Monday, March 17, 2008

handmade goodness


handmade goodness
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Using handmade things is really important to me. Here are a few of my favorite handmade things- my blue "jaywalker" socks made from hand-dyed yarn, my lovely new bamboo spinning ring my husband gave me for my 33rd birthday, Molly Hatch's beautiful "peek a boo bird" tumbler - both of these things came from etsy, by the way, and my own hand-thrown and fluted teacup and saucer from my last experimentation with porcelain a few years ago.

When I was a little girl, my mother made all of my "special" clothes. I grew up knowing that if I wanted a blue dress, made a certain way, I could have it in a few days. When I was in college, I would know what I wanted and wander around the mall aimlessly looking for the specific dress, skirt, sweater so clearly pictured in my mind's eye and I would be unable to find it. I still have this "problem," but I find it is best solved by making the object- be it dress, sweater (well, not a sweater, but hat or socks), teacup, cake plate, whatever- or having it made for me. My husband built our bookshelves in our living room. Before that, he built a stereo cabinet out of an old (1930s?) window that came from my great-grandparents' home in Louisiana. In my dining room hangs a mirror made from a stained glass window, also from my great grandparents' , but originally from their church.

At this point in my life, love of the handmade is part self-reliance. For instance, it bothers me tremendously that I couldn't figure out how to fix the lock in our storm door when I am able to create clothing out of sticks and string, and make our dishes out of hunks of clay. I did learn how to fix the lock, but I had to have a pro show me how. This love is also a bit of throw-back, rejection of the have it all now, have it all perfect, have it all cheap. None of the things that I love best are perfect, instantaneous, or cheap. Affordable, yes. Cheaper than what you could find at Walmart or Target? Nope.

I try really hard to be flexible about these things, because most of the American public doesn't understand this sort of thinking. It just doesn't make sense to them. Why not have something that is perfect and instant and cheap? Several years ago my darling brother, who is as different from me as night and day, was visiting. He lives a good 16-hours drive from me, so our visits are infrequent. He looked at my beat-up kitchen table, our small TV, our pot rack that was made out of a sled, and the cut-tin folk art hanging on the wall. "Melissa," he said, "ya'll are eccentric." That stung a little (but I've been able to rub it in for about 6 years in the way that only an older sister can), but I've come to realize that priorities are just different, and what's best for me is not what's best for him or anyone else. This is one reason that I read blogs, and one reason that I started a blog. I love the fact that a daily click on my Bloglines tab will lead me to dozens of other creative women who are doing their best to manage their homes, make things, rear their children, live a life filled with the things that are important to me, too- handmade objects, good books, good home grown/home cooked/ organic foods, farmers markets, gardens. It makes me feel less alone in this world. It is my hope that maybe this little journal of pottery and living will help someone else realize that we are out here, and we're not that weird for having the priorities that we do.

2 comments:

Molly said...

I totally get it! We're in such an age of mass-produced this and that, it's so thoroughly satisfying to take time to connect with what we're doing; to actually know how to repair something instead of "calling a in a man to fix it", to know how to make your own socks instead of buying a pair that came from some far off factory. [gets off of soapbox]

It is a great thing!

Beth said...

I think it is cool that you make things! I wish I had more time and talent to do the same.