Maker by Nature
Updated: Dec 24, 2019
There was once a british tv show called Red Dwarf. It was crazy sci-fi set 3 million years in the future. One of the main characters had a toaster with artificial intelligence.
LISTER: "No. Shhh. I'm busy." TOASTER: "Not busy eating toast though are you?" LISTER: "I don't want any." TOASTER: "The whole purpose of my existence is meaningless if you don't want toast." LISTER: "Good." TOASTER: "I toast, therefore I am."
TOASTER: Why are you always asking him? I'll do it.
LISTER: You're a toaster.
TOASTER: Yeah, I was thinking of packing it in. It's turning me into
something I don't like. I'm not a moaner by nature, you know.
LISTER: No, by nature you're a toaster.
By nature, I am a maker. I am happiest when I am making things. I tried out making things in loads of mediums. I can draw decently, but I am not master. I have little to no painting skills. I am terrible at blending my colors to get anything that doesn't look like it was painted by a grade schooler. I love colored pencils, because I love color, but I mostly use them to color geologic maps. I learned basic carpentry, but it really lost its charm when I was not allowed to use the tools and do anything significant, because someone said I might break them. I can make halfway decent pots, but the process is too slow. Pottery is too much hurry up and wait. I love glaze chemistry though. I loved silver smithing, but at the time I didn't have a good dedicated work shop of my own, and it is a really expensive art form.
I learned to sew at a young age. It was always there. Mostly as a kid, I did a lot of both hand sewing and machine sewing. A large portion of it was, “hey, I need x, here is some fabric, let’s do this.” There was also a significant bit of, “I am bored out of my mind what happens if I do this.” As an adult, I fell into sewing and knitting at a time when I needed an outlet to be creative.
Every project we do as artists and makers is partly for the process of making something, and partly for the final product. It is a continuum between these two end members. Rarely do we just sew things together without having a final idea in mind. At the same time, rarely do we have such tunnel vision that we can't enjoy the process as we get to the final product.
I can knit obsessively because there is a calm, quiet, rhythm and comfort of the motions and the yarn flowing through my hands. I can chain, piece, and press a thousand half square triangles, because there is mediation and peace in the hum of the machine. There is always a need for a calming and soothing activity to help shed the stress of life. The process becomes a meditation. The mediation from the process is why we do it.
And then there is this idea for a quilt that comes into your mind fully formed as you are staring at the coffee pot half asleep mentally screaming at the coffee pot to brew faster. Or you are sitting in church and the lady in front of you has this amazing sweater on and you have to make it. These projects become more about the finished product than the process.
Every project falls somewhere in this spectrum. I am more of a product quilter. I have a vision that I want to see made, from a basic pieced bed quilt to a year-long art quilt project. It is always I have this idea, now let’s do it. Occasionally, I will make a quilt because I want to try out a process. But overall this is 90% of my problem with improvisational quilting; I can't picture the final project and it makes me uncomfortable with the process.
On the other hand, I am a process knitter. I knit to keep my hands busy because it opens up my mind by taking away the constant energy and need for movement. There have been times when I want the final project way more than I want the process of knitting. I don't just knit for the sake of knitting. When I have knitted for the sake of it, I usually end up ripping it out. I usually have a pattern or an idea I want to make. But it is all about the rhythm and mediation that comes from the repetition.
In the end, I will leave you with some more Talkie Toaster.
There was once a british tv show called Red Dwarf. It was crazy sci-fi set 3 million years in the future. One of the main characters had a toaster with artificial intelligence. TOASTER: Why are you always asking him? I'll do it.LISTER: You're a toaster.TOASTER: Yeah, I was thinking of packing it in. It's turning me intosomething I don't like. I'm not a moaner by nature, you know.LISTER: No, by nature you're a toaster.