Culture of Lack

My husband Robert and I have worked together in Honduras and Panama. One of the things that impressed us was the resourcefulness of the people in recycling goods. There was very little trash. They used up everything they had. Picked up used nails. Wove baskets from weeds, stitched clothing from scraps. We could not help but think of all that our culture of abundance throws away.

My mother was born in 1915. May father in 1912. Depression era mentality. Culture of lack. My father never threw away anything. My mother used to melt together the leftover small slivers of soap. I have stories.

Today I completed a hand-stitched quilt made of throw-a-way fabric. Small pieces of linen leftover from garments I have sewn. Small lengths of embroidery threads. A small piece of loosely-woven multi-color cotton homespun-type fabric I’ve been hoarding for a long time.

quilt1

front – embroidery and hand stitching

quilt2

back – We are all made of stars

 

 

I have a difficult time throwing away small scraps of fabric. Among other things.

What do you have a difficult time throwing away?

I found this interesting …. how needles and pins are made.

Brain Pickings | An inventory of the meaningful life.

via Brain Pickings | An inventory of the meaningful life..

[I hope you enjoy these as much as I did – I love these “9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings” – I believe these are essential for the creative life – Emma]
1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right – even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.

2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night – and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.

3. Be generous. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.

4. Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.

Most importantly, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?

5. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.

6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living – for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that – a myth – as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.

And here are the two new additions:

8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit – it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.

9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture – which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands – give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” – a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial – in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.


… so from me – What are YOUR learnings from life so far?

Holding Sparklers & Bottle Rockets?

Those of us who are creatives often feel as if there are fireworks going off in our heads. In a good way. Most of the time. I am happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas – and when I’m looking at options for a make – will this embroidered quilt square work with this color fabric? Will this hippo softie be cute made from this print? What type classes will I offer two women from Chicago who want a creative couple of days in The Big Easy?
Planning is not my strongest skill but it is becoming one of my most necessary. That’s when I use those “fireworks” to my advantage. Either by hand or on my laptop, I jot down all those thoughts (well, perhaps not ALL) that shoot out from those synapses and opposing sides of my brain. Of course these words and shorthand descriptions make no sense to anyone else, but to me it is likened to catching fireflies and putting them in a jar to be let loose after I’ve gathered them all together.
Only after I’ve gathered the fireflies can I proceed to a creative process of making something on my TO DO list, otherwise the lights may go out and the ideas may not make it back across the brain screen.
How do you “gather your fireflies” (or fireworks!)?

Meet Our Staff

Mollie

Mollie Wartelle

Can you believe we have been here for over six months? Time has flown by! Now that we are growing up a little, and we’ve hired 2 wonderful makers to help us part-time, I wanted to take time to introduce them to you. I asked them both the same 5 questions. We are fortunate to have them spend some time with us, and we hope you find Mollie and Abi as entertaining and talented as we do.
First up is Mollie Wartelle:  
What would you like for us to know about you? I’m an artist, reader, traveller, nature lover. One day I want to be an archivist or a curator–maybe of textiles or old films. I have six houseplants. I’m obsessed with my dog; I wish I could take her everywhere I go.
What are your favorite creative things to do? Weaving, crocheting, pottery, paper-making, dyeing. Anything messy and kind of free form. I like natural and recycled materials: wool roving, clay, scrap paper, vegetable dyes.
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? The variety of people that come in and their projects. I love helping people find the right material for a project! There’s also something really special about working in such a brightly colored, multi-textured place. When I get home, I’m still inspired by the patterns and colors in the shop.
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I have four pairs of clogs in various heel heights. I think there’s a secret clog cult, because I always end up having a lot in common with other people who wear them.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? Contribute to a community of creatives. Exchange skills and ideas with others. Empower children and adults to create more freely. Learn the names of lots of obscure fabrics and colors.

Abigail Wilson

Abigail Wilson

Next, meet Abigail Wynn Wilson
What would you like for us to know about you?  I started sewing in high school Home Economics and totally fell in love. I took every class they offered, all on quilting, then Independent Study and assistant teaching. I just couldn’t get enough!  I bought my own sewing machine my first year of college and immediately began sewing clothes, trial and error style. I’m the queen of seam ripping, especially when I learned I could take apart old clothes to use as patterns and/or “upcycled fabric.” I also became an avid thrift shopper, altering too-big, too-torn and too-ugly into totally new clothes! I started to fix items from thrift stores for other students: my seamstress business was born! It’s a joy for me to help people develop their style by making their clothes fit just right, plus I love that people come to me with style ideas and inspiration that I can help make reality! Clothes are so important to me because it’s our second skin, it creates confidence and helps us express our personalities, but there’s no reason to break the bank for a great outfit!
What are your favorite creative things to do?  Sewing is my first love, but I also like to write stories and poems. I often cut up magazines to make mood boards and colorful collages; it’s the best crafty therapy because you actually can’t make mistakes pasting paper, plus I always have happy ah-ha moments when I mentally let go and just make, in creativity and in life!
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? I absolutely adore the funky-fabulous dolls that Mollie and Jennifer create, they are so unique and uplifting! I’m also in love with our fabric selection. I’ve been to so many fabric stores in my life and I’ve never seen such an impressive selection of playful patterns and bold prints. It’s a potential project wonderland in here!
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I moved to New Orleans.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? I want to sew sweet things with all the fabulous fabric! I’ve always wanted to learn to knit! Right now I’m imagining some fun new projects like slip on slippers and zipper bags that could become fun beginner classes! I just want to encourage New Orleans to get crafty and creative; expand your individual style with your own two hands (and a sewing machine!). Just being inside Uptown Needle & CraftWorks fills me with excited, creative energy; there is no limit to what kind of wonderful things can come from that!
***
Come see us! Peace Be,
Emma

Artist Talk, Antieau2

Getting Lost in the Process: Reclaiming the Freedom to Create

Today I am sharing words from Jonathan Fields from The Good Life Project. I follow the podcast from GLP, and listen to these video essays while I paint or clean or sort or create. Many of these makers say words I want to say to you about why I quit my job and started a new “maker life” in New Orleans. One of my top priorities in opening Uptown Needle & CraftWorks is to share the joy of creating things, and to encourage others to use their hands because, as Fields says, working with your hands “just plain does something to you.”
Whether you write or sew or paint or garden, the mere activity of using your hands connects to your Creator, which reconnects you to your inner maker source.

IMG_0931“When you watch kids create something, it’s like watching an artist who is given complete permission to explore, experiment, and express. There’s no sense of censorship or fear of judgment…at least not until we’re a bit older. Working with your hands just plain does something to you. It drops you into a place of pure creativity and consciousness. You become the process, you get lost in it. And that sensation is pure bliss. But, as we get older, we tend to go to that place less and less. We leave our artist maker side behind. And, in doing so, leave a part of us behind as well.” – Jonathan Fields

It’s time to reclaim the freedom to create, and find your “inner maker”. This is not a sales piece. This is an invitation. Yes, I’d love for you to sign up for a class; however, I’d love more for you to just stop by for conversation. Sit on our deck for a time and think about what you are called to do in life. Look through our shop and see if anything is calling your name. Try something new. Come play with us!

More than anything else, what do you love to do?