I have aprons, slips, hankies, hooked pieces, and quilts from the turn of the century. They were well used, washed often, and mended. Repeat. Linen and batiste fabrics become as fragile as onion skin ~ I am able to save only the lace.
Several plain white workaday aprons have tatted lace sewn laboriously not only around the hem, but also along the tie ends.
Even the plainest of the used hankies have a touch of delicate hand work in a corner.
This silk pocket for storing delicacies has french knots arranged in a design on the inside.
We go to artist retreats to find the serenity, space, and teachers who give us inspiration and license to create. I love these places and dream of going myself. I want to support them and encourage their vision, but it isn't the only way. It isn't only somewhere else that making pretty happens. It's right here with our own needles, box of crayons, or ball of yarn. Moments grabbed whenever it is now, in the muddle of every day, using what we have handy.
I want to be a brilliant entrepreneur, have the hottest Etsy space. I'm envious of the artists and bloggers featured in high quality creative living magazines like Somerset's, Kinfolk, and Uppercase. I want to print copious amounts of business cards and have people begging me for one. I long to hang a shingle which will make me real. When I get published, then I will be an author. It would be amazing for someone to not only want what I make, but pay to own it.
The truth is I don't sign up for an Etsy account, nor do I take the risk of submitting an article. I haven't gone to the printer's with print ready graphics for a card. I haven't cut out that shingle. Why? Maybe because I'm terrified of both success and failure. Maybe I'm content, not wanting the bother?
Motivated and rewarded extrinsically is one option, but in the cultural flurry outside, I don't want to miss the slow, warm glow growing inside of me.
It could simply be putting a sweater on a candle, making a paper box for it to nestle in, then giving it away.
These pieces of intricate work made by an unknown woman's hand, cause me to pause. I want her results. It feels like she was the lucky one, making pretty for pretty's sake alone. She used the resources at hand to satisfy her creative urges, bringing texture to her workaday life and pleasure to the ones who received these gifts.
My favorite pieces are ones like this apron. Thankfully, it was tenderly mended instead of discarded.
It seems like they made pretty for themselves ~ intrinsic motivation and reward. Often, the very tools they used are works of fine art in themselves, made with precious material like bone or exotic wood. It must have been a pleasure to use them.
The lady who labored over these tiny stitches might have lived and died in obscurity, yet her artful life was the best kind, the everyday kind. The most useful kind. She did what she could with what she had to let beauty surround her, then drip on her family and friends.
This is a tribute to my artistical girlfriends. You have hospitable homes, hearts, and art. You have quietly gifted those of us who walk through your door. You are the bravest of the brave girls who make pretty, finding great peace and satisfaction in doing so. You give me courage. You know who you are. Thank you.