Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…(remember that song?)
Every artisan started somewhere. Think back. No, go all the way back. There’s where the spark is, and in this season of studio tours and other opportunities to demonstrate our craft, it’s a great time to go all the way back. Every November I have the chance to demonstrate at my spinning wheel and tell people about the process from raising sheep and shearing to washing, carding and spinning. I love that fiber has history and is not strictly a ‘hobby’. I’m passionate about demonstrating, because it does take me all the way back.
When I was about 9 years old I went with my Girl Scout Troop on a trip to Annapolis, Md, close to where I was raised. I remember only one thing about that trip. A woman, dressed in a long skirt and spinning at a traditional looking spinning wheel. She showed me her wool and how it became yarn in her skilled fingers. I thought she was magical. And it was her volunteering of her time to demonstrate to a gaggle of little girls a passion that she had for natural fiber. She had no idea that her willingness and patient instruction planted a tiny little seed in a wiggly little girl that blossomed into a story for the little girl’s life. The day that I got my first spinning wheel and then my first 3 sheep, that lady was in my mind.
Those of us in the ‘business’ of craft can get caught up in production deadlines and product development and sometimes feel like adding one more thing to the schedule would be a disaster. And I’ll admit that when I’m packing up to go to a demonstration, I’m often thinking about all the ‘things’ that need doing and knowing that I’m the only one that can do them. But it isn’t long before my wheel is set up and a woman will come to watch while lagging behind her is a bored child. And suddenly, the little boy or girl becomes engaged and enchanted as you demonstrate your first craft love to them. Someday, one of these kids will remember what you showed them. They’ll remember that you volunteered your time and that you clearly loved what you were doing. The instant gratification side of you will benefit too. When you take the time for yourself to re-engage with the basics of your craft and share it, the work waiting at the studio seems lighter and back in perspective. Enjoy celebrating and sharing your craft this season!
Karyn Anne Belknap
Ten Good Sheep
ACV Professional Juried Artisan