Sep 13th, 2012
Funny how life loves to throw you curveballs. Even more funny (in the ironic sense, unfortunately not the “ha ha” sense), when craft saves you once, and then saves your ass again.
And speaking of craft saving your ass, I bought Kathleen Vercillo’s new book this morning, Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet, which I will be reviewing and sharing more about here soon.
If you look over here, you will see in the slideshow, a photo of the piece above when I was just beginning it. Several years ago. The photo in the slideshow was all “Woohoo! New piece! Yeah!” and then I started it, effed up some of the stitches (after showing it to Mr. X Stitch and Lauren O’Farrell in London in 2011, I knew most of it needed to be redone. Subsequently, the photo you see above is of a piece that has been redone, several times. Pieces of the aida cloth up towards the top of the piece are (in some cases) down to their last literal threads.
Fast forward to earlier this spring, during a talk in a class on Creative Dissent at the Corcoran, when I was talking about my own work. I mentioned that the series linked above is something I’ve been working on off and on since 2004. One of the students said the equivalent of “Dude, that’s a really long time.” To which I responded, honestly and without hesitation, “Yes.” If anything, this series has taught me how not only our lives ebb and flow, but our creative endeavors, do, too. And, sometimes, these two intersect in a cluster*ck of inaction, uncertainty, doubt, frustration, and, frankly, wanting to just effin’ quit. Not life, necessarily, but all its flourishes aside from sleep/work.
And if you’re like me, you end up eating little but toast and hiding all your work in boxes and watching really bad tv reruns. And then one day, your fingers start to itch and you wonder, “what ever happened to that piece I was working on?” And after the excavation of 4 other boxes, in the 5th box, you find what you were looking for. And the intersection between life and creativity bubbles up in your brain and you start stitching. And you realize that there are reasons for these creative breaks, and you understand why at some museums you see that 1 piece by 1 artist took 9 years. Because we are made to ebb and flow, we are made to create. However, sometimes things get so shite that you end up in Toastville using your boxes full of creative projects as a makeshift cat beds so the cat can look out windows. (Truth!)
So, again, I realize that while these breaks perfectly natural, it is imperative for them to be “breaks” and not a “full-stop quit.” I also realize that sometimes those “breaks” honestly feel like a “full-stop quit,” especially when you get to Toastville (or your equivalent of Toastville)! And that’s okay. We’re allowed to burn out, stop, take a break, go learn new things or just zone out for a bit. However, we need to also give ourselves permission to fall in love again. To realize why we began to stitch/paint/insert-creative-endeavor-here in the first place.
We need the break in order to refuel and recharge and remember why we’re here, what we love, why we make, and who we are. However, we need to give ourselves permission to take one in the first place. So, while you hopefully don’t make it all the way to Toastville, hopefully you will allow yourself to stop when you feel like it. And when you look back at that project that took 7 years when it should have taken 1 month, remember that break with pride, serenity, and joy.
I was there the day that the students were knitting (in some cases learning to knit!) to make this “Student Debt Blanket.” You can see them (they were awesome!) in the video below, along with their blanket: