So, you're probably wondering how that New Year's resolution is going. It's going. As long as both you and I keep our expectations low, it will be do-able, I think.
Sixteen days into the New Year I can say that I've been *in* to the studio each and every day. There were days when all I did was walk in and set something on my table and walk right back out. There was a day when all I did was sort out child-related vintage patterns to send to a friend. And another when all I accomplished was color printing a set of hang tags for the sprays to see what they might look like.I did a lot of thinking, and pushing paper around.
And I worked on projects. I glued magnets on the back of these spice tins that I took out of my mother's cabinets. Never a cook, these tins were with us for our entire childhood and then some. They are probably forty years old and were still full. They were never used and never going to be used, but still she wouldn't throw them away. It was as if doing so might commit her to another life, the one she was really living instead of the ideal that someone else had impressed upon her.
I decided to continue making Christmas ornaments for 2012. I didn't put up a tree or make a special meal this year, in spite of my plans. It was a mistake. A learning experience. At first it seemed that I was relieved of a great burden - no cooking; no obligations. Now I know the difference between what I do for others and what I need for myself. Apparently, I enjoy making a nice meal and decorating a little.
So, New Year/New Studio I decided that I had quite enjoyed working on Christmas decorations I had started last month and wanted to continue. The year stretches out before me making the projects less daunting. I finished some simple felt hearts with wings, showing them to the mama cardinal who perched outside my window and watched me work - for an amazingly long time.
Somewhere I read that the best handmade trees are inspired by the things you just have around. So I remembered these needle felted kitties that I made a couple of years ago. It made me quite sad to finish work on these, remembering the time they were made and thinking of how much has changed since then.
I almost stopped but then decided to use the time to really think through it. Needle felting is good for that. I've been tossing and turning Brene Brown's statements on shame, and it all seems to relate. This time, this period year of suffering, I went remarkably inside myself (versus the usual too-much-information approach).
You see, last Spring, I had lunch with a friend of twenty-odd years and I told her something of what I'd been through and I thought I saw a flicker in her eyes. I recognized it, or thought I did, as a motion of the all-too-familiar. She'd heard it before. Specifically, she'd heard it from me. And how can I blame her for that*?
And, so, I just went inside, embarassed; ashamed of the part I played in my own unhappiness, hoping it would wear off and that someday I will return to "normal" and our friendship will resume on its old terms. Strangely, as the months pass, I realize that I walked away from that experience a different person. I'm the same, but different. I'll have to needle felt some more before I can explain that.
On a bad day, I feel like one of those "black cloud" people that my old boss described to me so many years ago. Something major/something bad is always happening and you learn to avoid them. The crack in the yoga mat types, but more. When my favorite nun emailed an invitation to go on retreat in January, I didn't even consider it. What more do I have to say? And what more can I expect from them? That was my thought.
The needle felting was a good exercise, though. If it hurt me to work on finishing the kitties, I realized that one or two of the other projects I thought I should finish could, in fact, just be thrown in the trash. So I did just that and no one died.
Finally, I began working on a rosary. Cherry pits for prayer beads; the stations have pieces of old cyanotypes (layer one, above) and then bird bones set in resin. I agonized for several days over brass materials vs. silver or gold but decided to just bite the bullet and start. Worrying about what will/won't be archival can sometimes be the difference between getting going and letting things sit. As if it will wind up in the Louvre.
Sunday seems to be a good day to spend time in the studio. What a miracle to love someone who LOVES football. I mean, he can sit and watch football for ten hours straight and be as happy as he can possibly be. I don't know what all those other women are complaining about.
How was your weekend?
*Note: That's not what my friend told me; that's what I interpolated and then organized my interactions with all other old friends around. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I'm just telling you what I imagined and then did.
I'm still working on a handmade Christmas. And really enjoying it. My "rules" are that I buy nothing; making ornaments out of things I have on hand in the studio. As the weeks pass, I'm amazed by how much I really have in this small space.
Cleaning out a dresser, I found four lace coasters. I'm not 100 percent on where they came from. They were with some of my mother's linens so could have been a gift to her. I may have bought them in Pella, Iowa, as an example of "Dutch" lace. Since they don't have a [memorable] history, I decided to make snowflakes out of them and hang them on the the tree.
Then, I had a brain wave. Cut out the middle and use the lace as a frame. After all, they aren't precious, handmade items. So I did this.
That's a photo of my Grandma, in her freshman year at college. She wrote in my "Grandmother Remembers" book that she set waves in her hair with sugar water.
The cut out circles will be great snowflakes, just by their own selves.