Over the years Bob has described me as ‘goal oriented.’ He seems to think that I am overly focused on finishing things, and even perhaps that I define my ‘success’ in the number of finished projects I complete in a year. I’ve never felt this defines me, and only recently have I realized what might be a better description of my compulsions. I need to be making things. It is wonderful therapy for me to spend a day in my home studio working toward some finished item. It’s not the finished project that entices me nearly as much as the act of spending a day using my skills to make something. It’s definitely the process of making over the having of a finished object that motivates me, but I will admit that finishing things feels great! I have spent a wonderful six weeks this fall engaged in making.
I have been working on some tiny baskets during the past few weeks, each one only 2″ in diameter. My favorite supplier of basket materials is DELS in Freetown, Massachusetts. Their in-house scrimshander (a female, so perhaps scrimshandress?) did the lovely scrimshaw for the handles of my baskets. The scrimshaw is done on old piano keys. The unfinished one in the foreground is one of three I’m making for my three young grandchildren. These did not get finished due to not having enough waxed linen. They are made with bleached staves and weavers which makes them look a little like ivory. I have scrimmed piano keys for these as well, candy canes on the two baskets with red waxed linen, and blue snowflakes on the basket with blue waxed linen, plus the children’s names and the years they were born. These little baskets are woven in 2/2 twill (over 2, under 2) while the adult baskets are woven in plain weave with natural cane and weavers. I only finished two of the three needed for the grandchildren, so these will have to wait until next year. It is what it is!
This year I needed three hand made presents for the various groups I go to throughout the year. One is my lace group, and that was the first holiday party that took place this month. I am the least skilled lace maker in this group, so I certainly wasn’t going to make any lace for a present. Also, I am incredibly slow at making lace! I opted to make a cover cloth which is used to protect lace while you are not working on it. This was a completely machine made item, embellished on an embroidery machine and then machine sewn to a lining. Still, the placement of the embroidered bobbins took me hours to do. That’s another skill I am inexperienced at accomplishing. The embroidery pattern was for one bobbin, and I wanted three placed almost the way I got them positioned on the fabric.
The lining fabric came from Spoonflower and has a wonderful array of lace making images in the print–bobbins, tatting shuttles, bits of lace and tatting.
The small group within my large statewide weaving guild also had a holiday party for which we needed to bring a present. The theme was to make something out of a scrap of fabric. A small treasure bag is what was recommended. Well, since I don’t make clothing, I don’t have scraps! I decided to make a tiny tapestry and a bit of kumihimo and somehow turn them into a bag. This became the most therapeutic process over the span of three afternoons. I enjoyed every minute of making this bag.
The tiny tapestry, sett at 12 epi, uses a technique for ‘couching’ that I learned this summer in a workshop with Fiona Hutchison. Wrapping and couching a larger diameter weft that floats on the surface of the tapestry creates a wonderfully dimensional effect. I’ll be using this technique more and more. After weaving the small piece, I enjoyed making the kumihimo braid and then machine sewing the small bag which brought the whole thing together. I am happy with the project, which is the best part of enjoying the process of making–being satisfied with the end result!
The last thing I made was a set of four pot holders. This was by far the least enjoyable project. I won’t make many more of these, although I am frequently drawn the patterns you can create in a potholder. This was the pattern I made in the “Potholder Wizard” program.
I made four of these, two each with a light background and a reversed dark background. Here are two of them.
And so the holiday season has started. I’m content that I carved out enough time to make things and that these went to people who expected to receive a handmade gift rather than to those who might not want this kind of present! It was time well spent for me to indulge my love of making, and giving the gifts to other makers was an additional perk.
It’s time to head back downstairs to begin wrapping the presents for family and friends. These are mostly bought items. A couple of them are handmade by others, and then there are my tiny baskets which will go to my two sons and their partners, and then eventually the bleached ones will go to my grandchildren.
I’ll close with a personal holiday image. Here is one of our grand-dogs on a walk with our son on the Columbia campus in New York, taken by our wonderful Melody.
Today is the first day of Hanukah, and it’s less than a week until Christmas. Whatever you celebrate in this season I wish you time for making and time for giving. I’ll be back in the new year, in a very different setting.