Little did I know, when I joined The Vermont Hand Crafters, last fall, that I was opening a wonderful “can of good worms.”
Normally, the mere mention of said can conjures up the possibility of imminent, overwhelming and dark challenges. While the word “overwhelming” is rather appropriate in this case, light, not darkness sets the tone.
The first bright challenge arrived after I had spent several months immersed (as much as possible) in building an inventory of paper mâché animals, gift pouches and brooches for prospect shops and galleries. A couple of clients for whom I had previously done some website design and social media management convinced me to return. I had promised myself, or so I thought, that I was done with that career path, but something in me could not resist. I accepted.
No regrets. Now, I am enjoying this more than ever, and I am convinced that it is precisely because of my restored confidence in my art and commitment to it. I feel more complete now, somehow.
The overwhelming part comes into play at this point, and lies in the fact that I have received back to back invitations to join gift shops and galleries. This, in fact, has been effortless, and all thanks to my decision to splurge (for it was a splurge at the time) on a membership with The Vermont Hand Crafters. Doors are just opening before I even knock.
I am not saying that I expect this to be the norm, and I can only do so much anyway. The last several months have been a juggling act between two or three social media or web design gigs and making room every day to build an ongoing inventory that vanishes to a new venue the moment it is complete.
This is the newest batch… and a cow was born.
Ravens on Pedestal
The raven’s pedestal
Paper mache cow with saddle trinket holder
Paper mache pig with saddle trinket holder
Paper mache and twine llama with saddle trinket holder
Paper mache menagerie
Keeping things simple is my motto. Frugal living goes right along with this notion and I try to be as practical as possible. I rarely grocery shop without a list and I know exactly how much I will spend on food each week. Extravagance I save for books, art supplies and the occasional meal at a restaurant with a good friend. And then there is coffee.
If I am to live by these self-appointed rules, driving to the corner store for coffee in the morning makes no practical sense at all. I made my own coffee for almost two years. The ritual was pleasant enough. I purchased an hour-glass brewer with cloth filter and felt quite good about the simplicity of this system, but I did not enjoy the coffee. Gourmet beans did not make it any more enjoyable. It took me a long time to figure out what was amiss.
One simple question solved the mystery: Why do I enjoy coffee from the neighborhood gas station more than the ritual-rich gourmet coffee I make at home?
You’d think that home-brewed coffee makes perfect sense for this hermit at heart, but in fact it makes no sense at all. While I thoroughly savor each solitary sip I take as I begin my work once I return home with the soothing beverage, it is all the more enjoyable since fetching it at a local deli means beginning the day with the warm greeting and playfulness of familiar faces. Simple pleasures.
Connection with others does not have to be elaborate to provide the sort of grounding experience that sets the tone for feeling at peace with the world. The brief morning encounters provided by the simple act of getting coffee at the corner store is reminiscent of the old photographs of men chatting at the local general store. This gathering provided necessary healing and uplifting communion.
I find that I do my best work when I let go of self-imposed, rigid practical rules of time and money management, and make room for connection and new ways of doing things that nurture my spirit instead.
Just completed: Paper-mâché and twine llama.