I'll be at stART on the Street in Worcester, MA this Sunday, Sept. 20, 11am - 6pm. It's on Park Ave between Pleasant and Highland Streets. I'm sharing a tent with Melissa Glick of Hacker Creations, and Jill Burns of Early Bird Designs will also be vending. For directions and other information, go to www.startonthestreet.org
I'm offering some shawls, some rugs, some purses, and some felt vessels like the one below. Felt smorgasbord!
When you have solved the current problem, the one behind it comes into focus, and you can solve that one. And the next problem arrives, and you can solve that one too. And so on. Progress is limited by how quickly you can address the issue currently before you. This is a life lesson that I am constantly learning, over and over again.
My felt-a-vessel-a-day personal challenge in June came out OK, overall. I made 19 small felt pots. I thought about how I can make, consistently and frequently. I thought about what to make next. Probably pots; I liked making them and I still like idea of a series of pots, of a theme to guide the making.
While making pots, it dawned on me that my workspace had become cluttered, and it had become distracting. Although much of my stuff -- tools, fleece, cloth -- was neatly boxed, there was just too much of it around and works in progress were getting lost, or there wasn't room to lay out a large project. So, painful as it was, I moved A LOT of boxes, books, and shelving down to the basement of my home, leaving relatively empty workspaces in the main living area of my home. They are now happier and calmer places.
Clearing out the upstairs opened up a sunny spot in my living room for taking product pictures, with enough space to maneuver around the tripod, light reflectors (just foam-core boards), and the dressmaking form that I drape the shawls on. A Boston Art Makers friend, Susanne of Enchanted Hue, joined me for my first photo shoot last week, and it was a really good learning experience: how to set up everything, what to do when if you are modeling your work (do not wear your nightshirt, even if it is the only dark piece of clothing handy), considering photo composition. With a ready space for taking pictures (and a new camera that can take high-quality pictures), I can update the shop site, a task long overdue, and now the current problem to address.
The clearing and sorting unlodged some lovely Coopworth fleece that I'd like to work with next. Now at least I can find everything I need.
When I am not anxious about the future – really, my future – I am grateful for today and the current seasonal weather, even if it is erratic. I am grateful that the last two weeks have had mostly beautiful happy summer weather. There is continuous birdsong from dusk til dawn – music for meditation and to soothe sleepless nights. I am grateful for health, a roof over my head, potable tap water, electricity and heat. I am grateful to live in a walkable city with culture and an excellent library system. I am grateful that I have a chance to practice creative work, even if I wonder how far I will or can go with it.
This post is super-sappy, but what IS the point of living if you don’t recognize the grace in the mundane? The mountain peaks are sporadic. The mundane is, well, always there.
Happy Belated Solstice.
June is busting out all over, so says the Rodgers & Hammerstein song (from their musical Carousel). It is a month that always feels like a speeding train that I cannot quite catch and ride. Even apart from this year's record snowfall, Boston springs are short and erratic, and consistently warm weather often arrives abruptly. This year, the transition seemed especially stark since even in early June there was chilly weather, the kind where you give up and turn on the heat at night and sleep under the covers. Boston is far enough north so that the creep of daylight steepens noticeably from day to day, and this daylight grows at the same time all the spring blossoms start out. But instead of feeling like an awakening, this burst of activity gets me anxious. You reach the apex, then there is nowhere to go but down. Once we reach the solstice, the days grow shorter. Then winter arrives again. I do wonder if I'd feel this way in a place with a milder climate. I'm fine with winter, for the most part, but I do hunker down, hibernate, and am less productive, and I am a bit slow revving up again in spring. So, sowing a regular making habit this spring, feed it with summer warmth and light, keep stoking it in autumn -- will it provide in the dead of this coming winter? Time will pass, time will tell.
I haven't made a felt vessel every day, but I've made a lot more since starting this challenge, I am becoming more mindful about whether I'm making anything, better at the self-monitoring and then addressing it (by making). Here are a few of the happy felt pots I've made so far...
It's just four days in, but I'm enjoying making a felt vessel daily. It's too early to call this a new habit, but I'm optimistic that it's one in the making. Each piece is small, and it's relatively brief (if you can describe feltmaking as brief) to lay out and finish one vessel. It is's really satisfying to have a new complete piece each day. I want to make this a daily meditation, a lovely exercise to get centered in the felt. Also, because really, I need to make more things daily....
For now, I like making this a simple exercise, following the same method each time: use the same circular plastic resist, wrap in wool, cut a hole in one place for the opening of the vase. Within these parameters, there can be a lot of variation: add prefelts for design or to alter how the piece shrinks down; sew in beads; felt in objects, and so on. How many variations can I make?
Here's a photo of an earlier vessel, also created by wrapping wool around a round plastic resist.
This coming Saturday, June 6 I'll be at the JP Crafts Fair, sharing a booth with Susanne Guirakhoo of Enchanted Hue. It's being held at First Church in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot Street (near the monument), 11am - 4pm. I'm looking forward to it!
The Dedham Open Studios was a nice day -- it's always a pleasure speaking with visitors and with the other vendors. Many of the exhibitors were members of the Dedham Square Artists Guild, and the artists of the Motherbrook Arts & Community Center were highlighted as well. Lucky town of Dedham to have such resources!
I've been doing work with my colleagues in the Boston Art Makers! collaborative to launch our new website. This is wicked exciting! It is much fun, and very helpful, working with other makers with similar goals. And given my obliger habit personality, being member of a group whose goals I share helps create an external accountability structure that I find helpful. Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives was an interesting read, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she's a little judge=y about obligers. Maybe that's just me feeling like a weenie for not being able to meet my own deadlines.
Nevertheless, external accountability keeps me alert. And I'm still dithery about making enough product or following up on an idea for a piece in a timely manner. So, for the month of June I am taking the FVAD challenge -- a Felt Vessel A Day. Each daily felting session should result in a fully felted piece sitting in the vinegar bath. The vessels don't need to be large or elaborate; my goal is to make it a close-enough-to-daily routine, even when I am doing other, related things like writing blog posts, taking pictures, updating the Etsy shop (ouch ouch ouch!) etc. Let's see how it goes. I'll post the day's work through my Instagram feed.
Did I get these baseball references correct?
I spent a good part of the weekend making nuno felt shawls, and also figuring out material, shrinkage, and shapes for zippered change purses. This morning, I felt so much better for this effort and wondered how to keep this momentum going? Coincidentally, on this same morning my Boston Art Makers colleague Bev of Linkouture posted an "amazingly simple strategy for moving you forward with your goals" on her Facebook page.
Hmm. Seek and you shall find, indeed...
My name is Ava Chan. I live in Boston with two greyhounds. I make felt. I dye and sew fabric. Studying, seeking, making textiles.