Thanksgiving was my favorite childhood holiday, a celebration of the best that we had. Of all the holidays we marked, this is the one that punctuated our daily life as a farm family.
Ned and I are hosting Thanksgiving with family for the first time in our shared home. In the center of the table features produce from Oak Hart Farm on a ceramic tray from Center Ring Designs set upon a runner from my own studio. The farmer and the potter are friends with whom we share community. I have arrived home for the harvest.
Creating requires practice and it produces left overs. We are a studio mindful of good economy and careful stewardship. Practice prints of trees for a chasuble are reserved for other secular art work. Paint and dye techniques practiced on silk dyes reappear on clergy stoles and women’s apparel.
I learned the lessons of practice and left overs growing up on a farm. The practice jacket for a 4-H project was not made from muslin, but rather an inexpensive cotton that was serviceable. The batches of practice brownies made the month before the county fair were snacks for farm workers. Grandma Alice’s midweek menu often included a “mess” of something, which was usually a tasty medley of this and that. Of course, patch work quilts were the destiny of fabric left from cutting clothing.
These work habits are now labeled generative and derivative work. I add time to production schedules of major projects to include intentional production of cloth that will generate new art work. I organize work space to facilitate quick cuttings of small gift items derived from both the ideas and materials of large projects. I hope to work with greater focus, continued expertise, and deeper expression.
On the nights we eat spaghetti in front of the television, we carry out artisan crafted Waterford tables made by our friend Ron Light.
In our home these are artifacts, as is the antique table crafted by my husband’s father when he was in high school. We use these items in our daily lives. We admire the workmanship. We celebrate the makers.
Most of our furniture, dishes, and clothing are mass-produced. Utilitarian, attractive, but not in the artifact category. This is my own definition. Hand crafted. Utilitarian. Valued.
My email signature lists me as artist and artisan. I have made textiles into artifacts for over four decades. That gives me joy.