Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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28 March 2008

Zombie Blogger Reporting for Duty

I love spring snow followed by a sunny day.

We had rain and snow overnight, and the roads were pretty icy first thing this morning.

I drove the child to school and came back and reheated this:
Three colors of green Maypole wool and white, microwaved in the leftover blue Easter-egg dye I used on the child's hair last night.

I don't know if this yarn is still available, but we used to use it all the time for overshot weaving (cough) years ago. The label says "durably mothproofed hand washable Maypole 'Nehalem' 100% Virgin Wool Worsted Hand Weaving Yarn, 3 ply 2 oz. approx 280 yards, a product of Oregon Worsted Co., Portland, Oregon".

It's a little on the thin side for knitting, but it will felt. The bag underneath the bowl was knitted from green and brown thrums of a stuffer-weave warp I wove in high school, then felted in my front-loader washing machine. I think I ran it through about three hot-wash/cold-rinse cycles (with the regular laundry) until I was happy with it. All those ends, vanished.

And I want to say a word about the bowl the yarn is in.

Several years ago, when I was newly downsized from the full-time working world (er, the one that pays money, not the one that is 24/7 and involves things like cleaning vomit at 3am) and still half-expecting to get another full-time job any minute, I took some ceramics classes.

Basically, I paid money to play in clay. We had access to kilns and glazes and wheels, a good teacher who was a working potter, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I did NOT get to the point of producing this bowl.

No, one night in my second round of classes, one of the real potters was talking to the instructor about six bowls she had made. These bowls. She was happy with the shape, but two of the glazes had reacted inside and turned black.

Before I could say anything, she dropped the whole stack in the metal "cracked" trash bin that we used for things that broke or sagged in the kiln, and walked away still talking to the instructor.

I was stunned. After a second, I unfroze and went after her, but she had left for the night. So I went back and took out the four that had not shattered, and I took them home.

They are excellent bowls, a good shape for soup or oatmeal or cereal. But they have this black pencil-lead color in some areas of the inside.

Most people are creative, even the ones who insist they aren't creative and who would deny they are artists. And many creative people are too darn hard on themselves. They look at their work, and all they see is the parts that turned black, not the nice shape.

Are you creative? Would you call yourself an artist? Or does that word make you uneasy?

If you sometimes admit, even secretly to yourself, that you're creative, are you pretty hard on yourself? Do you drop whole stacks of your own work in the "cracked" bin for minor flaws?

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14 Comments:

Blogger DEEP END OF THE LOOM said...

I have to agree with the artist part, the hard on myself part and the ripping out knitting or weaving because it has a "blemish". I can totally relate, but I also love the satisfaction of being able to do that and to say I made it because I can. Yes, most artisic people are their most evil critics.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Kathleen C. said...

Oh, yeah. I'm a costume designer, and I am definitely my own worst critic. And my DH, who is a painter, is his own worst critic as well.

Our dance concert opened last night and instead of joy I felt only kind of empty. Not that things look bad... they don't! They look very, very good! But... some things just aren't quite where I wanted them to get... completely.

So I'll go see the show tonight and hopefully the distance of a day away will have eased the disappointment and I'll be able to appreciate instead all the ways in which the costumes look damn good.

Not that this reaction is totally a bad thing. After all, if you are going to grow you need to be able to recognize failures. But as an artist you put so much of yourself into each project that it's hard not to take the critique personally.

2:07 PM  
Blogger amy said...

Yes, I consider myself creative. No, the word doesn't make me uneasy. Yes, I am hard on myself. But I honestly don't understand the potter's reaction. Why not sell them as "imperfect"? I'm pretty sure one of our local pottery places (Peter Pots) has a "flawed" sale once or twice a year. Not to mention, whoa, how wasteful. A little MORE creativity and she would have been able to find a happy home for them. I'm glad you rescued them.

My older son loves his pottery class. He's getting better and better, and I'm glad the teacher is so interested in offering classes for even young children--she starts at age 5. And he is wonderfully free of self-criticism when it comes to his creations.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Casey said...

Years ago I fished one of my mother's oil paintings out of a trash box on her back porch. She assured me she meant to throw it out because it wasn't "right."

My four-year old son now keeps the painting in his room and sometimes carries it around the house. It's a study of a white heron very like the ones that visit the creek down the street. He loves it. I think that's right enough.

That said, it can take me hours and hours to write a 300-word blog post because I must tweak every sentence and proofread twice, etc.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Georgie said...

Its a very interesting question. I certainly do not consider myself "creative" by any measure, and admire it greatly as a quality in others. I challanged this by taking classes in pottery myself, and it took about 6 motnhs for me to get over the drive to make "functional" things (mugs, bowls etc). And after about a year I started to actually make stuff that I almost liked. I have several packing boxes full of "failures".

I have real trouble gifting anything I knit too (even knit-for-purpose) because its never good enough.

But to be honest, I am finding myself thinking about breaking away from patterns and instructions and *gasp* maybe designing something?? But it will never be good enough!!

10:27 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I consider myself creative and crafty. I'm not so sure about artist. That somehow elevates things to a completely different level. :)

I know way too many people who insist they aren't creative, but when given a chance to try, they actually come up with some good stuff. The problem is that they are so self-critical that they don't see the good bits.

I've also seen plenty of what the creator would call goofs be snapped up by other folks as bits of loveliness. Even some of my rejects have been grabbed with glee by friends. Everyone has a different sense of what looks "right" and if something I've created appeals to one person, then I consider it a success -- even if I don't much care for it. :) I'm loathe to toss things out for that reason. I figure they can at least go to charity and someone might find them appealing.

Hope you and yours feel better soon!

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

I hope you are feeling better. Spring looks like it is arriving in Buffalo this week. We had 2 inches of snow on Friday and this week we are finally getting above freezing at night.
I would say I am creative, and I hang out with creative people. The postters I hang out with wouldn't throw away perfectly useful bowls, they would find a use for them.
I don't tend to drive myself crazy with making things perfect, although I do remember one year wondering why my then 4 year old was SO detail oriented about his Halloween costume. His costume was a fire fighter, he loved visiting the fire station,we had to make the tanks the right color, he had to have a mask with the correct hose, etc. About a month later, my daughter had a dress up day from Little House on the Prarie day at school. I got the Folkware Prarie pattern, went to the library to research calicos that were right and then went duh. Now I know where he got it.
I must say, my daughter had the most accurate impression in her class. We had made the apron and hat, I didn't go so far as the shoes though, she wore her riding boots.
With my knitting I tend to be a bit more laid back, if I can easily fit a minor mistake, I do, if it doesn't show, I might leave it in.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

I am creative and proud of it! An artist? Yes, I think so. I am slapdash and lazy and tolerant of things that don't come out the way I envisioned them. Sometimes, they come out better. Letting go of what you wanted, and delighting in what you get makes for a happy life. And as a writer, I have learned that first you need to get it written. THEN you can worry about getting it "right."

11:32 AM  
Blogger Rose Red said...

What an interesting post (and I'm so glad you saved the bowls).

I don't think of myself as artistic or creative. I do think I'm good at seeing someone's idea and spinning it off into something which I think is better or more exciting or whatever - but true creativity eludes me. I don't think this is being hard on myself, I think it is true. And because I'm not truly artistic or creative, I can totally live with imperfection. It doesn't bother me at all. To me, handmade is more important than perfect.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Bells said...

I've found myself saying I am creative in an apologetic sort of way. Like, "I'm not so good at professional/work stuff because, well, I'm creative.' And in my head it sounds like I'm saying I don't measure up by the world's standards.

I'm trying to get over that.

But actually what I'm wondering right now is 'someone who likes to make things' the definition of creative? I am sure it must be more than that.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Lucia said...

I do consider myself an artist, and I can be quite hard on myself. And I almost laughed out loud at Casey's comment, because spending hours proofing and tweaking, or ripping and reknitting, as the case may be, is me all over.

I wouldn't throw those bowls out, though. I'd use them to keep yarn in. Then the inside would usually be covered anyway.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Ah, the art/craft/perfectionism discussion... most days I consider myself a craftsperson. What I do is learned skill. But on a good day, a very very good day, with a little luck, I turn the corner into art. Once in a while.

Then I sit there, marveling, and think "Wow, I can't believe I did that."

We all need more faith in ourselves.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Felicia said...

You could just leave out the "creative" part. Most people are too hard on themselves. We are too short, too tall, too thin, too heavy, too fill in the blank. And if you add the "I couldn'ts" into the mix, what a mess that would be!

That being said, I wouldn't be a teenager again for all the money in the world. The confidence I have gained as an adult is wonderful. And yet, I am too..... and I wish I could....

6:49 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I don't consider myself an artist per se. I do consider myself creative and I am very hard on myself but I would never throw away perfectly good bowls! Very thought provoking post though.

8:07 PM  

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