Tuesday, 15 February 2011

For what it's worth

I had this article in my head for ages, ever since I was in Laurieston Hall in September...

But time flies and I still haven't written it. In fact, I've written so very little these days, that I can probably count myself lucky that I managed to scribble some New Years Resolutions in my diary which scarily sounded like the ones from previous years - something about not procrastinating so much, being more organised, finally learning better time management and getting fitter. At least I scrapped the 'growing up' and 'being realistic & sensible' ones, because these in my view are only other names for 'functioning in somebody else's world'. Finally caught on to that one...

My own handspun yarn in 'sea colours'

So, what did I want to write about.. Oh yes, the worth of one's work. Let's take you back to a few late summer days in Laurieston Hall, a community in Scotland. I don't think I ever turn into a community or communal type, but I was impressed. Not just by the fabulous vegetarian food (which even thrilled the palate of a big baconface like me!), but by the way the community was run. They were so organised that the German in me was thrilled!

However, it wasn't in that horrible stick wielding kind of way many organisations operate, but in a much more meaningful way. People knew that they counted, and that their work counted. You were organised because you knew other people relied on you and your work, not because some mean boss would give you grief. I was on tidying up duty on two evenings of my stay and was amazed how easily I fitted into the routine (I even liked tidying!!!), but at the same time also knew that if I wasn't moving my butt, the stuff didn't get done - my input was needed, even if only for the two evenings I was on duty.

Another example, we spend an afternoon plaiting onions. Yes, plaiting onions! I've actually did write something about it at the time, and you can read it on the Etsy Ireland Team blog.

Onion plaiting was great fun, but also necessary work so that the onions could be properly stored for the winter. Again, your work counted - you were connected to the work and did it well because you knew it was necessary, rather than being bored, thinking of other things you could rather be doing, and feeling that you just couldn't be arsed. No cog in the wheel there.

And that's why I love crafts so much. Not only because I have to express my creativity somehow or else turn into a grumpy and foul-mooded individual who slurps coffee to stay awake, but also because you get a great sense of purpose and worth out of your work. You are connected to what you are doing and while you are doing it, it's important that you keep doing it, that you finish your creative work, because there is nobody else there to do it for you. You totally bring yourself into that process.

And if you sell it or give it to somebody as a gift, you have a feeling that this counts for somebody - that the ideas and hours you put into that piece has worth.

So when I sometimes want to give up running a small craft business, because I feel that I am not getting anywhere, I make no money from this and nobody gives a f... arthing for my work, I have to remind myself that it is worth something - and not just to myself. In a world where everything is mass produced and doesn't have much worth, crafts do, because they have meaning. We might have to convince more people of its worth, but it is worth...a lot.

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