This past weekend our apartment was full of good food and laughter as our dear friends J&M from Montreal were in town. They arrived laden with imported treats from Montreal and yet another box of pretties for me! How can a girl be so lucky as to get a pound of the best espresso beans, 2 cans of maple syrup, 2 different kinds of local unpasteurized organic cheeses (!!), and a box of sparkly-fantastic vintage costume jewellery all on the same day?! I have some truly lovely and generous friends. And there is nothing like the process of cooking and eating delicious meals with good friends to make a place truly feel like home. *Sigh*
It really is starting to feel homey here. My studio is truly becoming mine lately… I wrote one of my favourite quotes on the awkward slope-y ceiling wall. I gave myself permission to put thumbtacks wherever the heck I want, holes be damned. I’ve hung some good display/storage shelves, and laden them to overflowing with all the bits & bobs & odds & ends that used to be shoved rather indiscriminately in drawers. [Haha, now they are shoved indiscriminately into wire baskets – but at least now I can see what’s there! Sort of!] I got that fourth leg on my found table. I made a floaty, whimsical mobile out of those silkworm cocoons that I dyed last easter. I hung a big prism in the window so the crazy morning sunlight that comes in here not only sets the yellow walls on fire, but throws rainbows dancing all over them too.
You know. Nesting.
C and J both spent some solid time in here with me this weekend working of various crafty projects of their own, which was a lovely thing. To share this nourishing creative space I’m building was a peculiar honour… and really nice. I feel like they both did their part in warming it up with their own creative enthusiasm. Like seasoning a cast-iron pan, you know? You have to put a bit of work into preparing it before it’s really ready to start cooking. I appreciate the help breaking it it!
And then I read a wonderfully apt quote on Anna Maria’s blog yesterday that I wanted to share with you. It feels like my motto these days:
“You can’t always change things. Sometimes you don’t have no control over the way things go. Hail ruins the crops, fire burns you out. And then you’re just given so much to work with in a life and you have to do the best you can with what you got. That’s what piecing is. The materials is passed on to you or is all you can afford to buy….that’s just what’s given to you. Your fate. But the way you put them together is your business.”
-Quilter Mary White, of Texas
I’ve got so many little irons in the fire these days, bit and ends of projects that I am cobbling together into full time work. Each piece on it’s own isn’t really enough – but all the various things I’ve got my hands in here combined together and I am one busy lady suddenly. It is so very satisfying to discover not only an endless appetite for this kind of work, but also that it is richly satisfying and meaningful feeling on many levels, even if I’m not exactly getting paid (yet).
First the worm thing. It would have been enough for me just that I enjoyed making it so much and got a great composter out of the deal. But no! Cathy sent me such a nice letter to thank me for my work that I just have to share it:
…You are so wonderfully creative… I had 2 workshops today for grade 3 classes and was able to easily and effortlessly incorporate your wonderful larger than life worm. What a marvelous demonstration tool! I love it and so did the children. It will delight many a child for years to come…
Woah, warm fuzzies all over! I’m a hit with the 8 year olds! That makes my day! It’s giving me ideas about putting more energy into that kind of project – like, I would just die from pleasure if I could find make puppets and props for a kids TV show, for instance. Hmm…
Following up on that thread, I’ve started volunteering with the Preface Theater, a local not-for-profit, making some props and assisting with costuming for their production of James Reaney’s The Box Social. Gee, is it ever fun so far. I love this kind of project. The first task was to produce a number of one dollar bills for an auction scene, so I’ve been laundering money all afternoon. First, I found some historical images online (they still had bills with King George on them in those days – the show is set in the 40s). After some clever photo-shopping to remove the website logo from the bills, I printed them double sided, then put them through a strong tea bath to age them a bit. See?
The laundering thing was a joke by the way. Nothing illegal happening here. Usually things get cleaner when you launder them, anyway, not more stained!
And in the name of professional development, I’ve also committed to a weekly drawing date with a new illustrator friend. We are off to the Royal Ontario Museum this afternoon to sketch – it’s free on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30! We also plan to attend some life drawing sessions around town. I took a life drawing and anatomy for artists class a few years ago, and it was a profound experience. Talk about free play – It is a real challenge to sketch so spontaneously, a great exercise in improvisation. In quick poses there isn’t the time to go back and fix “mistakes”, you just have to work with it, very quickly you learn the balance between editing yourself and trusting your intuition. It has been a great creative workout so far! It’s like artistic yoga.
Also fun is the Ladies Sewing Circle and Revolutionary Society that I am starting up. Aka, an informal drunken crafts night with all the women I know in Toronto so far. But isn’t that name more fun? It’s inpsired by a silly poster I was given a while ago from the (fictional, I think) Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society, which shows a lady in big bustled skirt, shooting a rifle. I would rather be seen as a revolutionary than a terrorist, myself, all else being equal. But why is this such a funny concept, anyway? It is so misogynist and narrow minded to think that women’s craft groups couldn’t also be powerful agents of social change. I think especially in this capitalist consumerist environment that making anything by hand for your own needs is in fact a political statement, in that it rejects the unethical mass production and trade in crappy goods that dominates the world market. Ok, I could rant about this for a bit. Honestly, my real motivation for forming the group is that I decided I need more crafty friends. I shall try to win them over with homemade snacks. If one day we did take on overtly politcal craftivist work, I would be pleased and totally game. But for now, just some wine and decoupage. First meeting is Friday! Pictures to follow, I’m sure.
And today, I met with the lovely couple who run Wildhagen Headwear, a local design company that makes the coolest hats. They are friends of my old employer at Looolo, who gave me a glowing reference (thanks so much, Joanna!). It looks like I will start there as a studio assistant next week! We are still working out the details, and it is only going to be part-time, casual work to begin with, but I am still pleased and happy. It will be all sorts of varied tasks – pattern making and sampling, some production, lots of little detailed tasks and probably a fair bit of go-fer work too, but that is fine by me. It’ll be great to be working with a team of passionate designers again – I’m sure I will learn a ton.
And all the liberated plant cuttings I’ve been nursing are sprouting roots – as if that isn’t some kind of metaphor. I’ve potted up some of them already, but then ran out of pots. Dear Universe, please put some more pots on the curb for me to find. Thanks, Anna.
So all week I’ve been singing to myself that great song from West Side Story:
Something’s coming, something good, If I can wait!
Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is, But it is gonna be great!
With a click, with a shock,
Phone’ll jingle, door’ll knock, Open the latch!
Something’s coming, don’t know when, but it’s soon;
Catch the moon, One-handed catch!
The air is humming. And something great is coming! Yes – I’m piecing it all together. I don’t know what it is, But it is gonna be great!