Spinning with grace

 

“is this the way? is this how you hold it, Aunt Pat? Do I pinch like this?” I was sweating.  In my mind, teaching my 5 year old niece, Grace, to spin had been such a lyrical task.  I would show her the wool, the colors, and the textures, and I would explain how the wool came to be sheared, and dyed and carded.  And together we would learn the parts of the spinning wheel, and I would show her how the flyer spun the wool and wound it onto the bobbin.

It wasn’t going that way at all- she was miles ahead of me and treadling the wheel at warp speed.  I was trying to catch up with her thought processes, still wondering in some small corner of my mind, why she wasn’t enamored into stillness by the colors and the textures of the wool.  Determined to recover, I entreated her to treadle more slowly, giving the wool a chance to spin before it was consumed by the flyer orifice and bobbin.  She slowed a bit.

Taking this small window of opportunity- this itty bitty breather- I asked her to stop.  I peeled a narrow rope of wool from the roving.  Handing one end to her, we drafted from both ends, like a spaghetti noodle between two.  At that point, we pulled it apart in the middle.  With her focused on drafting, i was able to demonstrate how much stronger the wool was when it is twisted, rather than the fibers laying side by side.  This made the critical impression.  She showed everyone else in the house, even her next door friend, what ‘strong wool’ we were making.

Teaching can be challenging. But so often what you teach isn’t the craft itself, but the qualities associated with it- patience, diligence, craftsmanship, and appreciation for other’s work. Grace will never look at machine made yarn in the same way.  And I found that the only way to teach effectively was to abandon my lofty ideas of how it was going to go, and roll up my sleeves, catch up and get to the objective of the whole thing- making strong wool.

tomorrow we are dying with Kool-Aid, and carding…

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how to begin.

the only joy in the world is to begin…~ Cesare Pavese

beginning…i have trouble beginning.  Of all of the creative parts of a project, beginning is the toughest part for me.  I can go thru preparations, gathering, mulling, but the actual STARTING…that sticks me.

Once i start, its gravy.  I can see all the things that work and don’t work, what falls apart, what worked better in my head, what LOOKED better in my head, and it is energizing to actually SEE in a concrete sense what i have been seeing in my head, what i have been theorizing.

So how can you get yourself to START?

Here it is- step by step

1. Put your hands on your sketch or if you have no sketch, close your eyes and picture your finished project in your head.

2. Gather your materials and put within reach in your work space.

3. Picture your finished project in your head.

4. Deep breath…reach up high, and reach down and touch your toes.

5. Picture your finished project in your head.

6. Pick up each of your materials and put them each down.  Do this several times.

7. Picture your finished project in your head.

8. Put everything away for the day and go for a drive…just kidding 🙂

Actually, this is the sticking point- do it! Put pen to paper, start writing, or pick up your paint brush, or put the clay in your hand – but it is time to try to make what is in your hand match what is in your head…

and here is the deal…if this project was going to go easy, you would have already done it- so be prepared for 2 or 3 or 27 false starts or practice/trial runs…in fact, try to figure out how NOT to make it work first- trying the beautiful floaty, ethereal idea you have in your head first may be what is stopping you flat.  So test your ideas out on trials first and see how it goes.  Get those out of the way!  Don’t even attempt to make the first thing you try the Golden Finished Product.

I have, at times, been paralyzed by the fact that i only had enough of a certain material…i didn’t want to waste it if the project didn’t go right, so i just didn’t begin.  In this situation, practice with a lesser equivalent of your coveted material, or pull it out of your project- its a problem.

once you know what will work and what won’t, that beautiful floaty ethereal idea in your head will begin to take on concrete dimensions in your head, AND in your workspace.

Go forth and conquer!

don’t let the technical monsters eat the creativity!

Coolest Commercial EVER!!

i had a brilliant sculpture professor in college- Lynn Carlsgaard- there in the middle of the photo, with the apron on.  He had a passion for bronze casting, but that never stopped him from offering instruction, assistance or direction in any creative direction to anyone who had a question.  He has a raucous sense of humor, and made me laugh in a way that made me put my hand over my mouth, because i felt it was probably not OK to laugh, but he was so funny…in an off limits sort of way.   One thing that he said, that i have said over and over to others, that i mutter to myself when i am mulling a project that seems technically overwhelming…those projects i can see in my head, but can’t figure out how its going to hold together in a concrete sense.  He said to never let the technical issues get in the way of the creative process…he probably didn’t say it that way- he probably laughed “heh heh heh” and said, “Patti, figure out the technical later, keep going with what you got right now” (I went by Patti for the first semester in college- thought it was a cool thing…it wasn’t.)

that concept has helped me over and over- that the vision of a project, if its strong for you, if you can see it clearly- it can carry you thru the technical struggles that make that vision seem impossible.  Carry thru the drawing, the gathering of materials, the obsession with a finished idea in your head, and START! You have to play with things, find out things that don’t work, so you can get thru that stage to the “putting together” stage.

an amazing demonstration of that -persevering thru the technical forest- fell into my lap this week! Tom Eastburn, a potter that is in a neighboring town, put this youtube video on his Facebook…LOVED it and i wanted to share it with you!  Its actually an Asian commercial for a cellphone that has a wooden back, but the artist who had this vision…wow!  I think you will love it!  Am interested to hear what you think!

here is the link again! Coolest Commercial EVER!!

enjoy~

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