. Imagine our joy when our new creation also performed - it was burning beautifully creating a tunnel and illuminating the foliage that's encapsulated into the wax. It was a joyous moment. It is still the same technique we use today.
This first idea and the road to a finished product was all done by hand. Hands of our family members and friends, our own hands and the hands of every single volunteer that helped. These hands were burned, cut, stained yet they created what we now proudly sell to you and others.

The meaning of hand made

Usually when referring to something as handmade, people instantly think of someone actually making it as the only added value. Kind of what the definition was saying - handmade is superior to machine made because of the human factor. I want to stretch this concept a bit and talk about different ways we use the handmade approach for the MUNIO.

The very beginning – gathering materials

We've mentioned before that our Naturella collection products as well as our body oils feature foliage and flowers. I don't think we've shared how we get them, so here's a little insight. We have gathering expeditions where we walk through our forest to collect moss, heather, bilberries and juniper. We usually equip ourselves with baskets and dig up all the foliage we will need for candle making. Some might think it's a dirty job, but actually it is quite therapeutic. We like being one with nature. Taking what she has prepared for us to harvest and in return, we focus on sustainability to protect the resource that is so important to us.
The same approach goes for marigold flowers, wild flowers and limonium. Once we've gathered all the materials, we clean them and dry them. This is also done by hand. It's an energetic exchange between us, the foliage and in the end - you!

Brewing the scent profile

I'll admit, for our core collections (Naturella, Vitale and skincare) we have the recipe all figured out. We know exactly how many drops of lavandin or orange essential oils to put in. The same goes for flower waters or hydrolates. But in the beginning, it was the same tedious process of trial and error to find the exact aroma we had envisioned. It's a very precise work with an obvious perk - the beautiful scent that lingers in the workshop. Someone held the pipet with essential oil, someone mixed the scent and someone else sniffed every single sample. A beautifully creative process that was done by humans.

Into the melting pot

It won't come as a surprise to you when I say that before each candle is poured, someone weighs the correct amount of wax to be melted, then sits down by the huge melting pot and stirs it occasionally - by hand. It's not that there aren't machines that can do this for us. Every step in our process can be replaced by a machine. We believe that the energy and love we put into our products through our hands, can be felt when you receive it and hold it in yours. Besides, by doing everything by hand, we also choose to employ master craftsmen, be greener by avoiding mass production, perfect the smaller details, and customize the process.

Pouring, placing, shaving, wrapping

Once the wax is ready to be poured, we divide it into jugs and start the pouring process. Then it's time to arrange the foliage we previously collected and dried. We carefully and precisely arrange the flowers and greenery around the candle base to create the tunnel I mentioned. This is done with a pair of tweezers or a chopstick to guarantee the placement we want.
When we're satisfied with the arrangement, the candles can set before trimming. Shaving or trimming is when we hold the candles and perfect the raw edges to create a softer, more polished look. And once that is done, we wrap each candle in a cloth and place it in a box. It took me a few minutes to write this sequence, but in reality it takes much longer to prepare. When you really think about it, absolutely everything has been touched by the hands of someone at the MUNIO studio. Even the cloth the candle is wrapped in. Our packing manager cut it.

Here's a video we filmed to highlight our handmade process

Choosing to stay loyal to our core value of being a completely handmade product, we celebrate the many ways it strengthens our community and brings us closer to our roots. When you choose to support a brand that hand makes their products, you are supporting real people who do real jobs. When we say from our hands to your home – we absolutely mean it. And now you know exactly how handmade our products are.

I hope that sharing our process brought back the forgotten meaning of the word - handmade.

the MUNIO uses 100% organic soy wax. We scent our wax with eco certified aromas – all natural and 0% harmful. If you're curious, take a look at our soy candle selection at our shop.

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