Owning the energy…

Having worked my way thru countless art fairs, craft fairs, harvest festivals, farmers markets, gallery openings and gift shops, I have watched varied reactions to the price of fine art, and hand crafted items.  Too many times i have seen someone pick up one of my favorite pieces from a recent firing, one that shouted to me from the back of the kiln with its fire touched glaze, saying “look at me!! I’m here! I survived!”— and watched them glance at the price and quickly put it down, even saying to a shopping partner, “ooof, toooo expensive!”

A spinner friend of mine, Sarah, recently put a beeee-autiful piece on etsy.  Its a cowl (pictured to the left) that she knit from wool that she not only spun, but dyed previously to that.   She has taken workshops and worked for years on her own to perfect some gorgeous spinning technique.  When I asked her how she had made this piece- what kind of knit stitch and dying/spinning questions, she replied:

“This was the second half of the 8 oz roving I dyed in fiber form. I spun a singles in thick and thin, then coil plied it with three different colors of cotton/poly thread held together. It’s knit into a moebius – three rows of knit, three rows of purl – alternated.”

Wow…she did everything short of go out to the pasture and shear the sheep!  Sarah probably wouldn’t view any of what she did as a ‘big deal’… but not everyone can do that… and that is why hand crafted things cost more. They are not made by some machine in a foreign country, from a machine made polyester fiber that was made from recycled water bottles.

Items like this are made by real people, with lives and kids…pets and spouses…people that are trying to figure out how to fit in some ‘art time’, some spinning time, some potting time, in between their jobs, their obligations, their kids’ soccer games.  Real people that had a vision for the piece before it was birthed…a vision that they mulled in their mind how to make tangible, a vision that they wrestled thru with the fiber, the dye, the paint, the clay, the wire, the beads, the glass, the paper…real people that then created and breathed thru that process…and offered it to the public…

When you pick up a piece of art, a hand crafted item, you are picking up the experience of the making, you are picking up the energy of the artist, the process and birth of the piece.  You are being given the opportunity to own the evolution of the piece from birth…the story…

how do you put a price on that?

beginnings and endings

a dear friend recently commented (we were discussing knitting) that beginning and ending a project were the hardest…the beginning because you were learning the pattern and reading directions etc, and the ending because you were letting go of something.

I tend to think that most beginnings and endings are difficult…

take vacations for example… as much as i like to think of myself as spontaneous, i am not really…i am a ‘closet-planner’.   My husband, on the other hand, is a spur of the moment person, who can decide on the way to a neighboring town for a grocery trip that we should all travel to Seche Hollow to see the fall colors…with 3 kids all under the age of 12 (one in diapers). This is a true story.  Let’s keep in mind that neither of us actually knew where Seche Hollow was, we had no clothes packed and about $125 between us (in an age before debit cards, credit cards, GPSs and cell phones).  His reasoning was ‘we are already heading in the right direction’.  And if we didn’t go right then, we would ‘miss the fall colors’.  Call me crazy, but after i stopped hyperventilating at the mere thought, i went along with it…reasoning that it would be >fun<.  Now that was a difficult beginning… we did make it to Seche Hollow, after a number of wrong turns, one down a section line and into a cow pasture (my husband REFUSES to ask anyone for directions- but that is a whoooole other blog post!).  And the colors were beautiful, the trees magnificent and the quiet was sacred…and it was hard to turn around and go home.

relationships can present some challenges in the beginning…some difficulties.  The normal ones are usually:

  • does he think i’m pretty?
  • did he really mean to slam the door in my face?
  • could i learn to handle his (insert annoying habit here)?

in our case, it was “why does he KEEP driving past my house in that loud pick-up!?”

Ending relationships is always hard, i think…whether a friendship, a business relationship, a marriage.  Always difficult to end, to say that you have learned all you could from one another, to admit that this is no longer serving the purposes that it was created for, to let go for another…always hard.

beginning something new…jumping in…in that moment, you are making a commitment to explore something different…to build something.  Whether its me trying to knit socks (which i have back-burnered for the time being), a new job, riding in a hot air balloon for the first time, or a new creative piece- you are finding your way…learning…and there is so much hope, fear, excitement, wonder…

i like beginnings best.

never satisfied…

“I have a masters degree, certainly i can figure this out!” If you have been around my house in the past month or so, you have heard me muttering this, or something similar…its usually low and under my breath, as I wrestle with knitting needles. Yes, you heard me right, knitting needles.  It started with the spinning.  I do love to spin, but the yarn is piling up.  I put some of it on my etsy site, but no one wants to buy yarn from a potter, i think.

i mastered the “Knifty Knitter” a few years ago, which is this funky loom that you can make hats and scarves on.  I really love the Knifty Knitter…its easy and fun and i can make something in an evening…and for just $9.98, you too can be a Knifty Knitter- oops, never mind, felt like a commercial for a second.  The Knifty Knitter has its place, but really? How many hats and scarves can you use, or give away?  I really wanted to make socks- and reasoned that they would be similar to making hats, just with a toe and heel.  So I searched high and low for a “sock loom”- found a couple and finally ordered one.

The sock loom was no good. I was so excited, bought some special sock yarn- thought i should start with some yarn FOR socks first… a bit let down…its kinda hard to do- the pegs are small, and the yarn is fine, and well, it was going to take me forever to make a pair of socks…i had visions of socks just flying out of this little loom…i would be giving socks away, there would be so many…not the story at all…those “get socks quick” schemes never work…i should have known.

So i was back to – “i have ALL this yarn!! what am i going to do with it?” except now, we had added “and I really want to knit my own socks”.  The unspoken words in this sentence are, “and I want it to be fun, quick and easy, and i want to use all my handspun yarn.”

And then I met Judy…

back away…just back away from the weapon, ma’am…

On Friday, I went to work for the morning.  I am not really “off” in the summer- I have to put in a certain number of days during the summer.  The days can usually be when I want, unless there is a specific event that I need to be present for.  So anyway, I went in to work for the morning. I was working on scheduling students for fall classes.

Understand that I am an artist; I do not think in straight lines, or in a linear fashion at all.  My thoughts are sort of like a screen saver, a flash over here that randomly disappears, until another appears over there, and then another that overlaps, and then they both fade…well, you get the idea.  Thinking in straight lines makes my head hurt.  But I muster it up for a few tasks in my life, and master scheduling is one of them.  I was scheduling away doing fine, until I realized that there were 52 students scheduled into one section of Spanish 2, and that because of how the puzzle was together, I didn’t know what to do.  I tried several solutions, none of which worked.  I hit a wall.  I decided it was time for lunch.

When I walked into my house, from the dogfood I was stepping on, it appeared that Journi had decided to empty the dogfood dish all over the library.  Everyone was home, and no one seemed particularly concerned.  I looked around …my house was a disaster…dirty dishes on the counter, toys all over the livingroom, breakfast cereal boxes still on the table, and of course, add to this that there was dogfood on the floor…that there were dogfood crumbs stuck between my sweaty toes as I picked my way thru the kitchen. (oh yeah,  i forgot to mention it was in the 90s temperature wise too)

Is it fair to say that my day was spiraling?  I wanted to cry, to scream, to fight…

So I had a little time-out in my bedroom…took a breath, picked up the dogfood…can I mention that no one had even moved in the livingroom?

And I made up my mind to spend the afternoon doing what I wanted to do.  I Kool-Aid dyed some wool and some llama…gorgeous blue, purple and crimson.  I went to my studio and built some clay slab pieces that I have had in my mind for some time…they turned out beautiful.

The schedule nightmare is still there, and will be there when I walk in again next week…but I channeled my frustration and anger into creative energy, was able to overlook the mess in my house until I was ready to deal with it, and the bonus is I was able to get thru the day without killing or maiming anyone…so a win-win, right?