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Monday, January 28, 2008

Craft - making the world a prettier and better place?


"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" Ecclesiastes 9:10

I first discovered this quote on a cross-stitch sampler and it has always stuck with me. I have no great knowledge of the Bible or scripture, so my interpretation is personal. As an artist/crafter and former academic, the quality of "by hand" is extremely important to me. There is just so much more connection to the world and the people around us who make the products that fill our lives. Take this pair of earrings: unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful (if I do say so myself, and I should since I made them - sorry NFS).

Components: ear wires, headpins, metal spacer beads, amazonite beads, seed beads, plastic beads and glass beads, and plastic backers since I am horrendous about only losing the earrings that I adore. Tools: needlenose pliers, chainnose pliers, wire cutters, metal file, nylon jaw pliers. Sources: garage sales, large chain craft stores-Joann's and Michaels, hardware stores -Home Depot, independent bead shops, my favorite local place is Bodacious Beads in Hillsboro, Oregon. Time: about an hour and a half, not including shopping and percolating of the idea.

As an artisan selling these as one of a kind earrings with gemstone and recycled materials, I might realistically expect $25-45, if I had an established name I might actually make a profit by asking $45-65. Of course, I do have to pay retail for my supplies which does greatly affect my material cost and admittedly I am not doing production work so I work very hard to make each piece an original which greatly increases my time.

Now. . . what if I go to the Fred Meyer, Target or the mall? What would I reasonably expect to pay for a pair of earrings? Given that the materials are wholesale, production items, with the possibility of assembly line work, most likely shipped from overseas, how much is the person who designed the earrings earning and then how much is the person physically creating the earrings earning?

I don't have the answers, seriously, I'm not an economist or whatever. But it makes me think. . . can the artisan who is making the majority of jewelry I've bought in my life be making a living wage in decent working conditions?

Do I now make most of my own jewelry so my conscience is clean or am I really helping by being part of the handmade movement? Or do I make my own jewelry so I can bliss out in the process and then revel in my sense of accomplishment? Doing it with all my might.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Learning curve technology rant

Wah, Wah, Wah! Woe is me! All this blogging stuff is too hard. Just kidding! Jeesh! But the learning curve is a bitch for someone as technologically lazy as I am. I don't have anything against technology. I used to know how to maintain my PowerBook (I am a dinosaur, I know, give me a break already) but then I got married to a techie and now I am spoiled. The only problem is he works too damn much and I don't know how to do didly squat anymore.

I am waiting for the real deal . . . a super, simple little chip in my head that lets me have it all, absolutely seemlessly integrated into my life. Will I be the first in line for this humanity-altering technology? Hell no! I'll let all the uber-techies work out the bugs first while crossing my fingers and half-assedly preparing for a potential takeover by mental cyborgs. I'm lazy, not crazy.

There was a story about this in Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, I think, several (ok, at least ten) years ago. This type of technology created a completely new stage of human evolution. Haves, have-nots, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer . . . So, what's my point? We can't put the genie back in the bottle, and we shouldn't. But seriously, how many cell conversations are totally asinine? Our intellect seems to be less important than our ringtones. We need to catch up and use our gadgets and our minds to do the harder, more important stuff.

I could be talking about politics, world peace, hunger or disease here, but my thoughts are smaller, more localized. I am striving for balance between all the contradictory fragments of the technological world. I can converse with strangers around the world if I choose, but I want to pick a tomato from my own garden, walk my children to school. For me, a life completely focused on one thing, although it seems enviable at times, does not feel possible. The world is just too vast, there is so much to learn. . . like how to post images with my text. . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Year, new obsessions

Finally, I am here . . . ready to share my wacky life with the world, whoever would like to join me on this journey - welcome! Since it is a New Year, my resolution is Time Management. I know it sounds horribly vague, but it really is the symptom and cure for many of my persistent problems.

"I don't have enough (or ANY) time to make art, I have too many projects, I can't keep up with the laundry. . . Spelling words? Who has time to cook healthy meals? Exercise!? Spirituality!? Gardening!? Couple time?"

Honestly, life is complicated and we have so many choices facing us everyday. Right now I really should be folding laundry, BUT . . . I need to tell you how addicted I am to my daughter's American Girl doll, Nellie. So cute. . . the clothes, the shoes, the doll doesn't scream when I brush her hair or stick a pin in her (oops!). Damn you, Santa!
Of course, being me, short on cash and high on ambition, I have to make Nellie's clothes and since we are going to Bend next week for a winter vacation, Nellie needs a coat- black velvet with faux zebra trim, an ice skating outfit and warm pants, a sweater and a blue velvet hat.
I have already made Nellie a nightgown of white printed cotton and yellow lace trim with matching felt slippers and a funky gray turtleneck dress. She has her main outfit with the accessories and the cheerleading outfit from American Girl. My daughter, A, has told me that Nellie's favorite color is blue. Good to know! And my niece, C, swears that she saw Nellie breathe, "For real."
My poor boy, E! Or maybe he is lucky to miss out on this doll madness.