Life as a working artist. Part 7, Getting more businesslike

I’ve spent the last year taking giant steps towards being a self-supporting artist and artisan.

I have always made stuff – for myself and others. Sometimes people bought it. 
That was cool, but always seemed accidental, awkward, surprising even! and the transaction was clumsy.
This year I’ve made a number of large original quilts under commission and a range of smaller quilts for sale as designer decor items.
I’ve also made small works for exhibition and was delighted when one was purchased through the gallery.
I’m enjoying the change in my ability to be comfortable with valuing my wirk in this way
Getting more organised
Learning

It’s good to be a farmer

  

…that’s what it seemed like today anyway. We went to  National Fieldays at the notoriously chilly Mystery Creek.

Yes, there was an icy shower during the 3rd heat of the Weight Transfer section of the Tractor Pull. But there was also:

  • a lot of sunshine and optimisim – nobody whined about the payout 
  • A new pair of red-bands for me (shoes! Everywhere!)
  • Lots of flirtation with leathery old farmers while The Huz looked at sheds.

Farming is great. Think about it seriously for your next career change! 

Tools are cool

I love to use the right tool for the job. I love tools that are well-made and support me in my making. Here are three of my favourites:

 A “butcher’s knife” by Mr John Russell who took great care in helping me select exactly the right one. It has transformed my culinary practice. You can get your own effortless slice of his action at the Coatesville Market

  A thimble! I could never use one until Debby Williams’ hand-quilting class. Debby taught me how to select a thimble to fit and use it comfortably. She also kindly gifted this one, still my favourite.

My Singer Featherweight sewing machine (stop looking at the kitten! That’s Tiny #Catmate, I’ll tell you about her another day)

Miss Feathers is a delight: compact, sturdy, portable and sews the most perfect straight stitch.

What are your favourite tools?

Felting lesson

  I had a go at felting again last weekend. Fun, made a cute handbag. Probably not going to make another.

No fault of the tutor’s- he was excellent: skillful, supportive, extremely well organised. 

I simply don’t particularly want to make/have/give/sell many objects made with that process, which although fascinating and versatile is a little too hard on the skin for my liking.

Why did I do it then? 

  • To test my original impressions
  • To have a refresher/reminder
  • To spend a day learning outside my current focus area
  • To observe another artist/craftsperson teaching

Alhough I don’t think I’ll “be a felter” i did have a rather delicious idea about how felting might work with another material I’ve been collecting…

Who is the potter?

It certainly isn’t me. 

Ceramic arts have been whirling in and out of my attention as long as i can remember. School holiday classes at 13yo taught me a lot about clay. Mostly that the wheel is not for me!

Around the same time my Granny gave me a gorgeous little copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which gave me the first thrill of recognising a poetic metaphor with the Potter as Creator.

Much later I met that work again through the eyes of Abdullah Dugan, which supplies the title of this post, but that’s a tale for a different day.

Anyhoo, potting has always seemed to be the most magical of the Arts of Craft. The intersection of materials and maker and the incredible energies of transformation and potential destruction. 

While I’ve always admired the work of Barry Brickell, potter, engineer and conservationist extraordinaire, he’s recently become a guide to my own craft/art practice. His commentary on art commentary is my current fascination, e.g.

“To explain the work would be pointless. The work is its own form of communication.”

This is a real challenge to this over-explainer! so of course I must stop writing and go Make.

I prefer to change my own tyre

  I like to be able to do stuff. If you can change your own tyre, you aren’t waiting around for someone else to do it for you.

The more you can do…the more you can do. So I like to learn all sorts of odd off-beat things, building my competence, preparedness, strength, and resilience. You never know what bits will fit together to solve a problem or create a new possibility.

Learning from a person is a great way to build a relationship with them, and to appreciate their wider mastery.  

It takes a few goes sometimes. My bread is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons…but I think I know where to find a master who will give me a demo. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m perfectly capable of changing my own tyre – without wrecking my manicure – if I can get the wheelnuts undone. So, I build in some resilience with an AA membership – the most recent mechanic who met me at the roadside taught me a Protip for the too-tight wheelnut problem too šŸ˜Š