Tag Archives: society

At the intersection of craft and sanity

Who am I? I’m just going to say this here in the beginning. This post won’t be for everyone here. It’s not really about art, craft, or shibori, per se, but it touches on it and really is about balance, mental health, creativity, and life in general.

Maybe it is for everyone, come to think of it. But if you are here just for the shibori, then feel free to click away- I take no offense. Yes, this is already starting out as a weird post don’t you think?

This is a post I’ve often thought about writing over the years and actually it has been touched upon here and there. I might describe it as the intersection of craft and sanity.

Once upon a time there was a little red-headed child. Life was confusing. It was apparent from an early time to this child that she was pretty much on her own in many ways and needed a way to be balanced and stay sane. It was an intuitive thought, not verbally or even mentally articulated, but it was more a feeling of survival. As time passed, the child was more and more stressed due to issues within the family. Stress did not feel good. The child discovered that creating felt good! The child’s intuitive self awakened to this and made creating a way of life, not really knowing all this on an intellectual level, but only in an instinctual sort of way.
Stress=feeling bad, creating=feeling good.
So the child learned to spend more time in that creativity space. This way, life was livable!

Now I am not suggesting that in order to be creative, one must have anxiety, stress, and even PTSD in your life. I would never wish that upon ANY person, and especially not a child. But we do not live perfect lives and many children experience these issues on a regular basis due to many things (even in the most seemingly “normal” life), which is why it completely exhausts me to know that many kids do not get the space they need to counteract these life problems by having time for creativity.
Creativity can be in many forms- making by hand, singing, dancing performing, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, (even cleaning the house!) and so forth.

This little redheaded child grew up and had her own children. Seeing the dearth of art and making in their school day, the redheaded mom created a space for that. Here’s an old blog for that here. There are only 55 posts published there. I’ve often thought I should delete it, but for some reason I keep putting it off. I just reread much of it and still feel pretty much the same about what I wrote there. It’s interesting to look back and read your thoughts from 15 years ago. Prior to starting that blog as a separate entity, I was writing posts about it here on Shibori Girl. It was fairly short-lived though, as we got the ax a couple of years later. (Most of the sidebar links are dead.) I did enjoy going back and reading the comments there. Special thanks to those commenters who read and participated-many whom are still readers today! (love you guys!)

This is not limited to children by the way. I only give the above example because people often tell me things like, ” you’re so talented!”, or “I could never do that”. My inner child-self knows they are coming from a different perspective and I usually say something like “well, it’s a practice” and ” really, I think you could!” (or just “thank you”). But the inner adult-self knows that for me this came as a result of an anxiety filled life where the child learned that living in that creative space was like medicine. It was also an escape where she could lose herself, feel better, and eventually it became a practice. It became a place where I made a home and just moved in.

I have seen this in many readers here, in people I meet at workshops or at shows. I hear stories from you. I saw it in the kids from the Elementary Art experience.

What is my motivation for writing this post? I wonder myself. I guess I want to remind ourselves that we can alleviate the stress in our lives with creativity. It’s positive! There are so many ways to be creative. It’s low cost! Many public schools have cut and altered art experiences and in doing so, cut off a vehicle for better mental health and well being for kids. Not good. Kids grow into adults. Our society needs every possible tool and material in the artbox to create good mental health in our schools and in our society. I’m also motivated to “pay it forward” as it were, since I personally had a situation which allowed this possibility to exist. Many do not.

Creativity leads to wondering, wondering can identify issues and problems and lead to solutions. Thusly, the algebraic equation is something like:

Creativity + Wonder = Solutions

We can see the results of the loss of factory production in the US. The loss of jobs where people produced things with their hands has left many jobless or in jobs that don’t give this sort of satisfaction and stimulation. Working with your hands stimulates chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that make you feel good. There are many studies about how working and creating with your hands benefits your overall health-both body and mind. You can be young or old for this to work. You don’t have to make it your career, you can practice it to the degree in which you choose. Like medicine, not everyone takes the same prescription or dosage.

These past couple of years have brought us new worries and stresses. We grieve the losses in our lives. There are new divisions. The recent stirrings of war…

It’s the perfect time to create and work with your hands. It can calm the mind, teach new skills, and point in new directions.

I’m going to just leave it at this for now. Isn’t it enough? And yes, I’m celebrating circles having completed another trip around the sun (or 834 moon trips around the planet if you’re keeping track…). So perhaps all this meandering is just part of that….

amazing to think that Paul MaCartney wrote this when he was 15 or 16!

No pictures, just thoughts this time…next post it’s back to “regular programming”, whatever that is!



I like numbers

I always have. Numbers help me figure things out.

numbers, my pretties, numbers

(new in the shop) 

They help me make better decisions when I might be tempted to do something out of sheer emotion or desire (there is a time and place for that as well). Numbers are handy when measuring dye and silk or clay and glaze materials. Numbers help me be more efficient. Some of these things can be downright destructive if I weren’t paying attention to the numbers. The whole world is based on numbers. Business, governments, science, music and even art and nature can be looked at through a number filtered lens.

Daily, we have occasion to confront some pretty disturbing numbers. There are so many of those these days that I could drive myself crazy with them.  Most recently in the news JPMorgan  “mishandled” some numbers. Here, Candida Abraham says the numbers don’t lie when it comes to servicing the needs of the mentally ill in our society. The numbers Abraham speaks of have some pretty dire consequences if we don’t pay attention to them.

The numbers in my own small world are really tiny compared to such things. But, like most of us, I have to pay attention to them or the bills won’t get paid next month.  So in addition to being visually and technically creative I need to engage the other side of my brain and pay attention to the NUMBERS!  This post is just a little reminder to myself that one day, a year or so ago, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and allowed myself to agree to something I shouldn’t have.  At least not if I had been paying attention to the numbers.  I am actually pretty good at the numbers thing which is why I’m still around, independently creating daily for over 35 years.  But not that day.  I share it here so others may learn from my mistakes if you have any notion of making an honest living -of making.

This situation involves a teaching gig. I was honored to be asked and should have left it at that. Said thank you and made an excuse or some such thing. There had been something about it- like a little voice that said no,don’t-but I went against the instinct and signed the contract. Silly me.

I won’t go into all the details but as I later looked over all the n u m b e r s  I was less than happy. Not only did I feel that I had been misled in regards to scheduling and my ability to take a booth on the vendor floor I felt that the n u m b e r s  took financial advantage of my teaching in great favor of the organization who’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. Hmmm.

So here are the numbers. See for yourself how it feels to you.

Class #1 (3 hour class)

35 person max. capacity for a fee of $75 per person-that’s a total of $2625 for a sold out class

My pay for the 3 hour class-$210 flat rate. (that’s $6 per student)

Now if my class doesn’t sell out, I still get paid the same.  Not very smart on their part if you ask me (they didn’t).

Class #2 (6 hour class)

24 person max. capacity for a class fee of $150 per person-that’s a total of $3600 for a sold out class

My pay for the 6 hour class-$425 if the class has a minimum of 12 people. If not, then I get paid $35 per student. (otherwise for a full class I am being paid $17.71 per student on a $150 class fee paid by the student) I think I’d be happier to take $385 for a class of 11 rather than $425 for a class of 24! Again, not a very smart move on their part.

Numbers people, numbers.

Now mind you, this is all in addition to fees that all students pay to even attend the convention itself- which runs about $200 each not including any hotel or travel.

This whole scenario created a situation for me that made me ask why would I even promote my own event? When their scheduling of my classes ended up being during prime vendor market time, I had to decline taking and paying for a booth where I might have been able to make up some of that. Feeling that I was “chosen” since I was a local to the event and they would not pay any travel expenses as with many of the other teachers,  didn’t help matters.

And as if that weren’t enough- the contract states that I am not allowed to teach the class (in this case shibori and ribbonwork-the only two things I do teach) for 7 MONTHS (6 months prior and  one month post) within the CONTINENTAL NORTH AMERICA.  SERIOUSLY?? Get a grip.

I really doubt that folks who take classes have any idea about these things.  I think they’d be surprised.

So, to sum it up- choose your events WISELY unless you are NOT in this to make a living. Not everyone is. But if you are, make sure that each event makes financial sense and pay attention to the numbers and the details. Each event should stand on it’s own merit and produce a profit.  And certainly not prevent you from making a living in your own field.

If you are a 501C3-then it’s a different story. For an organization that took in over $1,000,000 in 2010 (according to Guidestar) they give a whopping $4000 out in annual educational grants according to their website. They do a bit more when you include grants for students to attend the biannual conference($11,000-ish altogether). Many folks work as unpaid volunteers but with one exec salary at almost $100,000, additional employee compensation at $117,000 and travel expenses for the organization at over $62,000 (2010) among other things, the $4000 seems rather paltry when it’s stated purpose is to inspire creativity and encourage excellence in the fiber arts. This sort of thing starts making me, the lowly teacher/vendor feel a little like a stepchild-no nostalgia for that one. After looking at their tax returns available online, I realized I am not interested in  partnering with these sorts of organizations. Although they offer some benefits, often 501C3’s are organized around benefiting few rather than many.

I once attended a local Arts Council  roundtable where one of the discussion table talks encouraged artists to form  non profit corporations so that wealthy patrons, uncles and relatives could give them money and get tax write offs!  I kid you not. Tax-free trust-fund-ism. And in times where tax dollars are in short supply-all endorsed by the Arts Council.
No talk about how to run a successful and profitable business. Very disappointing.

Fortunately,the Long Beach Quilt Festival is just around the corner (July 26 at 5:00pm until July 29 at 4:00pm) where I will have a booth with all kinds of silk shibori and indigo. I won’t be teaching since it falls in the no-no zone but I will be demonstrating for free so come on by!

Here are the relevant NUMBERS-

Long Beach Quilt Festival 2012

July 27-29, 2012
Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California

Hours:
July 26: 5-9 p.m. (Preview Night)
July 27 & 28: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
July 29: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Ticket prices:
$10 daily adult
$8 seniors & students
Children 10 and under free.
$10 Preview Night (includes one free additional day)
$25 Full Show Pass (includes Preview Night)