We live in a world ruled by technology. Laptops, tablets, smartphones — they’re all seemingly indispensable, replacing human connections with digital ones, and creating a cold, shiny world of keyboards, glass screens, and aluminum. But many of Etsy’s sellers are bringing a handmade touch to tech, crafting cases, carriers, and sleeves for our most treasured gadgets. And the result is more than aesthetic.
The incredible pace of the digital world and the rapid advancements of our gadgetry stokes the creative fires of many Etsy sellers. “When new technology gets introduced into the marketplace, I start thinking of possible handmade accessories to go with the new items,” says Trendy Earth’s Nathalie Gibbs, who turns recycled sweaters into felted woolen sleeves for Kindles, Nooks, iPads, iPhones, and laptops.
“With the ever-changing forms of technology in iPhones, my creative expression is inspired every time a new version comes out,” says Jessica Woody of Eco-Friendly Freckles, whose decoupaged smart phone cases feature Jane Austen quotes, mod Barbies, and Victorian imagery. Carmen Björnald of CeeBee Recycle, who takes handwritten documents from the 18th century, coats them in resin and sews them into iPad and laptop sleeves, views new technology as a clean slate for creation. “Every time a new item is out on the market, a new door opens for me,” she says. “That’s my playground.”
It’s not only the unexplored grounds for creation these sellers find so inspiring about technology. It’s also the opportunity to take a cookie-cutter gadget and turn it into something meaningful, something no one else has despite a product’s ubiquity. “When you have the same gadget as millions of other people assembled in an anonymous plant overseas, you want to accessorize it to show your individuality,” says Terry Lischka of SewMuchStyle, who uses recycled suit coats and cotton fabric to make patchwork iPad and laptop sleeves. “That extra touch of personality takes a plain piece of technology and makes it your own.” Painter Kamara Larry, who turns iPhone cases into abstract art with strokes and splatters of brightly colored paint, agrees: “The desire to customize or personalize the objects technological devices allows us the ability to express who we are as individuals.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by other Etsy sellers. “I love to give a human touch to modern technology,” says Björnald. “It gives my creations a use in daily life.” For Larry, it’s also an awesome way to bring her work, which would normally hang untouched on a wall, into daily living. “Carrying around a piece of art that also has a functional purpose just puts a smile on my face,” she says.
And perhaps that’s the biggest benefit of all — just as customizing accessories for our constantly expanding collection of gadgets brings warmth and personality to an increasingly digital world, the technology itself gives art and craft a whole new life in our day-to-day doings. “The handmade world and digital world can happily coexist,” says Gibbs. But more than that, they help each other thrive.
Here’s a few strikingly creative tech accessories: