Saturday, March 10, 2007

Disposable World

I worked part of the day in my sewing room, mainly doing small repairs and ironing. I've felt the need to do something with my hands lately, build something as opposed to just writing or working, but I couldn't do anything until I caught up with the ironing which was piled on the sewing table and dealt with the repairs piled on the machine.

I finally put together a document room at work yesterday. It felt just like my old days in visual merchandising, moving shelves, unpacking boxes, rearranging as new things emerged. One of the things I really liked about Visual was the sense of having really DONE something at the end of the day, something you could point to and say, "That's what I did today," as opposed to administrative or HR work where one sometimes feels as though all one is doing is shuffling paper and sitting on the phone. I'm not really selling the insurance I'm just making sure the paperwork goes through. There were many things I hated about Visual (the aching back and sore feet being two) but I do miss the accomplishment. Building a set was always more immediately satisfying than acting for that same reason. Something solid.

The flip side of this is the accumulation of things. My sewing room is full of projects I've finished that have no other home. Sometimes I get an idea and I build it just to see if it works. I learned to quilt for that reason, but I'm not a quilt person so I don't know what to do with the things I've made. Like I once decided to papier-mache bottles and paint them like this:
I don't really have room to put them about and they're not all to my taste, they were just what the bottles needed to be. I'd love to sell them in shops, but the selling of things is a job unto itself and I don't know if I like them well enough to commit to making lots of them. Now that I have very nearly decided to give up theater all together I wonder if I should return to trying to sell crafts, but again, it starts to seem like less of a good idea the more I think about it. I've sold hats in a few stores, but not enough to justify the time. I'm now trying to sell or give away my overstock just to get it out of my house. My mother and I sold miniatures when I was in my teens and it was a miserable, existence, not in the least because it meant I spent my weekends trapped at a table at some craft show with my mother.
In addition to scads of completed projects (like the 100's--I'm not kidding--of paper cranes of every color and size I've folded and sometimes made mobiles out of) all of which take a lot of space so they don't get damaged, are the materials for projects that I'd like to try. I never lack for ideas. I can see potential in almost anything. Today I threw out wooden thread spools that I was going to group and paint for the simple reason that I don't want to any more, but I've collected them for years and it was a slight wrench. I have bags of scraps that would make lovely quilts. And tons of fabric and patterns. I have a bag where I throw dried rose buds and blossoms from the bouquets my husband gives me. I've covered maybe two boxes and put them on cards. Oh, I also sold cards decorated with tatted lace one year. I think I netted a grand total of $48.
I am not as bad as many of my friends. If I took say, two weeks, maybe three and worked solidly everyday I would use up everything I have. I have friends I think who could sew and craft continuously for the rest of their lives and not use up their stash, but I DON'T want to be like that. I'm trying to weed everything, even books. To say, will I really look at this again? Will I refer to it? Would I want to lend it to someone? It's hard though, because there are so many memories associated with everything. Holding an object is close to Proustian for me. I can remember when I bought clothes that I love, where I was when I finished a book, found a treasure. I ironed a shirt today that I've had since I was 13. I remember buying it in Express when Express was THE label to have and I couldn't afford anything. I also put a shirt in a bag to take to Goodwill that I've never worn. It seemed like a good idea, but it was just never comfortable enough to get past trying it on in the morning. It's even harder throwing away clothing that I made. I think about the time I put into it, the enthusiasm for the project and I can't quite let it go as if it had never been. I throw away a lot--all the time. I grab free books off of library free carts, read them and pass them on. But some absurd things are very hard for me to let go of--like the one half of my first semi-decent pair of scissors. The pin fell out and I lost one half, but the one by itself looked like art to me. I let it go. It feels like letting go of something I once was. Like I'm betraying the past, even though I know it's not.

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