So I stumbled across this video of Marina Abramovic* on youtube today (as you do?) and it clarified something to me about how craft fits into my life. I have wondered in the past what is the point of it all. Is it just the actual act of making? Is it just to make things? Is it to make useful things? Why do I get so obsessed with following through on a particular idea? Why do I feel the need to have something in my hands on a long train trip? Why do I feel a bit pannicked when I forget said project? Why do I completely loose myself in the moment when I am taking photos or choosing fabrics for some new idea? Why am I sometimes unable to force myself cook (another) dinner because I want to work on some particular project? Why is it that i would much rather make a tee shirt for my small boy than chuck down $10 on one from Bonds? What is it all about?? Why is it such an important part of my life?
Marina is talking in the clip about art and being an artist. Which I am not. BUT I do recognise the feeling she describes at the start of the clip. And it gave me some words to describe what it is all about.
Craft as art - this is the obsessive joy part of craft for me. Marina defines it as an urge to create. I think I think of it using different words usually, but it is the urge that she describes that is such a big part of craft for me. When you wake up with an idea and it won't go away. And you find/make time just so you can get to whatever it is you are thinking about. And then you can't put it down. There is such a calm joy involved in this part of it.
There is a psychological state called flow that I think describes this feeling perfectly.
Craft in this capacity brings the true joy of being truly and completely absorbed in the moment.
Craft as comfort - this is the meditation part of craft for me. Equally vital to my everyday state of mind. This is the thing that means that I don't mind sitting in the park for an hour while the small people climb a frame. Or reading books about bears to small people for two hours while it pours down with rain outside. Or sit in the car for a 3 hour drive while people in the back (again small ones) argue about who has put a leg/hand/head into someone else's "bounds". This is the bit that keeps me sane and calm. It helps with the "waiting" parts of life. It isn't always possible to meditate but it is often possible to have something calming and natural moving through my hands in the middle of the chaos. Something that stitch by stitch is getting bigger. More quiet joy!
And while writing this I have found that there is a third one. Probably just as important but very different to the first two. The first two are all about the process. They are about the joy that comes in the doing. The final one is about the product and brings a different kind of ongoing joy.
Craft as utility - mainly about the outcome. This part of craft doesn't bring me as much joy in the process. Ocasionally I have even beeen known to be slightly resentful of this bit, as I feel it takes me away from what I truly want to be doing. It is definitely more (all?) about the end product. But that end product brings joy that isn't of the moment. It's joy that lasts. Every time I see the thing I made I get a bit of the joy.
One of my favourite examples of this isn't even something I made. The lovely Claire (who helped organise The Craft Sessions) once made a cabled DK single bed blanket. It is beautiful!! It took her about 3 years - and in a way this in itself does my head in - but she is a patient woman. But every time I see it it brings me joy. And I didn't even make it. I am sure it brings her joy too. And the same applies when I see my kids dressed in clothes I made or I wear a frock I made. Ongoing joy. Little by little.
I love that the things that I made all have this joy in them. And then this joy is littered throughout our life in the things we surround ourselves with. And that I love!
All this talking about the joy has got me thinking - crafting needs a new slogan I think. I still feel like craft sometimes gets a bad rap. What about Craft - everyday joy in so many ways. I agree it isn't that punchy yet and maybe it needs a little (lot of) work.....but I'm onto something right??
Love to hear your thoughts. Are you with me, or is it something else for you entirely? Anyone got a better slogan?
* I know very little about her but came across her through this clip of her at MoMA.