It all began, 16 years ago, during a presentation of photos from my friend’s trip to Norway. The pictures of belongings from generations past, before a time when we had more than we needed and could get mass produced item, we needed or not, at our local Walmart or Target. The belongings that people had were beautifully and lovingly created, with skill and care. The wrought iron wood stove had an intricately decorated door. The cradle was made with care and beautifully carved. The linens and blankets were colorful and warm as fitted the climate and the people they belonged to.
I am not suggesting we go back to an imagined idylic past. The conveniences of today, living beyond subsistence, is not a negative thing. That day did impress on me an idea however; what if I chose fewer and beautiful belongings over multiple belongings. The carved wooden bowl made by human hands over 3 plastic versions. The mug or cup made by a local potter (one per family member if need be) over a cabinet full of this and that. The concept is not unlike the idea of an item sparking joy as detailed in the book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Janese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. What if you picked up each item in your home and asked yourself “does this spark joy?” The things that spark the most joy for me tend to be the timeless things that are made by people and made to last. These ideas form the basis for the objects I want to create and the business I want to build.
I often find inspiration everywhere. I love hearing of other people’s art, creative projects, skills, passions. Whenever possible we try to support local artists/craftsmen/business owners…to take part in their story. Over the past few weeks I stumbled upon a wonderful article, about a thoroughly fascinating woman named Adele Stafford. She happens to be a weaver, as many fascinating women are, so I wanted to learn more about her projects and story. That trail led me here….
Which led me here…
and then to this…
This is a great book for many reasons. The first of which is the clarification or reminder that the only thing that has really been holding me back from moving forward are my own fears. I think mainly the fear of failure. Of spending family resources (see time, energy, money) on my dream that may or may not pan out. The “what if’s” of life have become a huge dragon of resistance for me (Thank you, Steven Pressfield).
So, here is to slaying that dragon, and living as myself… instead of just dreaming it.
Here are a few projects from 2014. The first is of the herringbone towels that were my first “get to know you” project on my loom. The second is a indigo dyed wool/silk scarf/shawl for my daughter.
Happy New Year!
I have spoken before of family goals and directions. Mostly we are a household of dreamers. We find lately, merely dreaming is rather unsatisfactory; we long to do.
We are drawn to old things; old skills. When my husband writes, he does so with pen and paper…long hand. Filling smooth pages of black books. When I am most inspired it is most often by useful objects made by human hands using skills we have used for generations.
I am drawn to the loom for the skill I will need to make things in ways they have been made for centuries. Not for a nostalgia of wanting to go back, but because being makers, and making the things humans need to live, is important to who we are.
As a family, we are advancing our skills to grow things. Grow food. Our food, in the old ways, when a farm had to produce everything a family needed or at least the extra to trade for what they couldn’t buy or make themselves. We are drawn to these skills. This work.
Herringbone Twill: Warp on loom and ready to be threaded.
This week I had the opportunity to finish organizing the warp for my Herringbone Twill towels. I put in a number of hours to learn how to (and how not to) wind on the warp on my new loom. It was a pleasure to work through solutions to problems as I encountered them. I love this about weaving — to work through issues as they come up. Now that I have the warp accomplished and I am moving on to the threading process.
Thankfully, my errors don’t hurt anyone (they are not safety issues) and I don’t have to feel mortified nor apologize to anyone. It is enough for me to just be: a human being working with her hands.
I hope you all have a fabulous week.
Grand Central Station, NYC – I found myself struck by the beauty of this space, and the windows… Someone should weave these windows.
The beginning of a new year always brings out our best intentions. We want to move forward on our goals and dreams. January 1st gives us the much-needed incentive; the fresh start. The declarations that this year is going to be different. As I begin pulling together ideas and projects, even writing this post; I think, “Ah, this is familiar, my annual post about how much I am going to move my cause forward this year.” I don’t say this to be particularly hard on myself. It is, however, an obvious observation. Patrick McGowan, writes about something similar at www.commitordie.com, or rather how to think differently about how we commit to our goals. This week, however, I have stepped forward. I have finished winding a warp for towels I am weaving for myself. Herringbone twill, my absolute favorite. I have not only this project, but the next 3 planned and ready to go into motion. Ready to be the next thing to go onto the warping board. The looms have been moved away from the walls to take center stage in their half of the family room. In many ways, they now declare themselves in ways that lack the familiar guilt. This time they declare themselves accessible and available. These seem like such simple, first steps. That is true, they are. However, any movement forward, even if it is just provides a different perspective, is invaluable to taking the next step after it. B
My youngest child is a 10-year-old son. He has the heart of an artist and for people. A year and a half ago, if you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would answer he wanted to be a home daddy, artist and engineer. That was before he discovered dance. If you ask him today, there is but one answer. I am a ballet dancer. The daddy and artist part is just part of that package. Here is an interesting conversation we had in the car after school this week.
E: “I think kids are more creative than adults.”
Me: “I think you are right, I think adults forget how to let themselves be creative.”
E: “Yeah, I wonder why. I bet it is because of school.”
E: ” School and stress.”
What do you think?