My friend Larry said to me, “why would you spend time crocheting a scarf when you could buy one for a few dollars at the store?”
It was Christmas, and I was home from college. Larry had rented a little house just a few blocks from my parent’s home, and I walked over to see him, the gift in hand. I realize it’s not that he didn’t appreciate the scarf, but out of curiosity could not comprehend why anyone would spend time “making things” they could easily purchase. Many people feel the same way.
I have been crocheting since I was in grade school. Mostly it keeps my hands busy, and I learn new techniques all the time. I’m still learning today. Even though I have been weaving since the early 80s, I’m currently learning tapestry techniques. The time it takes to weave a miniature work of art is incredible, and there is no way I could sell any of these for adequate compensation. So why do we do these things?
It’s one of my gifts. I take nothing and make something out of it. A juror at a Fargo art show said I have spirit and imagination. He loved my woven clothing so much they had to pull him out of my booth. At that time of my life, I felt like I was doing exactly what God put me on earth to do. Create and sell my art. But I had two children. And there came a time I had to put them first, so I did.
As you know, I didn’t have the heart to throw out any of my art supplies during my January cleaning phase but instead made a list of all the things I could make. Now that I am retiring from the workforce at the end of March, I can’t stop thinking about all the beautiful days I can spend making things. Of course, it’s almost time to start my seedlings, and that will take precedence over any artistic endeavors. Gardening falls right into this line of thinking.
Do you have items in your homemade by hand? If you have an artist’s ceramic mug for your coffee, do you think of the person that made it every time you use it?
I am currently reading a book in which the author mentions gifting instead of buying things. If we knew who made things in our house and grew our food, would we not appreciate these things more? Instead of filling our homes with tons of stuff made by people we will never meet, we would own fewer cherished items. If we accepted these handmade goods as gifts in exchange for money to keep artists in business, would we all appreciate each other more as well?
It’s a little far-fetched, I know, an economy that thrives on local, but it has been done before. I guess if we readjust our thinking a little to acknowledge the hands of everyone who makes, bakes, grows, stocks shelves, work cash registers and brews our designer coffees, would we be more appreciative of what we have. If we look to everything as a “gift” and we reciprocate with gratitude and see the people behind those things, would we not all be a bit more grateful and thoughtful about our purchases?
Ah, just strolling down memory lane as I recover from a bit of a cold. I remembered the small communities that held everything we needed for day-to-day life. No more, no less. A time never to return, except in our hearts and minds. Or maybe?
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.