Saturday, November 2, 2019

A Serious Child

This photo remains to this day my favourite one of my father, brother and me.

Dad hated to have his photo taken, and so do I.  This photo, captured by a street photographer - likely on Granville Street in Vancouver in June 1959 (a month before my 9th birthday) encapsulates the personalities of the three of us.

My father, quiet, introvert, never one to push himself forward, most definitely NOT wanting to take the ticket from the photographer.  But mom always took them and bought the photos so I insisted he at least take the ticket and give it to her.  Mom being mom immediately went to the place you could buy them and loved the fact that she had this photo of the three of us together.

My brother who noticed the photographer, full of joy and mischief.  Me, gazing off into the unknown, also quiet, introvert, not liking having my photo taken.

Doing the 'last' of the shows, there has been plenty of time for reflection, introspection, remembering.  Forty years is a long time to do anything.  Well, actually more than forty years - the decision to become a professional/production weaver was made in 1975.  It just took a while to learn the craft, then get enough inventory made at a good enough standard to sell.  So my first craft fair was 1979.

Talking to another exhibitor this morning, he asked how long I'd been doing 'this'.  When I said forty years, his jaw dropped.  "That's a long time!"   Yes, young sir, it is.

As I reflect on my life I see how the threads (ahem) of my lived experience, even as a child, led me to this place at this moment in time.

I see how my curiosity, my mechanical aptitude, proprioception, creativity, love of textiles instilled from a very young age, in no small part because of my mother's and aunts involvement in creating them, all managed to weave themselves into who I am.  Who I have become.

Once I found my passion, my intellectual understanding of how threads came together to become cloth, plus a desire to share what I was learning, my ability to write reasonably well, came together to bestir me to begin teaching.  Then writing.  Then publishing articles/books/this blog.

Doing 'this' has been hard work.  If I wasn't also willing and able to do that hard work, nothing much would have come of any of it.  Dealing with rejection is also a slice of the pie that is me.  Because even if someone isn't meaning to be 'mean', they can be willing to explain why your work isn't acceptable to them.  I had to quickly untangle their comments into something that reflected on them, rather than me or my work.  Because it is always about the 'me' in the giving and taking of such comments.

I will be frank - therapy helped.  I am empathetic and will take on the emotions and problems of other people to help them, make them feel better.  Therapy helped me understand how to snip that obligation and leave the person with their problem to solve (can't afford my textiles?  Not my problem to solve!)

So a serious child grew into a serious adult.  I took my craft, my profession seriously.  I worked hard.  I moved heaven and earth to make deadline.  Sometimes I just couldn't, but I tried.  And when I couldn't I learned to notify people to let them know.  They may not have liked what they heard, but I had been honest.

Like the day I got rear ended, having just beamed 100 yards of warp for the fashion designer I wove for.  I told her that I would keep going the best I could but at the time 20 minutes was the most I could manage before needing to take a long break to let the pain go back down.  She was then able to gear her other weavers up, adjust her production schedule, and I continued - all through my recovery - to weave and ship fabric just as quickly as I could.

While I try very hard to not take myself seriously, I do take my obligations very seriously.

Without being that serious child/woman, I very much doubt I could have continued for this long in what is a very insecure profession.  Never knowing from year to year if anyone would buy what I made, book me to teach, invest in first Magic in the Water, then The Intentional Weaver - plus magazine articles, smaller 'monographs'.

Yes, I have had fun.  But I have also worked hard.

And now I am seriously ready to rest.  


Peg Cherre said...

You have SO earned that rest. As have all of us, women of a certain age brought up with that nose-to-the-grindstone, Protestant-work-ethic, no-one-ever-said-life-was-fair era. Doesn’t matter if we worked outside the home or in it, if we had paying jobs or were the professional volunteers. We deserve a rest. We deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labors while we are well enough to do so. To stop and smell the roses, drink our morning coffee without pressure, and read books. Lots of books. After all, it takes more time and effort each year just to keep these aging bodies of ours moving. Well done, indeed, Laura!

Laura Fry said...

It is the relentless 'failing' of this body that has finally gotten to me. Yesterday I chatted with another artisan who expressed dismay at the fact that he was finding the new young artisans so very young. I told him to own his age, his experience and embrace being a mentor. This is the path I have chosen for myself. I think it's a good one.