Ordering the universe with beads or yarn makes sense to me. I was sitting at a picnic table at the foot of Mt. Cardigan in NH, slightly annoyed that people were coming and going and I just didn’t feel like nodding or saying hi or even noticing them. So I bent my head down into the tray of beads and I started ordering them. That’s what we do when we attach these little gorgeous things together whether we use a loom or just needle and thread.
I live in what some would consider the middle of nowhere. In fact, it isn’t at all that but compared to where most folks live, I guess it is. A “real” grocery store is at least 16 miles away in any direction (we have a general store circa mid-1800 which we use too much because who wants to drive 16 miles for a gallon of milk . . . besides, the eggs there are all local grown and it is one of the few businesses in Francestown.) So the reality is that the foot of a mountain folks like to hike is going to be way busier than the hill I live on where you just don’t see folks very much and can easily escape people noises. We do have the insistent rumbling of house appliances and the slight buzz of electricity and, of course, the computer sounds and the ringing phones. But I can hole myself up in my studio and avoid strangers at all times. I can even avoid family members and friends if I want.
So there I am: Claudia, her beads and a bunch of strangers looking to climb a mountain or swim in New Foundland Lake (one of our more over-populated lakes but it does house a large State Park). I have two hours before Rick and I head off on our next canoe adventure. I am frantically bringing order to my universe by attaching those beads together, certain beads, in a certain manor that is mine. It is my universe and I am in control. I am not inside my body. My body only exists as a tool to make this thing in my mind happen. And I am happy, perfectly happy, perfectly content.
Have you ever noticed that when you are in the throes of creation you are actually in a state that can be considered, if not blissful or happy, content? Yes, there are those rushes of adrenalin when you solve a problem, but mostly it’s the repetition of moves that sooth. You make changes: what you are working on grows and mutates as your eyes observe the changes. Nothing outside of that tiny world exists. It is just you and your hands and the materials you are rearranging.
How simple. What a simple way to feel content. And yet, it’s not all that. What about the storms that rage when you are trying to solve an idea and find yourself failing again and again? What about those moments when nothing you are working on is working? When there is nothing to turn to with your hands that you can continue, change, develop? Not so good, those times. And then the moment comes when the idea you suddenly woke up with stuck inside your head begins to transform itself, begins to take shape, seems possible, seems entirely yours or at least somewhat yours because every little step we advance is based on a step someone else already took.
Anyway, there it is: you are shaping a little universe with your hands and it is all your are for the time you spend there.
I find eventually I do want to leave. Yes, I have spent many hours at a stretch working on one thing. But my usual level of attention on any one thing for any one stretch of time is two to three hours. Sometimes I am burnt out for the day. Sometimes I need to turn to some other medium or just some other project. It depends. And then of course there is the constant pull to run Mirrix!
I don’t know if I could exist without making art. It has become such a central theme for my life. I don’t know how to live differently. A few years ago I was visiting my parents in Corsica with my two children. I brought a lot of toys to play with. I dabbled very briefly with my toys. In the end, I made bead patterns on my computer and never so much as made an actual item out of anything. I was so proud of myself for essentially doing nothing for five weeks, for creating nothing physical for five weeks and just hanging out with my family. I needed to do that. They weren’t strangers at a campground from whom I needed to escape. I also needed to know I could live without my addiction for a period of time. When I returned home I was back to it instantly, but the break from my usual compulsive need to create was a good thing.
Where did it begin? Can you answer that question? What was the first hint that you were destined to make things? I can. But I’ll save it for another blog.