Monday, July 03, 2017

I Just Want to Make....

I was in the bowels of our ancient farmhouse today trying to sort out a bit of a water crisis with my terrific plumber over text message. I came upstairs to find these beautiful flowers on the kitchen island. Don't know what they are or who brought them but I will enjoy them. 

Over a decade ago now, a young friend of ours named Jen came to visit. She was just getting out of college after studying merchandising. She was finding it hard to find a job and I was telling her about the career I had and giving her ideas for job hunting. I asked Jen what it was that she really wanted to do with her life. She looked at me and thought for a moment. Her response was

"I just want to make the world a beautiful place."

When The Farmer came home from baling hay, I told him about Jen's visit. She was the daughter of good friends of ours and he had known Jen since she was an infant. I told him what she said her career goal was and we both talked about how sweet the idea was. 

Ever since that conversation with Jen, I have thought about her comment. How do you make the world a beautiful place? And what is a beautiful place? What is beautiful for me may not be beautiful for you. Do you create beauty with things that you buy and decorate with? Do you create beauty with good deeds? Do you create beauty by working for world peace? Do you create beauty by planting seeds to grow into beautiful blue lupines like in the children's book Miss Rumphius? Do you plant a beautiful garden to feed your neighbors? Do you create beauty by teaching people new things? Do you create beauty by seeing the beautiful in every little thing? Do you create beauty by sharing ideas and turning someone on to a new craft or technique that may change the course of their life? 

When Jen first spoke those words to me, I thought about how they could be mis-construed - to be thought of as superficial. I can remember my mom talking about beauty only being skin-deep. We were to know that it was what was inside the person which was the most important - not what is on the outside. That physical beauty was not important and should not be thought of as the end all of end all. 

The other day, we were talking about what makes people tick at dinner. We were talking about each of us and what was important to us in our individual lives - in fact it could be thought of as what we find beautiful. As I watch Julia grow into a young woman, I wonder what her path will be. Where will she find her inner passion and what she will find "beautiful". For her Dad, his idea of beauty is the natural world, his remarkable sheep, their life cycle and how we are feeding our community, and the love of the world and landscape around us that he farms and looks after everyday. 

I've been thinking about what my "beauty" is. When am I the most fulfilled and happy? As I have been throwing pots the last couple weeks, I think about this as the wheel spins round and round, as I pull the clay up and form it into a cylinder, as I stretch the clay into a handle and attach it to the vessel. I think my definition of beauty is when I am deep into a project and have lost myself in it. When I am thinking about what I am making, planning on what it will look like, and then working it out. The thing could be a pot, a garden, a book, a painting, an embroidery, or a good meal. Often when the "thing" is done, the magic subsides and goes away. I still like the thing and find it pretty or useful but the real beauty for me is in the act of creation - the spark of my imagination and mind of what the thing will look like and then the intimate creation. I find it truly amazing that I can dream something up in my head and then make it happen with my hands. It doesn't always come out the way I originally thought it up and that is the fun of it - to see where I am led by the materials and the process. 

I've been teaching classes here at our farm since 2009. Every year, I think about not doing them. Mostly I think about that because I don't want to go through the agony of cleaning my house.  A couple years ago, I tried to let that go - the cleaning thing. It's hard because I always think of my mom cleaning before her mom came to visit - stressing out that everything has to be just right. I realized that the women that come here to learn from me really could care less if there is some dust and clutter. They aren't here to inspect my housekeeping skills (thank goodness). They are here to be inspired and to take away a little of the magic and beauty that I have made here at our farmhouse.  

So those are my thoughts for today. If you are wondering what happened to our friend Jen, she found a good job in merchandising with Anthropologie and she literally did make the world a more physically beautiful place. And now she has a couple beautiful kids too. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on beauty. Leave them in the comments. 

Here are some beautiful links for you to peruse today -- at least I find them beautiful.

•My friend Lisa is teaching at The Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton Maine this summer. Check out the classes here. Lots of beauty to make. 

• Good article on Barbara Cooney, the author of Miss R here.

• I'm still crazy over Josef Frank's textiles. I just found a page I tore from Arts and Antiques over twenty years ago - that must have been where I discovered him before the www. Good article from NYT here

p.s. There are still a few spots left in the July 15/16 Fabric Printing + Lampshade Painting Class. You can come for one or two days. Would love to see some of you here at the farm. Two days $360. One day $199. More info here

Here are the lampshades that the students painted last year.

Here is a photo of some of the lampshades I have made. 


Liza Kirschner said...

What lovely thoughts - I do some crafting and always feel as if I give a little piece of myself to whatever I do. My particular way of perhaps making the world a but more beautiful is to smile at people. Sometimes I get a blank stare but often people will smile back with real connection. Smiles are so precious!

Gail the Kangaroo Dyer said...

Kristin, This post resonated with me 100%! I realize it when I come upon something I made years ago. The recognition is like a flog lifting, "Oh, that looks familiar to me, but why" Then I realize it's something I made. It's not the thing, but the making that gives me pleasure. I LOVE reading your thoughts. xo

Lee said...

I love this post! I agree that there are many ways to make the world a more beautiful place; some large and others small. Your work makes the world more beautiful and I will miss being there this summer.

Judi Hughes said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this blogpost. It resonates with me. My daughter is an artist and art therapist and has found the power of creating and immersion in creation to be an invaluable tool to support self discovery and healing.

Patricia Ritter said...

I loved this article, Kristin. Creating beauty is sometimes an act of courage as we deal with whatever is going on in the world.
Creating beauty in that safe haven of your home uplifts the people who live there as well as the people who visit. And please don't worry about cleaning your house!

Kristin Nicholas said...

We will miss you this year Lee! Cant wait to hear about the trip. Happy 4th.

Karen Budnick said...

Loved your thoughtful post, Kristin. Here are mine, for what they're worth. I've been knitting a pale blue hooded baby jacket for a month. The closer it gets to being finished, the more I'm admiring my own work. I especially love the way the little cables run down the fronts, back and sleeves. Would I spend so much time making garment that I thought was not beautiful? I know it's the thought that counts. I may never see this sweater on the baby I'm knitting it for. Parents I've knitted for rarely think about sending me a photo of their pride and joy wearing "mine". So I say, beauty, for its own sake is enough for me. And I'm one who enjoys creating beauty, whenever and where ever I can.

kongponleu88 said...
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Sally said...

Beauty in the world. I'm drawn to it. I find a little piece of it here. Thank you, my dear. xo

Mary Lou Justason said...

What a joy it was to read your post this morning, Kristin. I am a rug hooker way up in Ontario, Canada, and for over 45 years I have been sharing my love of this very old craft.

Sharing is what gives me joy and I still do it.

Mary Lou in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada (home of the longest fresh water beach in the world)

Jacki Long said...

Carol Mulvenon referred your post today and I am so glad she did. I so enjoyed your views and your beautiful writing.

I think you hit the spot with the pure joy of creating to the point that the outside world doesn't exist. Whether for a few minutes or more, that's the beauty, or happy spot for me too. Thanks Kristin.

Esther Rubin said...

Hi Kristin,
I loved this post because it really got me thinking about how or where or when I find beauty and how important it is to take the time to notice this in our daily lives. Creating with my hands has always been an important part of what makes life meaningful to me. If it is appreciated by others, well that's just an extra bonus, but mostly it's for my own satisfaction. Being kind to others is also when I find beauty in the connections I have with family and others. Thanks again for sharing this beautiful post.

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