For as long as I can remember I have been inclined to make things. I'm not alone in this inclination, but not everyone has this "urge". It can be a challenge at times to try and explain this need (yes, need!) to make to someone who doesn't share the drive, but it is such a joy to connect with someone who does. And over the last few years there has been such an explosion and validation of makers that has made it easier to understand and appreciate whatever genetic component determines us.
How can we encourage a culture of making at the same time we are becoming so digitalized? For myself it is the perfect complement to work that is based on the computer and tablet. I love stepping away from the screen and back to the project at hand, whether it be fabric and thread, or metal and heat, or paper and glue.
I wish that I sketched and painted more these days and I always think that I will, but something's going to have to force me there. I need a class, an instructor with assignments and deadlines, something more than just my unfocused desire.
Thanks to my husband I now have a work table downstairs in a newly insulated laundry / closet / storeroom that I can use as a studio space for soldering and other work that I just haven't had a space for. It's just that it has been so dang cold that unless the dryer is running I can't be down there for long. I have to time the laundry with my making time in order to render the studio useful. That will change - it'll begin to warm up with the changing of the seasons - and I'm happy to know that the space is there.
This winter has been all about fabric and thread. This project, part of my vow to wear less, wear American, and wear what I make, has been quite the investment of time. I started this way back at the VVR - cutting out the pattern on the restaurant tables we had pushed together for the closing staff.
I stenciled the fabric on the dining room table of our winter cabin. The stencils have been a challenge for me - I first tried making my own stencils by cutting the pattern out of plastic with an xacto knife, but that was difficult. I couldn't seem to get the shapes cut out smoothly. Our local Ben Franklin store carries a few stencils and I've found a couple that I like - this is one of them. Another thrift store score was a couple of Ralph Lauren wall stencils. And finally I ordered (but haven't used yet) an Alabama Chanin stencil.
It took an entire sharpie to stencil both sides of this smock! And then the sewing began. Hours and hours of movies and favorite TV shows, spools of button and craft thread, and the steady movement of needle and thread through fabric.
My husband is a little disappointed that I've left him with only one fingerless glove this winter... I knitted one up while on the road in October, then started this project and the knitting has been left unfinished. There are only so many hours of "making" available in a day, though.... work, and housekeeping, and dogs, and horses, and the great out of doors are all competing for time.
And before this project is even completed the next one is begun.
Because a maker doesn't like to have gaps between projects.
I'm glad to be part of a community of makers - call us craftspeople, artists, whatever. I love seeing what other people dream up and enjoy that the same thing can be created a million different ways. I miss my "Art and Soul" retreats with my sister, an incredibly talented maker.
My husband is getting it - this isn't a hobby or a dabbling. The need (yes, need!) to make things is part of what defines and validates me. There's no question that I'll have a project of some sort going all the time. Traveling? No problem. Take along a small project. Finding time will happen. I've always been good at making time for myself (call me selfish) but I believe it makes for a happier person and a happier person has the capacity to help others be happy.
The internet and the explosion of visual sharing has been inspiring. I'm no longer limited to retreats and the people around me in our small community (although there is plenty of artistic inspiration around these parts). Pinterest, Facebook, and the RSS feeds of the blogs I follow provide daily creative candy.
Before I can even complete one project there's another one begging to be started. Like books, which I always used to worry about (that I'd read all the good ones and there would be nothing left), there seems to be a limitless amount of creative energy, ideas, and inspiration out there. My challenge will be to not pile up so much fabric that I can never use it all, to not stockpile stencils that will molder in storage. To not fear the space between projects.
Are you a maker? Do you keep a blog or a Pinterest account? If so, let me know.