Friday, January 13, 2023

Three More Words

I learned to sew as a young girl - first with Barbie and doll clothes and then moving into my own wardrobe as a teenager and eventually sewing for my own little family. But in junior high school the first item I learned to make was an apron to use in the cooking part of the class.

For Chrismas that year I made my mother an apron, I was very proud of my accomplishment and thrilled by her response. A few years later she passed away and I found the apron in a drawer - still looking lovely and unused. I was crushed ... I understood that she wanted to keep it in good condition and perhaps it was a special treasure to her. But she totally missed the point of the gift - it was for her to use.

Perhaps you have had a similar experience, the quilt gifted to a friend that gets put away "to save it for good", a pretty vase that is put in the cupboard for special occasions and never seen again? How sad that is!

Another phrase on my studio wall illustrates my feelings about this - "it's not precious" As a dyer, printer and painter of fabrics that are used in my artwork, sometimes I make a fabric that is so beautiful  that I want to save it ... for what? Eventually I will use it, so why not use it now? It might be the same with an expensive paint brush or gorgeous hand spun yarn - the potential of the product has not been realized - it must become something in order to fulfill its purpose. The item was created for use - not to be stored away in a drawer!

A second part of "it's not precious" is "there will be more". It's not precious, there will be more. More fabric, more brushes, more paint, more yarn. And it will be waiting there for us to use, to make it real. 

A brush may be hand made, from the rare wood, special sable hairs, hand crafted with care and attention but it is a brush, designed with a purpose in mind. My brushes are not beautiful but they are used, over and over and over again...there will be more!

Then I start thinking about how I've lived my life - my life is precious and sacred, not doubt at all. But what happens when I say "no" to something because it might be too special, or I don't feel worthy? It becomes a road not taken, an experience not enjoyed. Isn't that rather selfish - the door is open and I can choose - close it or walk through.

I always want to walk through...and use the good stuff!


Ana said...

This is wonderful. I think about that every time I put on the apron my grandmother gave me when I was 13 years old. I wear it to paint, and at first I felt guilty because it was getting dirty. But now I am happy I am using it. I saved it for a lot of years, but now every time I use it I have a part of my Abu with me. And yes, I agree about using your best materials because there will always be more. Thanks for this wonderful post.

Andrea said...

‘It must become something in order to fulfil its purpose’. That really resonated as I have a stash of truly beautiful papers that i have never yet used. Yes, what AM i waiting for? Thanks Susan.

Kathleen Theriault said...

My antique south East Asian basket collection is extensive. For years I displayed them above my fireplace on the mantel. I loved looking at them but finally I put them to use as containers for bread, fruit, sewing supplies, etc. Now I get to use them and enjoy them so much more!

Eileen Bayda said...

Your comments resonated with me in a huge way. Not only is my ancestry Scottish, but I also grew up in a home where this was the usual practice. We all had “good clothes” that were only worn for Sunday and special occasions. I collect depression glass & it has been displayed beautifully in antique cabinets for many years. Recently, I sold my stoneware & we are now using the depression glass plates, etc. daily. It is wonderful to enjoy these treasures and remember the adventures that led to their purchase. Thanks Susan

Mary said...

After my first cousin passed, her brother brought me some things that belonged to my grandmother. There was her small sewing basket and some pieces of different sets of silverware. When I thought about what to do with it, it dawned on my that I should use it! So every day when I eat, I think of her as I decide which forks to use. Then I also decided to get necklaces made from some very intricate spoons for me and my niece.

Darcy Berg said...

Yes! Yes! This is a hard lesson for me. I come from a mid-Western family of Scandinavian immigrants and they didn't have much. To save things because they were special was a way of life. My mother gave me her wedding silver. At first I kept it in the silver chest it came in. Then I watched a episode of PBS's Art and Craft. They said that the silver was meant to be used everyday. That it was strong enough and would never be damaged. And you wouldn't have to removed the tarnish on them because it wouldn't be there. I have been using it everyday for the last 20 years. I love using it. And I have never had to use tarnish remover. Thank you, Susan!

Anonymous said...

Use can be called "patina" and be highly prized. I think of Native American peoples of the Northwest who made beautifully carved used-everyday objects -- spoons and hooks and baskets...The beautiful everyday object lifts us somehow.

Susan Purney Mark said...

Thank you everyone for the comments! They were all so appreciated and each so individual but united on their message - use the good stuff!