Out of a slump, and into spring

Oh, it’s finally here! Spring has happened suddenly in montreal – in the space of two weeks we’ve moved firmly and decisively into 25 degree weather, sandals and sunglasses, and sprouty things galore pushing up everywhere. It’s grand.

Look, plants all over the patio!

With the changing season there’s been a parallel surge of change in my life, too. My partner and I have decided to move to Toronto at the end of June, it’s official now. She has been accepted to a graduate studies program there and has received a rather large award – certainly more money than we have seen in one place in quite a while. So we have been abuzz with ideas and plans the last few days, discussing and dissecting all the various things that accompany a major relocation. It’s exciting. It’s a bit scary. I wish it wasn’t happening so soon.

I’ve also been back at Looolo more regularly again. It’s funny, though. Not the work itself, which is fine, but just the situation itself. I have developed an easy and comfortable working relationship with my boss – she feels more like a peer than an employer most of the time. She respects and recognizes the value of my ideas and I have a lot of creative freedom with the new designs we are working on now. I feel that when we work side by side we are equals. Which is a pretty cool, empowering feeling. The problem is that we are most certainly not peers. She is my boss. She has all the power. She gets all the credit for my problem solving and design ideas. I am subordinate to her, and invisible to her clients, and she certainly does not pay me anywhere near enough for the quality of work, physical and mental, that I give her. This chafes me.

On the other hand — it’s also a huge ego boost. Because I see in the context of her business and how easy it has been for me to assume that responsibility, how very skilled I am and the knack I have got for not only design, but for the execution of them. I mean, obviously I still have a lot to learn, and the particulars of running a business itself are still a mystery to me, but that confidence — it’s priceless. Even aside from all the practical, hands-on experience I have gained as a seamstress, this job has opened my eyes to all the other skills I have, given me a meaningful context in which to apply them. Or at least an inkling of how I might do so. Especially now that I know for certain that this employment relationship is ending rather soon, I feel like every time I go to work I’m keenly aware of all the information I’m absorbing, for free. So I figure it all evens out in the end.

So I’ve been feeling more motivated lately… you’ll have to stay tuned for what it might develop into, but in the meantime it’s a great feeling, in and of itself.

All these pretties you see above were a delightful gift recently, from my good friend J, who had the sad duty of attending a family funeral lately. Apparently, J’s grandmother had a fierce love of all things rhine-stoned and bling-tastic (the lady had taste!), so J, knowing I share the affliction, brought me back some of her costume jewellery. Yes, I said some. J says there are still 2 huge rubbermaid bins of jewelery at the house, even after all the interested family members have had a look through and taken some things for themselves. The mind boggles. It’s all quite old – I’d guess it mostly dates from the 30s – 50s? but i’m no expert. All I can tell is that each of the pieces is well made – glass rhinestones and metal settings, no glue or plastic. There is an integrity to the craftsmanship that is so satisfying. One day I may rework some of the pieces into new brooches, bracelets, earrings, perhaps… but for now I am very content to just admire them. They’re very sparkly. I like sparkly.

And here are some fat quarters I got at the quilt shop in North Conway the other weekend. No idea what I’ll make from them, but aren’t they nice? Hmm hmm, I’m a sucker for the pretty things….

Oh, and here are some better pictures of the finished sweater, finally, now that the pockets are complete too. This is the cardigan/coat that I made out of a looolo blanket that was damaged at the mill – one of the needles on the knitting machine broke when no one was watching, so the blanket became righteously unravelled all down the center. Obviously unsellable – but I was very happy to take it off my boss’s hands. It’s organic wool, in one of her custom designed knit patterns, this cool nubbly texture. After fulling in the washing machine, the wool softened up and shrank by about a third, the knit packing together to make a dense, thick fabric.

The grey fabric is remnants of organic cotton that we use to make the pillow inserts at looolo. It stabilizes the knit across the shoulders, cuffs, hem, pockets and collar, to keep the knit from stretching.

I’m really proud of my pockets – firstly because they improve the practicality of the coat substantially (who wants a coat with no pockets? really.), and secondly because i had no idea how to make them in a finished garment. Or actually how to make them, at all. I’m sure that there are tutorials available with nice, detailed instructions, but I just winged it, trial and error style. My favourite.

I think they turned out great! The best part though, was looking through my stash for suitable pocket lining material and stumbling upon a small length of velvet, which I found last summer on recycling day in someones green bin. It just so happened to be precisely the same colour as the wool. And that my friends, is fate. Velvet pockets! Gah!

And now, I think I’ll leave you today with a little something from art biz coach. I get weekly artist-support emails from them (it’s free – if any of you are interested, you can sign up on their website, link above), that range from cheesy and not applicable, to painfully accurate and valuable. Here is an excerpt from the latest issue that I think is worth sharing, especially at this time of year when it seems like we all could use a little kick in the pants.

Emerge from a Slump

We all have them. All of us. Don’t ever think you’re the only one who has ever had a slump. Whether it’s lethargy just thinking about promoting yourself or angst about some other aspect of your life, a slump is a slump. Here are 10 things you can do to hasten your emergence from a slump.

1. Wallow. But wallow just a little bit. Wallow to honor your emotions and feel them fully.

2. Plan something with a deadline. Nothing gets the juices flowing like facing a deadline for a promotional piece, an exhibit, or an event.

3. Get out. Take a walk, go to the gym, head to yoga class. Just get out.

4. Talk. Make appointments for coffees, lunches, and gallery or museum visits. Talk to people! Being the studio is lonely. You need to exchange ideas, observe life, and feel to your bones that your time is now.

5. Create your escape path. Just keep making art. Yeah, some of it might really stink, but you’ll eventually hit on gold.

6. Write. Write a nasty letter to someone who did you wrong or rejected you in some way (then shred it!). Write about your emotions. Write about your dreams–hopefully awakening in you the desire to return to them.

7. Read. Read an inspirational book like “Art & Fear.” [Or Free Play! by Nachmanovitch! – AB]

8. Listen. Listen to CDs or audio downloads that motivate you. Listen to the birds, listen to your children, listen to messages of hope. But don’t listen to newscasts that make you angry or depressed.

9. Watch. Watch a movie or documentary. Don’t watch junk on television, especially if it makes you sad, mad, or causes you to withdraw further.

10. Purge. Get rid of things you don’t love. Clutter and things related to unhappy memories emit bad energy. You don’t need them around. In fact, you need them outta there if you want to create space for your rich life.

So, there you go. It’s not the most earth shattering of advice, but whenever I’m stuck in a rut, a list I can just follow without thinking about it too much is so helpful. I especially like #10, it’s like creative spring cleaning. Hope you can have some fun with your own.




3 Responses

  1. About the cardigan-coat – Fan-friggin’-tastic!! Your pics really show it well, and your talent is evident in the workmanship. And the pockets – great work! You are right to be proud of them.

  2. Oh. Wow. That jewelery. What an inheritance! If you ever need any of it taken off of your hands on account of it just being too much pretty, I volunteer! 🙂

    And: It’s so exciting that you’re moving, though I hear you on June being extremely soon. We’ve known we were moving for a few weeks and we’re only going to Elora, but it seems hurried- time is a nice thing to have when abandoning places full of loved ones, it’s so easy to feel the bits that you’re missing.

    However: you’ll be closer to us, which is selfishly exciting- and yay to C’s award!! That’s fantastic! 🙂

  3. […] jewelery again… Both the bracelet below and the brooches above are reincarnations from that vintage stash I inherited a few months back. Theses rhinestone brooches were shoe buckles – I removed the hinge […]

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