Crafty Like That

December 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

For a long time, I let the imaginary divide between “real art” and “craft” steer me away from fabric arts and into painting. While I enjoy painting a lot, I’m ashamed at how old I was before realizing how inherently sexist this classification is.

The work that other artists have mastered for the sake of beautifying their homes and the lives of their families is no less challenging or “real”. I underestimated how hard it was as a new mother, and dove headfirst into sewing projects. Between grad school and a new child, I didn’t have the time or energy to master the basic steps before tackling her first Halloween costume. As Trick-or-Treaters arrived at the door, I was still trying to attach a furry green tail to the back of an unlined vest, disappointed that I wasn’t capable of doing more.

Izzy's first Halloween costume. I'm sorry, kid.

Izzy’s first Halloween costume. I’m sorry, kid.

After I graduated and no longer could depend on daycare to help out, the demands of cleaning up after a 15-month-old, cooking everything from scratch, and freaking out over typical childhood injuries pushed my artistic practice in a digital direction. {It’s a lot harder for a kid to hurt themselves using the items in Photoshop than any of the items typically found in an artist studio. My head hurts at the memory of all the aerosol I used to make “real art.”}

Thinking back on the amount of spraypaint used for this half-finished piece, I now get why I didn't finish it.

Thinking back on the amount of spraypaint used for this half-finished piece, I now get why I didn’t finish it.

By focusing on making art for public consumption versus private enjoyment, we can often lose sight of taking on even more challenging tasks. Pleasing the ever-changing tastes of a three-year-old is an excellent multi-purpose exercise: speed, flexibility, creativity, and humor come back into the artistic practice, and can only improve future projects.

With the goal of once again working for my favorite client, I picked up the needle and thread yesterday. I drew out patterns on felt, solicited input, and made something that arguably could have been bought in the cat section at Pet Smart for 1/20th of the cost in terms of labor and supplies.

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Despite its shortcomings, Isobel received it happily. She watched me while I worked to see what goes into making projects from scratch. The process is just as important as the product. I’m starting smaller and building my skills up again in a new medium, and my daughter is learning that we all have to start somewhere.

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