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?

Advertisements

“i knew you would want this…”

I spun for 2 hours yesterday…no music on, no TV, no distraction…just the whirring of the wheel…it was a precious time- felt like it was one of those fluffy dandelions that is captured in the glass paperweight… safe, soundless and insulated.

last fall when i returned to school for the year, my dear friend Karen came to me with a garbage bag in her arms.  She presented it to me and said, “I knew you would want this.”  Turns out she had sheared her llama, Bella, and apparently at some point in time, I had told her that if she ever did clip Bella that I would love the fleece.  I had no recollection of this, but that’s not unusual…i say things like that.  So here i was… with several pounds of unwashed unpicked llama fleece.  I ventured a look in the bag when I got home.  Yep.  That’s what it was.  I stashed it in the waterheater room.  Every so often I would glance at that trash bag and wonder about what i was going to do with it…and then would be distracted by something more urgent.  I had absolutely no idea what i was going to do with this fleece- I didn’t spin, i didn’t knit, i didn’t crochet…in fact, i didn’t know really anything about fleece, except for one failed attempt to make a drop spindle from a Mother Earth News article years ago…and so it sat…and i ignored it.

…until someone mentioned a spinning class in Hot Springs in March…and the rest is history 🙂

life has changed in the past year…my empty nest is full for a time…

so thankful for this quiet tactile colorful art, that allows me to be creative during this time in my life…and so thankful for a friend who “knew you would want this”, even if i didn’t.

kicked out of the Farmer’s Market…

never been much of a hell raiser…tried to stay out of the way of trouble most of my life.  Apparently my track record has been tarnished.

remember my earlier post about the Farmer’s Market, how much i loved the atmosphere, the people, the low pressure to sell…just sitting in the sun, and enjoying the residents of Custer?

well, while i was visiting my sister, the Custer Farmer’s Market was ‘taken over’ by the city and moved to Way Park by the courthouse.  And new ordinances were drafted making it only open to ‘agricultural product’…and pottery is not agricultural..

So after setting up my table, putting out my product in our new location, unloading my car and unfolding my chair, I was asked to leave…and so I re-packed my pottery in boxes and baskets, folded up my table drapes, and with help of my friend Sarah and her daughter Megs, carted everything back to my car…feeling like the kid that didn’t get picked for a team on “I Send” cuz i can’t run fast enough… sad to leave my new friends, and the open air market atmosphere…no longer belonging…

sad today…

i am trying to find the lesson in this, trying to pull some inspiring message from the bottom of all of this…but i am just sad.

 

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…

Love the one you’re with

Did I tell you about the Farmer’s Market!?  Last week i was out and about doing a bit of garage saling, and came across a sign – itty bitty sign- for the Farmers Market here in town.  I thought maybe there might be vegetables, and i LOVE homegrown veggies.  There wasn’t.  But what there was was a little collection of a few souls braving a chilly Saturday morning selling their wares.  There was Herb- selling home made scones and bread, Sarah- selling fiber and handspun yarn- and a wonderful woman (whose name escapes me at the moment) selling home made jams and jellies.  I spent a bit of time talking to Sarah, telling her i learned how to spin last winter, of course buying over $30 of fiber, and asking if the market was open to anyone.  She explained that for the small price of $20, one could set up and sell handmade crafts.

Many years ago I used to sell at many craft fairs- paying up to $300 for a booth fee. There are ins and outs to this game, such as picking the right fair, and time of year, bringing the right merchandise, and gauging your competitors.  I gave up the craft fair circuit, deciding the cost and difficulty of traveling- often with children- didn’t pay in the long run.

But here was an opportunity, right down the street, for $20/week…no travel required…i didn’t have to pack pots for a trip equal to a covered wagon voyage over the Rockies…and only 4 hours of time, not an entire weekend eaten up in travel and sitting.

this could work.

So i finished glazing a load of pots, threw them into the kiln and fired on Thursday, hoping to unload on Friday and take them to the market on Saturday.  It sortof worked out that way.  My kiln didn’t fire the way i was hoping- a pyrometer malfunction late at night left me firing blind til 3am.  The pots were …eh…OK.  Not my best work, but I had a challenge and i was determined to take something to the Saturday morning soiree.

I persevered.  Priced pots, packed them and procured my bags/newspapers and a money box.  Got a table, figured out a way to display and packed the car.

Saturday morning found me sitting in the sun, drinking coffee out of a thermos, eating one of Herb’s home made scones, and chatting with Sarah.  The buying crowd was scant, preferring fresh rhubarb (from Mr. Gordon at the end of the market) and Herb’s bread to pottery.  I sold one mug, which paid for my booth fee.

but you know what? I had a fabulous time!

connecting with people that are willing to come out on a Saturday morning to buy a scone or look at pottery was invigorating!  when i used to do big fairs, it was about the money and could i recoup my booth fee? Could i deal with the fact that a guy next to me who was selling plywood cutouts of women bending over in the garden was selling out, while i was only managing to unload low dollar items?  Was I going to clear enough inventory to make room for Christmas items for the next fair?  It really all came down to money- and it soured me on fairs.

this on the other hand was about sunshine, scones and simply sitting and enjoying the day… i have grown.

 

I’m all adither!

Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past. – Alexa Young

 i’m going on a trip!  i never go on trips, like just for me…i go to visit my kids, to a training, a conference, a leadership seminar… and the whole time I am gone, i am thinking i should be home…that there are things i might be doing, if i were spending this time …

  • sketching
  • potting
  • spinning
  • writing
  • working on my kiln
  • glazing pots
  • writing a business plan
  • blowing bubbles with Journi

it doesn’t mean i WOULD do these things if i had stayed home, but it is a quick and easy, convenient way to guilt myself out and make sure i don’t enjoy whatever trip i am on…

but i’m 50 now, you know.

 i am making a concerted effort to enjoy each moment, to breathe it in…to live every day of my life.

a few days ago when my husband said, “we need to just take off for a week and go somewhere” (keep in mind, he doesn’t like to travel, he likes being home with the pets and his garden and Journi)…my mind stuttered a bit, with all the reasons that we couldn’t, shouldn’t go… and really…where would we go anyway!?  (do you see me shaking my head at the ridiculousness of the whole idea!?)

out of nowhere…a gypsy spirit struck me this morning, whispered in my ear …and i remembered a long ago (my god, Michaela was 5!…she is almost 20 now) failed trip to the cliff dwellings in Colorado…why not!?

and really…seriously….why NOT?! 🙂

so you may see some road tripping blog posts coming up quite soon! stay tuned!

color junkie

Inspiration is a message in a bottle from the distant shore, a window into the other world, a tap of the muse’s finger, the grace of the gods.  It comes when you least expect it.  ~ Phil Cousineau

Update: my etsy shop has a creation called “message in a bottle“- check it out 🙂

so there is a woman on Etsy.com, her profile name is ‘girlwithasword’ and she is from Iowa, and her yarns are … words escape me, they are mouth wateringly gorgeous…and its the colors, some are earthy and some are soft and warm, and some are what you would see at sunset in the Grand Canyon… and they inspired me!

(Imagine ‘superman music’) Dant-tuh- DA! I want to BE Girl with a Sword! I want a houseful of beautiful yarn like that! I want overflowing baskets of it hither and yon in my house!  I can do that, right!?

So I bought Kool-Aid, and Rit dye and got out my wool and kettles and set to dying!

I found out that Kool-Aid does a stunningly silent job of dying.  You wouldn’t expect that, but it does!  Kool-Aid is underrated!  And here is the miraculous part, you add the Kool-aid to the hot water, dissolve it, add the wool, let it sit til cool, and when you go back to take out the wool, the water is clear (whisper ‘its like magic’)…and your wool is brilliantly colored.  I made Orange Orange, and Blue Raspberry and several others.

Rit dye does OK, but it doesn’t do the clear water trick, and its harder on the wool- feels more like your hair when you bleach it or dye it too much…sort of damaged.

And so i have all of these awesome colors of wool! While they were drying, i visited them, held them next to one another, matched them up and fawned over them.

And you know what? I don’t want to be Girl With A Sword anymore… I like my stuff better, and my colors are more me…that is inspiration from another, when you are moved to get up off of your butt and create something…even if you want (dant-duh-DA) to be someone else for a moment…in the end, if you are you again, its OK 🙂

PS…how’d you like that message in a bottle quote? Did you see how i did that? 🙂

spinning…centering

Spinning with Journi

Spinning with Journi

So as I alluded to earlier, I took a class in how to spin wool this past winter.  Only 3 of us and the teacher.  One of the other two students, a lady named Janet, had a spinning wheel and wanted to take the class so she could make sure she was doing things right.  The other woman said she knitted quite alot and for some reason, I felt that she also knew how to spin.  I was thinking…”oh shoot, I am the only one who doesn’t know what is going on here…”

And I was very nervous about trying to learn something new…want to learn myself, without someone standing over me.   i tend to drop out of stuff that doesn’t come easy- i get embarrassed that I can’t be perfect immediately.

Initially I probably would have had more luck trying to spin with my feet, because it felt just that awkward.  Our teacher was really good not hovering, she helped if you wanted help, but mostly she let us work it out ourselves.  Janet was a stellar spinner, one hand pulled the wool from the wad she had in her other hand, and fed it toward the spinning flyer in this slow methodical rhythm.  Looking at her, she seemed to be actually relaxed, not stressed about doing it ‘right’, sortof looked like she was even having fun.

And then Terry, our teacher, brought out some raw unprocessed wool…wool that just been sheared off the sheep and bagged.  She gave us each a handful and told us to try it out…my breath caught as I rubbed that wool between my fingers.

We raised sheep when I was a girl, and they got sheared every year on Mother’s Day.  It was always hot, and dusty in the shearing shed.  My job was to bundle the sheep’s wool after the fleece was clipped free of the sheep and she ran bleating back to the herd.  We had this paper-like twine that I wrapped around the big bunch of wool…around and around like wrapping a gift with ribbon.  Going around the back of the large bundle of wool forced me to bury my face in the wool, using both arms to try to keep the wool up and out of the dirt.  The wool stuck to my sweaty face, fibers in my mouth, nose, eyes and the creases of my neck.  It was loud in the shed with the noises of the electric shearing clippers, sheep bleating, men shouting.

Just the feeling of the wool in my hand brought all of this flooding back and I was speechless…and a bit teary.  Until that moment, i never connected spinning with anything other than a nice earth-mother type of craft that I wanted to learn.

I pulled the leader out on my bobbin, threaded it thru the orifice and feathered some of the brown sunburnt wool onto the leader.  I started the wheel spinning with my hand and with the wad of wool in my right hand, I pulled and fed it toward the orifice with my left.   It was working…I could hardly believe it.  The spun wool was winding onto the bobbin, nice thin yarn like Janet’s…I was delighted.

Focus…

center…

when i began the class, I was all over the place…worrying about how inept I looked, admiring other people’s skills, feeling out of place and ridiculous.  Feeling that wool somehow grounded me.  When we are feeling ‘all over the place’, worrying about others…and not finding that place of energy, quiet and ideas inside ourselves…we are not feeding our creativity.  We are pouring it down the drain.

What grounds you? centers you? focuses you?

What activity helps you find that place of energy, quiet and ideas inside of yourself?

(I added a picture of Journi and I spinning llama wool yesterday…she likes to sit with me :))

have a brilliant day,

pat

Top Clicks

  • None