Surprisingly, I had Friday night off. Now I could have called in and asked if they needed an extra body. Almost assuredly, they would have said yes and I would have had a few more dollars to throw at my creditors. However.
However, I have worked a great many hours this past month and a couple minutes with the calculator indicated I could enjoy Friday evening without much more austerity than is already in place.
I ended up at my good friend’s house for what we term a “sistering.” Women gather and we talk about stuff. We talk and we talk – about our kids, our classes, our dreams, our aspirations, about how good the lasagna is. One of the craziest evenings involved the en masse arrival of the lesbians after which, somewhat perplexingly, we all ended up sitting around talking about boys and whether or not size matters. (The other memorable occasion was the night we were all PMSing and the potluck was ENTIRELY comprised of chocolate.)
My friend, the host, teaches art history and the guest list is often, usually, comprised of artists.
I have a love/hate relationship with the artsy crowd.
Now my mother is into crafts. She has always been thus. She’s fully aware of the difference between arts and crafts, although like most of us, she doesn’t know exactly where the dividing line is. The female members of both branches of the family tree are into crafts. A few of them dabble in the arts. They crochet, they knit, they tole paint, they quilt, and they paint ceramic figurines and execute paintings. They make collages and jewelry. Christmas will find them in quite a frenzy.
My mother is not big on the crochet/knitting thing, but she makes up for it with power tools, sanders, and every shade of acrylic paint Michael’s sells. She also sews. She’s actually very good at sewing. I was tortured throughout my childhood with my mother trying to teach me how to sew.
The disasters are family stories – the time I hemmed my dress (which I had no intention of ever wearing) to my jeans. And then there was the time I made kitchen curtains without any thread in the bobbin and couldn’t figure out why they kept falling off the rod.
I am afraid of my sewing machine and after the slight concussion of a few weeks ago, I am doubly afeared. It used to just silently glare at me and taunt me to try and fill the bobbin. Now, it seems, its malevolence has branched into physically harming me when I have no intention of pressing it into service.
That love/hate relationship centers on the fact that I love that talent/ability and hate that I don’t have it.
I arrive at the sistering on Friday to discover that two of the guests did a run through Michael’s and purchased an astonishing amount of beads, wires, thingie-dos and other accoutrements for the making of jewelry. The idea was that we would all sit around talking (about boys or no) while making necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, etc. etc.
I had a right awful day Friday. I immediately envisioned myself lopping off a finger with the needle nose plier-thingies and spending the night in the Emergency Room. Or somehow crafting earrings that would turn my ears black with gangrene. Or, worse, having all the art students laugh at me. I have a good ear for music, but can’t sing a note anyone besides me has ever heard. I also have a good eye for design, but can’t execute. (I’ve spent 25 years trying to learn how to crochet and my only accomplishment is the ability to chain if I concentrate really hard.)
I know my limitations.
Generally, I’m not too concerned about being laughed at and poke more fun at myself than the others could even begin to match. But. I had a right awful day Friday and was trying to control my twitching.
I insisted it would be far better and I would enjoy myself far more watching them turn hobby supply store goods into bodily adornments. I ate lasagna, drank wine, and watched women make jewelry.
The creative process (whether art or craft) intrigues me. I love watching artists and craftspersons execute. It doesn’t matter if it’s the well-turned leg of a piece of furniture or the execution of a piece of sculpture. Watching that ability to take raw goods and turn it into something visually appealing is a great form of entertainment.
In this case, I watched pieces of this and that turn into a necklace and a pair of earrings. From the beginning, it was the intention of the maker to give them to me. She kept asking my opinion and asking me to make decisions about the choice of components. I kept telling her I would be far happier and it would mean more to me if she made me what she wanted to make.
I left with a lovely ensemble of malachite and dragonflies.
The one thing I can do that I’m good at is needlework. Years ago I took up needlepoint as something to do while watching television. I loved the process. I loved the process more than the finished product. Of all the stuff I did, I only managed to actually frame a couple of pieces. In The Closet I Am Afraid Of languishes finished projects unframed and unstuffed. The act is enough.
Needlepoint is damned expensive. I regarded it as worth it, because the moving meditation of pulling thread and yarn in and out of canvas was soul-soothing. But as with so many areas of my life, the cost of both time and money became insupportable. When I had the time, I turned to cross stitch and simple embroidery to fulfill my need to poke a needle in and out of fabric. While I enjoyed the act of cross stitching, I hated the end results. There’s something about cross stitch that offends my sensibilities. The only piece I ever displayed was the one I made while my best friend was dying of cancer.
Back in January, I had another attack of Needleworkitis. At ridiculous expense, I purchased a kit of needlepoint boasting an image that I’m not thrilled with. Needlepoint is damned expensive and I went for the clearance stuff. The kit itself bears a ridiculous price, but even worse is the added expense of all the other crap – stretcher bars, thread organizers, hoops, needles, magnifying glasses, and carrying cases. (And as fate would have it, I have not had time to relearn the stitches – something I must do before I can bring myself to tackle this project which cost me far more than was prudent.)
Like many people with ADD, I have a love of containers. It’s been postulated that those of us with ADD love (love, love, love) containers because we’re embroiled in a constant battle to organize our minds and our surroundings.
HMOKeefe claims to not be ADD, but I’m dubious. He has containers for his containers. He puts stuff in containers, holders, cases, bags and boxes and then puts those things into containers, holders, cases, bags and boxes so that the end result is a lot like Russian nesting dolls. On our vacation, I had a suitcase, an overnight bag and a purse into which everything was tossed willy nilly. He had 77 tote bags filled with containers of containers that like that old Barrel of Monkeys game I was uncommonly fond of as a child eventually revealed the item he intended to need. Now that I think about it, perhaps he’s not ADD. He actually uses his containers. Still. I think there’s some sort of pathology there.
As I sat there watching the jewelry process, I was equally intrigued by the containers. I submit the entire guest list of Friday evening is ADD. Not only did they spend a boatload of money on beads and whatnot, they also purchased containers, dividers, and all manner of stuff to organize the supplies.
I’ve gotten off-topic. (We ADD people tend to do that.)
My point, I think, is that while I’m relatively talentless in the arts and crafts area, I love having things people I know have made. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who do have talent and see fit to give it to me. The objects themselves are wonderful, but the bonus of knowing the artist and, sometimes, watching it made is an even greater thrill. I asked on Friday if I could be considered a patron of the arts if I never actually paid for any of the stuff I have. I was assured that was not unusual.
So. As an impoverished patron of the arts, feel free to make something and give it to me. (I draw the line at plastic canvas – it’s a long story. If your medium is plastic canvas you’ll need to find another patron.)