I’ve decided to name these rambling collections of pictures and paragraphs “(a cup of tea) posts,” simply because that has been my mindset when sitting down to write them. I settle in at my laptop with a cup of something hot and catch up with myself and all of you. These posts tend to be a tad long and meandering, which is how my stories often go over tea with a friend, so I strongly suggest putting on the kettle and getting cozy.
If you’ve read my last two posts you know that I seem to have found myself at a crossroads in my making life. In my mind it has felt like a crisis of epic proportions. And until recently I felt somewhat paralyzed as to what my next step should be. I haven’t felt sure of what to say here or how to change what I was doing to make things feel right.
I started making dolls 6 years ago when I made one for a friend’s daughter. I didn’t have any kids of my own at that point so I had no idea about the stifling avalanche of toys that tend to enter a person’s life with the birth of a child. I imagined I was making one special thing to be treasured always… But now I am a mom. I’m a mom who sees the change in my daughter’s moods when there is simply too much going on; too much input from too many blocks, puzzles, games, objects on wheels to be pulled around the living room, dolls, doll clothes, musical instruments, books that sing by themselves!… And I’m a mom who picks up each and every one of these ever multiplying items off the floor, or out of the bathtub, or out from under the couch at the end of every day. Whether handmade or not, too much is too much and it feels out of step for me to contribute to this multiplicity in people’s lives with my work. And handmade dolls seem to create a slippery slope for a lot of people! They are all so special and unique! With so many talented makers out there, I’m the first to say that collecting them can quickly become a bit addictive. In many aspects of my life I am devoted to the practice of living with less, not just to minimize my impact on the resources of our precious planet, but to maximize my sanity as a person living with bi-polar mania, and to get the most enjoyment out of the things I do choose to own. This is a HUGE part of my everyday life. The idea of living lightly shapes so many of our decisions as a family and yet I’ve been investing countless hours into something that was directly at odds with this concept, which is the making of more Stuff and collecting and storing more stuff to make the Stuff! Because to Make for a living requires a ton of stuff! Packing supplies, materials (so many materials!!!!), and tools have taken over every closet of our house. They are also under the bed, in the basement storage unit, even on top of the kitchen cabinets! This is not minimal impact, this is borderline hoarding. And it feels bad. It doesn’t fit.
I’ve always defended my craft hoard as above the process of culling we apply to almost everything else we own. Because I needed it all! Right? Crafting has been my outlet, my excuse for holding onto things I wasn’t ready to let go of. If I couldn’t use something or wear it anymore, perhaps I could make something out of it! That mindset, combined with the amount of cast-off material I receive regularly from people who know about my passion for finding uses for old things has meant that my collection of fabrics, glues, sequins, old blue jeans, wooden spools, yarn, buttons, leather scraps, shoulder pads, quilt squares, embroidered hankies, beads, you-name-it-I’ve-got-it, has grown and grown and grown in recent years. It has far outgrown my ability to make excuses for hanging onto it all.
Perhaps it’s the fact that so much of the rest of my life is in alignment right now that I’m finally able to look this big, fat exception right in the face or maybe breaking points just come when they need to regardless of one’s readiness to deal with them. However it happened, here I am. I don’t have a plan for the path of this transition but I have a voice inside me shouting, “GO THIS WAY!” So I’m going.
I love making things. I love appreciating things that other people have made. I have no intentions of stopping either of these practices but to help me bring my big, fat crafting exception into line with the rest of my life, I’ve set up some guidelines for my making from this point forward:
Simplicity: The things I choose to make will have simplicity at the heart of their design. No efforts wasted on passing trends, no energy spent on that which is not enduring and useful long after its creation.
Thoughtfulness: Each project should be thoughtful and carefully considered in its design, in its purpose, in its function and in whether or not it needs to be made at all. Which brings me to my most important point…
Making with Intention: No more making for making’s sake, for the task of busying idol hands. Every project should serve a function or fill a need and do that in the most beautiful and pleasing way. There are better ways to fill an unfilled hour that nourish the soul and spirit more fully than bringing yet another knitted hat, woven blouse, or unnecessary plush toy into the world. If I don’t need it. I won’t make it.
This might sound like a death sentence for my business, I am painfully aware. I’m comforting myself with this: that when what you share comes directly from your gut and the deepest, most holy place inside yourself the feeling of living your truth is its own reward. I’ve found this out many times in different aspects of my life and every time the lesson has been similarly painful. Doing or saying what you perceive others want from you is easier, so much easier, in the short run! Living with an untruth involves no immediate conflict and minimizes your risk of experiencing what may feel like utter, complete humiliation and terrible failure. Sadly though, it almost guarantees a feeling of failure in the long run, most often accompanied by deeper regrets. Truth carries with it the burden of consequences, but untruth is the burden of poison. Consequences can fortify our resolves and teach us about ourselves and the things we truly value. Poison simply erodes and disorients us. In my life thus far, truth has been the easier burden to shoulder regardless of whether it brought me success or failure.
So let’s get truthy. Working within my new guidelines, here is what I have planned for the future of LSNW: I’m working on some patterns intended for home sewing and even some knitting. There may still be dolls for sale but not as many as I’ve had in the past. I’ve got lots of ideas for sharing here on the blog and elsewhere on social media. I’m hoping to track down some of my favorite makers to get their take on simplicity and craft and I may even get around to sharing some history on the relationship between necessity and making (pretty much my favorite subject! Think Shaker furniture, Irish fisherman sweaters, or a pair of thick and cozy Scandinavian slippers). I’m getting carried away! Anyway, I’m excited. I’ll leave it there.
If you read this far, thank you. I’m pretty sure we’re best friends now. All my best to you and be well, good friend.