This past week I attended an exhibit at the Rochester Historical Society called “All Gussied Up.” The exhibit featured 15 dresses, one from each decade of the past 150 years. It was lovely! The thing that impressed me most was the detail that was put into these dresses, especially the oldest of the bunch. The beading and the lace and layers of fabric and the attention to detail was exquisite. One of the things I love about history and museums, is picturing the people of the past. Imagining the woman who wore these beauties, what was their daily life like? Something that always piques my interest is life and society before all the technology and hyper-speed pace at which life started moving. While I was imagining the life of the high-society ladies who wore these dresses, I was captivated by the detail and beading on one dress in particular, and I couldn’t help but imagine the fingers that stitched and worked the fabric with such love and care. Could they even have imagined that their work of art would be on display 150 years later??
The irony in this was that, while I dreamed and gazed as these gowns and imagined a time where life was more about the process than progress, I was experiencing temporary amnesia of what I had experienced over the past two days. I had been working away on an order, and by the middle of the second day, something weird started coming over me. I started feel ridiculous. A conversation with myself, took over all my sensibilities and it drained me of all my energy. It came out of no where and was rather depressing. It went like this…”Why are you spending all this time on this little piece of paper? No one really cares about that. It’s not going to make you any money. Don’t you have anything better to do than to make these cards for what amounts to pennies an hour. You are silly to think that you can really turn this into a business, and you are also a little pathetic spending all of your time making silly things.” …on and on.
And then this hit me (the pictures don’t really do it justice)….
I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures, but I got a few more in before they told me to stop
And then I remembered the facts: I started making things because I like creating pretty things, I fell in love with the process of handmade, the attention to detail, the slowwwwiiiinnnnggg down, the anti-mass-producedness. I decided to make things for other people (i.e., call it a business) because it gave me a good reason to keep making things, to push my self and my creativity, to give me something of my own when stay-at-homemaker-mommyhood threatened to swallow my identity whole. Making any money was a really potential side benefit for me, but lately, all I can think about is that hand-making everything takes so much time and it doesn’t seem financially worth it, unless someone is willing to pay $10 for a greeting card. So I told…well, I am currently telling that little self-destructive voice in my head to get packing. And I am remembering the facts and continuing to strive for a simpler, slower life free from the pressures of bigger, better, faster, more, well maybe not free from those pressures, but free to send them packing!
The very next day I learned that I was accepted into Rochester’s indie craft fair! huh.