Thursday, June 21, 2012

The difference between admiration and appreciation

There is a fundamental difference between admiration and appreciation.

Do you ever hear applause in your head after you've made something really, really awesome?

This has only happened to me maybe 5 times in my craftlife (which has spanned approximately 3 years; I'm in my craft-toddlerhood at present). I finish the last stitch or seam, finish cutting the last bar of soap, carving away the last bit of linoleum, pick up the finished object, hold it up so I can see, and then I hear applause and the roar of a crowd in my head, snapping of pictures with flash photography, feet thumping against the floor in appreciation. The last time this happened I actually said the words,

"... and the crowd goes wild..."

I said the words quietly, just to myself, but it made me smile in much the same way baseball players smile after hitting a home run.

I feel like my family plays the role of the fans as I round home base: they smile with me, give me Fonzie style thumbs-ups and high fives. However, they don't sew or knit or crochet or othercraft; therefore, even though I know they truly admire the final product, they can't know the work that went into it.

I think the thing I love the most about my knitting group, my penpal Jemimah, my Kilkarians and my workfriendcrafters (and about SAW) is that, instead of fans, I feel like I am surrounded by teammates. We stand (or sit) side-by-side, working together, problem-solving together, and- when the day is done and the project is finished- we each intimately know the work required to get from A to Z and can truly appreciate the end result.

There is a knowing in appreciation that isn't there with admiration.

That stated, I still really like it when the crowd goes wild.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spring SAW 2012 Part 2: Story Scarves

Preface: If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Maya Donenfeld then you MUST DO IT!! I don't care if she is teaching a class in proper cabinet dusting methodology or how lick mailing envelopes, you MUST DO IT. She is my hero and she is amazing. I would make her a cape but I'm almost certain- like most fashion conscious superheroes- she already has one; in her case, though, it's likely made from reclaimed FedEx containers, recycled t-shirts, and burlap.

-Overview of the Class-

Beginning: The class started with setting up power for the sewing machines and preparing our workspaces. This was a bit of an anxious exercise; however, immediately after, Maya pulled us all out into the sun and arranged us in a circle. She spoke a few calming/encouraging words then asked us all to tell each other our name, where we were from, and why we were there (at SAW). This broke the ice and allowed us (as a class) to become focused on being present in the present and tapping into our MSOP (which stands for Mojo Standard Operating Procedure, aka creative process); we soon forgot about the anxiousness associated with preparing our workspace.

Maya then had us make a 5" x 6" sachet (later filled with dried lavender which she supplied) in order to allow each of us to become familiar/comfortable with the tools we'd be using during the day (rotary cutter and mat, ruler, sewing machine, iron, etc.) Concurrently, it was at this point, as we made the sachet, that Maya asked us to really start thinking about the story we wanted to tell with our scarf; she requested that we begin the process of sifting through and eventually making a pile of those materials we wanted to include.

The simple first project was really nice for intermediate sewers as well as complete newbies; it was great to start with something small and completely manageable. I could see that everyone's confidence level increased as they made their rectangle; additionally, we all left with an awesome little lavender sachet at the end of the day.

Middle: Once the sachet was constructed, Maya had us turn back to the materials we'd brought for our scarves; hopefully, by this point, most people had assembled a meaningful pile. We were then allowed to work at our own pace and MSOP.

Throughout this time Maya would stop and check in with each person; she wanted to know our direction, what story we wanted to tell, and was key in helping us cull and focus our narrative.

She also, at opportune intervals, provided quick and effective tutorials to those who wanted to add a ruffle or gather or other design element to their scarf. This was great because, even though we were immersed in our projects, we still learned new skills and techniques.


I want to note that Maya brought a ton of linen garments and scraps for us to use. This was very generous and helpful; I used an old linen skirt (provided by Maya) for the back of my scarf and likely would not have finished had she not brought the extra materials.

End: Toward the end of the class Maya gathered us together and demonstrated how to design and create a stamp from eraser material. She wanted each of us to carve a simple symbol, meaningful to us, which we could then use to sign our finished piece.

I believe the other reason for the stamp was to show us that we could take reclaimed materials (old linen skirts, drapes, etc.) and make them new by generating printed fabric of our own design.

Once we carved our design we stamped it on our scarf and sachet.

Wrap up: At the end of the day we assembled our projects and sat on the stairs of the playhouse for a group picture. If time had permitted, it would have been great to dedicate some time to gathering the group together to speak about each of the objects and learn the story behind everyone's scarves. I believe Maya wanted to give everyone as much time as possible to finish their scarf and, therefore, we didn't have the luxury of a group wrap up.

My MSOP: The scarf represents any given week in my life: I'm a working mom; I feel like I work all the time. The business shirts are my days (and sometimes my nights). My kids are in my heart every moment (represented by the robot patch on the pocket, where the heart is). The brief scraps of color represent the time I am able to piece together for creativity.

The scarf is made from my husband's old business shirts, strips/scraps of my favorite fabric, and a small patch of fabric which I designed for my kids (the robot over the pocket) using spoonflower.

At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my scarf or what story I wanted to tell. But, Maya has this uncanny ability to sense when someone needs help and guidance. She asked the right questions at the right time which allowed me to find my "fiber voice." After just one very brief conversation with Maya the story I wanted to tell clarified and I was able to set my own pace.

Thank you, Maya, for everything! You are beautiful and inspiring.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SAW Spring 2012 Part 1: My Sawxperience

Before I get to details, I wanted to share with you all this lino carving (printed on fabric) I did during the Friday and Saturday free time at SAW. When I look at it I feel like I'm there again, about to walk on my cabin's dock. It makes me happy; I hope it makes you happy too.

I have a lot to say but, uncharacteristically, am having a great deal of difficulty finding the appropriate words to express/describe my time at SAW. It was f#&$*@# awesome. Therefore, I will attempt to break it down into categories and subcategories:

The expected:

1. Beauty: As expected, everything was beautiful- and I'm not just talking about the lake or Rockywood/Deephaven. Elizabeth and her team make everything even more beautiful by their uncanny attention to detail and aesthetic (personal notes to each of the cabins, yarn bombing around the camp/in the woods, lovely signs). I feel like the beauty of SAW is a direct reflection of its creators. However, since I went last year, I was expecting beauty; I was expecting a supportive, peaceful environment which nurtured creativity. I was not disappointed.

2. Awesome teachers and classes: Again, as expected, my teachers were nothing short of kickass. More on this in later posts

3. Friendly and supportive attendees: I can't count the number of times someone went out of their way to be cool, nice, and helpful. Sometimes I feel like SAW people are the Stepford Wives (but not in a disturbing way) of crafters because there is no drama, no competition, and no judgment.

The unexpected:

1. My cabin mates (there were 8 of them) were definitely the most unexpected part of my sawxperience. Every single one of them are as dear to me as my stash of madelinetosh, maybe even more so (which is saying A LOT); I am (now) looking back at the short hours I spent with them and am kicking myself for not staying up longer, finding a few more minutes to ask Fry about her handmade glass beads or Peggy about her quilts or J about her knitting (off again on again relationship). I want to know more about Hot Pant's other creative pursuits, MB's sewing, and Em's favorite crafts. I left feeling like I was just starting to get to know these truly and deeply inspiring women; leaving them was really difficult and it sucked.

2. Compliments: People at SAW compliment (and complement) each other with sincerity. But it makes me feel like... I'm peeing upside down. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a basket case; I can take a compliment about things I believe coincide with my strengths. I am just unsettled by compliments relating to those things at which I wish I were talented. Being able to sew doesn't make someone talented, it just means they've had practice. I believe real creative talent lies in new/novel ideas and the creation of something beautiful and/or meaningful that is wholly (as much as is feasible) original.

Bah! this is coming out weird so I'll just leave it at that. Moving on...

3. Hot showers: last year I had only two roommates and we had hot water the whole time; but I figured- with only two roommates- this was to be expected. This year I was sure- with 8 roommates all taking a shower in the morning- we were going to run out of hot water. I showered last every day and had hot water every day. BOOM!

So, if this moral has a story it is as follows: I love SAW like an aligator loves small dogs. It is wonderful and I can't imagine not going every year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Community Garden

 We visited the community garden today; the boy was there helping them weed and build fences.

Nora insisted on wearing her boots.