Sunday, 3 February 2019


Leonard has a cold and I stayed home with him on Thursday. We went to Spotlight so I could get some things I needed for work. With his uncanny, unerring instinct for the very worst craft project imaginable, of all the billions of bits of craft stuff in Spotlight, Lenny homed in on this thing. It calls itself a 'Sparkle Sticker'. The template thing is sticky and you are supplied with little plastic packets containing coloured half-hemispherical beads of plastic - the kind of thing that is killing the oceans - and you have to pick up each little bit of coloured plastic with a sticky stylus and dab it onto a correspondingly coloured dot on the template.

Even Lenny found it hilarious that the package had the word 'Quick' written on it. I am helping him with this, in small bursts, awful as it is. I would like to protect him, as far as possible, from too many experiences of what it is like to have a project drag on for ever and become not fun any more but instead an implement of self-torture.

I've got three sewing projects on at the moment. I have a little bit of work remaining on a linen caftan I am giving to a friend - there's hardly anything left to do but I ran out of thread and haven't had time to buy more in the same colour; I'm making multiple sets of numbered cloth bags for the volunteers at work to use in organising the objects in a new education program I have been working on for several months; and I've cut out a skirt in striped linen to be lined with checked silk. I sort of thought I might get at least one of them done over the weekend but in the hot weather I poured my mental energy into housework and parenting channels instead.

All of these sewing projects are things In Progress as opposed to Unfinished. They will all be finished soon and they will be, in their different ways, expressions of what it is that I do, more often than not, when I make something, whether it is a sewn object, a piece of writing, or some other creative work, at this stage of my life when I've been making things, and thinking about what it means to make things, for a very long time. That is, they'll be unique, interesting, useful and beautiful works, with a lot of careful thinking and exploration involved in their conception, and made with a high degree of technical accomplishment and artistry.  And I will feel a sense of achievement in having created something that is uncompromisingly successful on its own terms.  But also, in my lower, weaker moments, I will look at what I've made and then look at my peers, at my friends even, who do their creative work in modes where the contribution to the culture happens in a larger and more conventionally visible way, and feel sad and bitter that the media I use will never afford me the simple satisfaction of having my work acknowledged for what it is.

I hate thinking like that. It's a zero sum game and stupid to boot, but I can't always fight it off. Paradoxically, perhaps, the best remedy I know of for profitless negative reflections on the uselessness of one's highly polished skills is the absorption that comes from exercising them for all they're worth.

Energy and time have to be reserved for the doing of good work, and where those commodities simply cannot be obtained, kindness and patience with the self is absolutely necessary. I am not very good at doing any of this. Tomorrow I will have to go to work very early to write a report I forgot to do on Friday, then I will be training the volunteers in the new program for most of the day, then school pickup then yoga, then an ambiguous hour or two, then enough sleep to handle a Tuesday composed of laps at the pool, therapy, more training, school pickup, cooking and cleaning, and then, the arrival of the next round of ambiguous hours; maybe there will be time and energy to do the work that brings satisfaction.

Or maybe I will only have enough of myself to lie still and read my book.


Casp said...

Today at an exhibition I saw an unfinished vest half-embroidered by Captain Cook's wife Elizabeth. So the unfinished craft object has a long history!

JahTeh said...

I almost ran out of energy just reading this post. I'm sitting in the middle of the most appalling mess which seems to be imitating the Sargasso sea since nothing ever moves no matter what I pick up and put away.