wordy wondering…again

Sometimes I wonder.

As of late, in the curious world we are living in, I feel more and more that I am an outsider. More than just an outsider ( I have always been that) but as I have talked about before, the sort of species that is on the endangered list.  Something that is becoming extinct. As someone who for SOME reason believed I could become anything I wanted to to be (and I became an independent artisan) I feel that choice is in rapid decline in our world.  Maybe it is just me-I admit, I do have a weird perspective. I mean really, how many people do you personally know who has been able to make a living making things by hand and selling them for their entire adult life (40+ years so far)?  Any?  I’m not saying this to amaze or impress you.  Trust me, it’s not everyone’s gig-  THAT is for sure.  But the fact that it was even possible and at some points in history (all over the world) quite common, is interesting. The fact that it is in extreme decline is regrettable to me. I really don’t think that it is something that most people think about at all.

I think about it all the time.

hands

Why does this concern me?  I ask myself this question and it is not an easy answer.  I believe that a certain amount of distance from the norm is good for society in general. It can provide an example, a path to follow, or even inspiration.  It provides a balance of sorts. This kind of distance and independence allows for different thinking, different perspective and different choices.  Not to mention the benefits to many of working with your hands, of creating daily, of experimenting and problem solving, and for many-better mental and physical health.

I can only continue to be, to exist as I am.  All this outside the norms- whatever those are. It seems that that is really the best I can do at this point.  I am very fortunate to have a roof over my head.  Some sort of forethought allowed for that at least.  If I were to do this today, it would look very different I am sure (if I was able to do it at all). That is the point of this post in the end, I guess. It seems as if this choice is becoming so unavailable, so rare-a choice I once took for granted without even knowing what an extravagance it really was. I didn’t know because I just did it. One day at a time, every day-until it was my normal.

The rising cost of living in general seems to necessitate rushing to a job-the sort of job that can pay the bills and leaves little time for much else.  Once one has money coming in, there are the expectations of society, others and even ones self.  A car- a payment, a house-a payment, taxes-payments, health-payments, family-$, etc..  It is a cycle that once one arrives at, is very hard to disengage from.  Only if one can become very creative, frugal, and perhaps fortunate, can you craft a situation that allows distance from the norm. I see people all around me longing to disengage from the desk chair, the screens, the keyboards, the commutes.  Yet the lifestyle that has been created makes it difficult to do so.  The actions needed to disengage are overwhelmed by the changes needed to make this happen.   One is thought of as irresponsible (if not just plain crazy) for not fully engaging in this cycle.

All I can say at this point is find a way.  Just find a way. 
beautyI love Soetsu Yanagi‘s thoughts…

This exhibit is still up at he Mingei Museum in San Diego until Oct. 2nd. I’ve seen it three times now and loved it all three times.

34 thoughts on “wordy wondering…again

  1. jude

    although i have had some success, I realize, especially at my age that it would have been nearly impossible to support a secure lifestyle into my old age by just being a maker. I did study art but opted to style a creative career within the business world. In the end, although I longed to be out of the spin, I think it was probably the best solution for me. I look around and find most creative souls in a state of stress especially later in life. I wonder if it was ever any different except for a few special cases.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      Well, one does give up “security”- at least in the way that we are socialized to understand it. Perhaps one of my strengths is that I never felt secure even as a child so I wasn’t really missing it in many ways. I acclimated to that state of stress long ago. It’s just a natural state of being. I try to use it to my benefit where possible. I look at the craftspeople in Japan, though in decline even there, I admire them so much. It was very common there. “Style a creative career in the business world” -exactly. I did my share of that in my porcelain company-still making by hand but on a larger scale.You have to mix business in there somehow in order to make it work as you know. Having just attended a 40th class reunion I heard lots of retirement talk. Not a topic that I can relate to in my situation but I understand. I’d still not trade an absence of stress later in life for the life I choose but then again, I do have a roof over my head. At least for now! just gonna keep free-styling it (irresponsibly!).

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  2. Marie Stevens

    I love this post. Thank you” I am one of “those” people who still think I can make a living or at least, a little money, with my creativeness and my hands. I am an Heirloom sewing master. an avid quilter and I love to make my own clothes. At present I am in to “Boho” as I love colors.
    Trying to sell my creations however; is very difficult. Can anyone tell me how?
    Again thank you Shibori Girl.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      As to how…one at a time and every day. Such a process that requires persistence and lots of communication. I have seen such an evolution in how things are sold over the 40 years I have been at this. Those that have survived have adapted. Not all have been able to adapt. It’s hard!

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  3. Mo Crow

    Old Man Crow & I garden to pay the bills & rent so we can make the art & music unfettered to the vagaries of the style meisters, it’s a good life but we get by from day to day, week to week with no savings for the future, we plan on working til we die & yes it was much easier to make ends meet on very little in the 70’s… it would be very hard to be a bright young thing starting out now!

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      That is the best Mo! I often think the same thing when times get tough- what could/would I do? Gardening always comes to mind… good for the mind and body too. I raise my glass to you. As for the bright young things today that think they want to do this- that is what concerns me. So difficult. I had no student loans to pay! I lived in a co-op, a shared house, a small rental. I have bought one new car in my entire life- and I am still driving it 30 years later! No complaints about that- it seems the responsible thing to do not to mention practical.

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  4. silkydragon333

    I can only affirm all that you’ve posted, as one who’s spent the past 30 years walking away from academia and bureaucracy and decent regular paychecks to pursue color, texture and design. I know it’s not for everyone but I could have written your same words. Thanks Sharon

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  5. PortFiber .

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. As someone struggling to keep a fiber business going in Portland, Maine, I feel every bit of this. “Just find a way.”

    Thank you.

    Casey

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  6. twistedsisterweb

    I loved this post and agree with everything you mentioned. The only thing I would add is in addition to being so difficult to make a living, the rules today are totally nonsensical. In the past, when something wasn’t selling you reworked it or targeted another market etc. Today it is all about play stupid games to get found on the internet. The hours I waste liking, faving, pinning, following, hashtaging to no avail. It’s just exhausting and leaves so little time to do what I love which is making statement jewelry.

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  7. Karen

    You said it so well. It takes a lot to live for your craft and possibly forgo so many material things that everyone thinks you have to have, or your not normal. I gave up 60 hours a week of corporate management and a huge paycheck. I’m more fulfilled than ever. I do thank that career for providing the money that allows me to do this, but I had to live that a long time to have this.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      I do happen to believe that craft as a career is on the decline. Do you? I am not sure that an increase in interest in upcycling can resurrect that. But is that the same thing? wondering.

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      1. asiadyer

        Ithaca has always been different. It’s a haven. There are lots of people creating and lots buying, as well, which is the key.
        Life is not the same outside of Thompkin’s County, ESPECIALLY in upstate NY…..

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  8. Julie Pietras

    Wonderful post to make me think about the “making” and how can it be more of my life. Not just in the shadows of my life waiting until I come home from work to shine and be let out of its box. I am getting better…and it is all so worth it.

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  9. Lisa Hoesing

    I think all the easy stores supports the idea that people need to create and share/sell their product.  I love the many kinds of thins made by hand on Easy.Lisa

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  10. Robyn Ayaz

    It saddens me to agree with all you have said. The sad thing is that even though we may have a job which keeps us from creative practice, the wage we earn now buys us even less than it did before, prices of goods and services go up, the wages do not. Now that I am retired I am trying to make my art the focus of my life but all those years when I could not hang heavily. I worry for my daughter who desperately wants to focus on her art but just cannot live or make art without some income. Your own experience is an inspiration at least and we are all richer that you succeeded. The rest of us will try to find a way.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      no point in letting things hang heavy is there? I have two sons whom I have encouraged to live as I have and I do worry for them too. They have seen close up how it happens so maybe that can help-even more than their college education.

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  11. Michelle in NYC

    I’ve never made a living at what I’ve loved to do, neither in twenty years of Theater, another ten or fifteen in Film, video and photography, nor as a writer, nor painter, and I only dabbled in cloth. I could blame this on the fact that I somehow managed to eek out a living on the fringes doing this and that, or that I always worked for unpopular causes (feminism, peace, justice etc.), but the truth is I was simply never ambitious enough to pursue money, nor did I have the stick-to-it that’s needed, and now, at seventy three, I’m quite poor in the pocket book. Sometimes friends send gifts, my Social security and small pension from one 11 year position just manage to keep me in internet, phone, electric, and rent (blessedly low after many Landlord battles) and I even get some food aid from a Senior nutrition program. I’m able to go to doctors thanks to medicare basic, but not dentists. I had help to pay for two cataract operations from several generous friends as I live without credit cards. But my admiration for craft and those, like you who manage to somehow make it work is unbounded. The way the 21st Century is leaning into the automated and the digital, outsourcing and growth does look bleak…not to mention the awful political wrangling and the shameful wars…still, I believe that though the artists are as endangered as the polar bear and Minki whale, we persist in another dimension, and that’s as real as the space probes and the industrial glut. Love fuels the enterprise and it’s the best fuel ever to emerge from this earth enterprise.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      that sounds like a life well lived Michelle. your posts on Fb are always touching, raw, informative. I laughed at your description of feminism, peace, justice etc. as “unpopular causes”- some wars waged in the 60’s and 70’s seem to have lost some ground and others we continue to keep going. your obvious passion for the arts over decades is admirable whether or not it provided a complete financial living or not it provided a balance, a mental stability, and exposure to that which is outside the norm. you touch on a point though that is very true- the stick-to-it-ivness or perseverance that is required is key! very hard to dabble in this or that and make it work. it has only worked for me in part because i went into it for the long haul. 30+ years in clay, changing “majors” and now 10+ years in silk and dyeing. it’s a continual evolution and who knows what is next? social security is not really secure as we know, i will one day get to where you are sans the pension, but without the rent or mortgage payment to keep a roof over my head. hopefully, my two hands and eyes will hold out enough to keep stirring the dyepot and chanting the needle for the extra coin that will be needed for the realm. xo…

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  12. joannefdesmond

    Dear Shibori Girl, Your post touched my heart deeply. It brought me to tears as I read it. The resonance was astounding and the timing so appropriate. You spoke eloquent words for all of us who do not fit into the conventional art world or with the world at-large. Appreciatively, Joanne

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  13. Suzanne Connors

    So wonderful to hear your words, I agree with everything you said! I often feel like an outsider in the game of life. I had the “dream-job” but hated the 9-5 imprisonment. It is hard work doing this and living this lifestyle, but I would have it no other way. I am part of an artists enclave of sorts with several working artist studios. Most are hard working and show up everyday; others come and go and do not realize that this requires hard work and commitment to sustain. the ones who show up are making it, the ones who come and go complain how it is not working for them. You have to show up and commit! I love going to my studio and meeting people with shared love for fiber and art. Teaching helps to sustain this life I have chosen to live. Thankful and Blessed is all I can say!

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      perhaps it looks easy to some from the outside- after all-it’s a “dream job” right? just as easy as becoming a scientist, a doctor, or a researcher of solutions to world problems…not! all are difficult, take years and lots of perseverance. the ones who “make it” keep wondering, tweaking, adapting to make it work. and even then…
      If I had a dime (inflation you know) for every person who has said to me “I opened an Etsy shop and I just didn’t get the sales. Etsy is the problem. I’m changing to ______(fill in the blank). ”

      there is no one solution. and it doesn’t happen quickly either. lots of folks want quick.

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  14. asiadyer

    i love this. I will renew the fight. Everyday, i renew the struggle.

    Traveling makes one see things differently, different perspective, the way it all seems to rush by, like a wash of humanity, as you make your way across space……..interesting how it definitely ties back in with what is at the center, the core of your being, sort of pulls you back to your self.

    Could it be that traveling is one sort of centering? I guess…depending on where you are to begin with, where you end up. : ) sometimes……

    hahahaha Sorry, you’re wondering got me all a’wondering…….

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      renewing the struggle-yes. we all can do that. start small. don’t think too big. traveling is always good i think. connecting with people that are living different realities than yourself. this is even possible if traveling is not in your budget. it still centers you and gives perspective.

      have a great trip!

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