About a week or so ago as I was talking to a few co-workers about some of my projects at home, a couple of them expressed the opinion that some of my interests aren’t exactly, shall we say, normal. Specifically, they expressed their opinions on my current project of restoring a Macomber loom and my eagerness to finish it so I could start weaving on it. Remarks were made such as ‘if you want fabric, you can buy it at a fabric store’ and a total lack of understanding was shown about how anyone could possibly find standing in a hot garage sanding and refinishing wood fulfilling.
I wasn’t necessarily offended by their comments. I’m used to being considered slightly off centered. Quite honestly, it’s been years since I’ve felt the need to be ‘like everyone else.’ Junior high and part of high school were the last times I felt that way and even then, I definitely marched to the beat of my own drum and did my own thing. What I did feel was sadness for them that none of the joy they get from life is provided by the satisfaction of making something, be it through cooking or building or crafting.
For me, working with my hands is something that is necessary to my life. Admittedly, I am an artist. I work as a graphic designer. I also write as part of my job. But I need more than just those professional pursuits. And there is something extremely satisfying to me in making something with my hands. Be it a loaf of bread, a dress, or a piece of furniture. I am currently taking great joy in seeing the wood of my loom being transformed under my hands from the dirty, beaten, somewhat water stained pieces that it came to me as into golden, glowing beautiful pieces that reflect the history of the loom. I love taking flour, salt, butter, and water and working them together into a piecrust to be filled with fresh fruit. I love that the rooms in my house have been transformed by paint I have applied, and that for one of those painting projects my hands were joined by the willing hands of my daughters and my friends. What an incredible act of love and generosity that was!
I also love that when I walk on the floor of my studio space, I’m walking on a floor that my husband and I put in together. Yes, it took longer. Yes, we had sore muscles from bending and kneeling on the floor to install it. But it was also a joint goal, a joint venture into the unknown. We had never done a project of this type before and weren’t sure we could do it. But we did jump in and we succeeded. As we also succeeded when we built the table for my studio where I sit typing this and the TV/stereo stand in our den: both pieces that were built by us from my designs.
No, I don’t expect these women to ever understand why I do these things. But I do know that at some point in time they will envy a shawl I’ve woven on my soon to be restored loom. Or more probably, I’ll come in with a cake or similar homemade goodie that they will fall on and devour. And I’ll look at their perfectly manicured hands and smile quietly, knowing that while my hands may not look beautiful, they have the advantage over theirs in being able to create beauty.