Working on an Antidote

Spent the first part of today’s studio time gathering/preparing fibers for an “Antidote” scarf:  natural light brown merino, dyed cinnabar and coral merino roving, Wensleydale locks in shades of pumpkin and warm coral, hand-dyed silk fabrics strips in colors ranging from inky black to bronze, deep burnished orange and soft purple, my prefelts in earth tones, deep purple and gold, honey colored tussah silk roving…

I started making what I called “Antidote” scarves during the flu hype two years ago, as a way to express and work through my anxiety.   Each scarf was completely different, vibrant, with uneven and burnished-looking edges, silk fabric placed on patterns made of prefelt shapes creating highly-textured areas, and with designs flowing right off the edges.  Sometimes I grounded the overall design by using an earthy-colored background for the top layer of the scarf.

Today, as I worked on preparing the studio for a felting session, I thought about the idea of “a living wage” as it relates to artists.  I felt so fortunate to be home: my grandchild napping nearby, Elsa the dog snoozing in the studio.   What is fair compensation for work this pleasant, done in the comfort of home?  What do artists need…?  Do artists who work slowly on one-of-a-kind pieces have different needs for compensation than those who prolifically produce many, many works?

I have no answers.   In general, artists need what every other person needs: security, with regard to health care and food and shelter.  So many artists craft and barter their way to a beautiful life; and for many of us, there is less need to “escape” monotony or drudgery of the work life.  Many artists weave work and social time, travel and adventure and play time together.  But… work is work; and artists do not have more time than others to accomplish what needs to be done in one day or in one life.

The world needs art; and artists know when the work they are doing is consistent with what the world needs: it is not a “created” need, as in advertising.  We listen with our ears, and our hands and eyes and spirit.   Sometimes affirmation comes in the form of sales and commissions, but this does not necessarily help us do the work that is consistent with our deepest longing or best ability.   Success is a jumping off place, not a place to put down roots.

What do artists need?  I suspect that what we need the most is freedom.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Polka Dot Theory

Why do so many people love polka dots?  We put them on children’s clothing, umbrellas, scarves, ties, skirts.  Somehow, polka dots make us happy.

Because I was an English major, of course I looked up “polka dot”  for this post.  The phrase derives from the popularity of the polka — that “fast dance for couples, developed in Bohemia in the early 19th century.” (New World Dictionary)

An intentional pattern of dots is a design that’s simple to comprehend, energetic, whimsical and upbeat, bold but still contained.  Sort of like the polka dance itself.  Unlike organic patterns that have variety, the standard polka dot is a regular, predictable, all-over dot.  It’s exuberant, but still tamed.  I noted in a fashion article that polka dots are a popular motif for the new season.  Not trendy about fashion myself, my response to learning about a trend is NOT to buy an item in the trend but to wonder why, at this moment in our culture, this particular trend has become popular.

We return to the past to figure out the present, and the present is difficult for so many people.  So we’re drawn, once again, to the whimsical, smile-inducing polka dot.  When the choice is possible, choose happiness.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment