Thursday, 12 December 2013

Slow la revolution!

I've been mulling for a while on this one, and contemplating how to write a blog post without it sounding like a rant, or a moan, or digging myself a hole.  And then along comes Mill Girl and says it all so elegantly and graciously, I hardly need to say anything else at all.  Thank you Mill Girl.  What you have said is important and appreciated!

Not that her "gentle rant" needs adding to at all, but let me say a couple of things from a personal perspective.

Making a living from a craft you are skilled in is both a gift and at the same time a source of anxiety.  It truly is.

Show prep.

Show prep from a few years ago.  All those little houses!!!

I love my job.  I love that I get to create "beautiful things from the fabric of life" as my tag line goes. I so love that it blesses people and that things I have made with my hands are now in people's home across the world being cherished.  That is an awesome honour.  Thank you!

The flip side is this. And this isn't easy to write, for so many reasons!

I want to make lovely things and if I can pull myself up by the shoelaces and get over the voices telling me I'm a failure and I've missed the boat, there is nothing I love more than the buzz of being in my studio with a new idea and a whole heap of fabric and trimmings!  Yay!  Heaven!

This year's Christmas Angels. 


Every day is also full of the essential bits too.  The emailing, the posting, the sourcing of materials, the tidying the studio from the last project, the researching new techniques, the ordering a new tool, the dealing with a package that got ripped up on its way to a customer, the teaching myself from scratch how to do something, the networking with other crafters, delivering to shops, worrying about how much stock to make, worrying that I'm getting it all wrong.....I'm not saying this is ANY different to what any one else does in their normal every day working life. 

In fact, that's the point.

This is my every day working life.

I trained for 6 years in total and I am still learning new skills every day.  There was a point a couple of weeks ago, where I had no idea HOW on earth I was going to make this.....

 .....but somehow, drawing on the knowledge you build up that is stored in your hands and heart as an artist, eventually, it flows out of you from somewhere and it is done.  Even if it is 1.33am on the morning it needs to be finished.

I guess what I am saying, is that I want to echo what my fellow crafter and blogger has so eloquently put.

It really does take years to build up skills and knowledge to make something beautiful.  Someone like my friend Lisa from The Fernery has spent years teaching her hands how to do what she wants them to and produce that exceptional embroidery on her pieces.  The papercut artist work I am sure you have drooled over, has been perfected through cut fingers and aching backs, getting it wrong, feeling disheartened and then pushing through till it's right. 

The Trug basket maker who presents you with that elegant sculpture of willow and chestnut.....has devised his own technique for steaming the wood, built his own steamer, sourced and cut down the trees himself and whittled and shaped them into the most beautiful shape you could imagine. (My Dad taught me most of what I know of the gentle and patient art of craft).

This rambling post is mainly to say - the words that stuck out to me in Mill Girl's gentle rant were "slow craft".  These exquisite objects we see and desire take time. Lots of it.

I am aware that I am privileged to be able to do what I do.  In a year's time, when all five of my children are finally at school....if this doesn't work; if I can;t make it work.... I will be looking to do something else.  That's the honest truth.

I am privileged, but I am going to have to earn my place here, alongside the other worthy crafts people who have forged their skills in the desperate early hours before a show, or a project that just won't come together, or in the tears because they have to start again and it was an expensive mistake.

I will have to earn my place.

And that is why I am happy to pay properly for slowly crafted beauty when I see it.

A lovely little gift that arrived yesterday from the very talented Mrs Marmalade.  Here's a lady who effortlessly blesses those around her with her joy and colour.