The Love of Handwork

151021 Baskets

Fall has come and gone up in the hills – we are now entering the halcyon days.  Days with that feeling of urgency to get things done before the snow flies.  There are a handful of projects that I really should get done before dark today but a post from a friend struck such a chord with me this morning I needed to share it.

Screw Finding Your Passion by Mark Manson was a post that was music to my ears.  It’s something I’ve known intuitively my entire adult life yet I’d bought into what others had told me.  I needed a plan, I should find what I love to do and make a living doing that.  In the back of my mind I was sort of calling bullshit because my passions are many.  They are always evolving.   I am one of those people who moves from craft to craft but will only move on when the obsession has brought what I consider perfection.  I will work a skill to its highest level I know.

I’ve been this way my entire life.  Focus and move on.  The problem is that as far as society is concerned what I’ve focused on has never been a way “to make a living”.  I think the reality is there are many ways to make a living and without a passion for something it sometimes doesn’t seem worth it.  I’ve almost always worked a job that was less than exciting while I pursued my passions.

I’ve recently begun weaving baskets again after a twenty year or more hiatus.  Basketry goes hand in hand with weaving textiles – all have the same structure, just different materials.  Baskets are 3 dimensional, practical and the materials are fairly inexpensive.  I could go harvest things in my back forty to weave and it’s been just another reason to go for a walk about to see what’s out there.  Always a different way to see.

With so many years of crafting under my belt I have found now that my real passion is for teaching others to do these things.  I feel everyone should make something with their hands – to feel the satisfaction of a finished product unique to them.  Learning a craft expands your way of thinking, exercises your brain.  As we get older I think we all need to continually learn something new.

I’ve begun teaching people to weave baskets, of all kinds.  I started by conning my daughter and grandson into making one.  Making these things is an all day affair so it’s not always easy to convince someone it’s worth doing.

150815 Baskets Cait and Francis

Yes, they were smiling here but by the end they were grumbling.  I look at this as planting seeds.  I was asked why would they need to know how to do this?  I told them they now had skills – if they ever needed a vessel they would know how to make one.  And their vessels were beautiful and I think they both walked away proud of that they accomplished.  Maybe some day they will want to make another.

I put out a message on social media that if anyone wanted to learn to make a basket to contact me and we would do it.  People responded and I am teaching which is good but there has been a huge unexpected bonus.

Weeks after I shared I’d be doing this I was contacted by a dear friend from several lifetimes ago.  I had not seen or spoken to her for over 18 years.  She was visiting her sister and they wanted to make a trip to Fort Pelham Farm to make a basket.

151023 Baskets with Linda and Vicky

The results speaks for itself but I have to say that the passion for weaving baskets has changed from the crafting of the basket itself to the crafting and cultivation of friendships, new and old.  Honestly, that’s something I can truly be passionate about.

3 thoughts on “The Love of Handwork

  1. I agree with you — it’s not so much the specific craft you are teaching someone, it’s that they can learn to do something new and they can gain competency. It’s the expansion of their horizons that enriches their life, and gaining a new area to build connections in. Your students will always feel a connection to basket-makers in other eras and other cultures, even if they never make another basket themselves.

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