The generation I grew up with in Canada was typically separated from things we bought, both luxuries and utilitarian, by several degrees of separation.
In Italy, where I spent most of my summers, night gowns were made for me, my aunts made the most beautiful lace, most things were bespoke. No one would dream of buying a ready made chair. I took it in stride.
Over the years however, it grew to mean a great deal to me to know the makers; to enjoy the unique and hand crafted. I remember buying curtain tassels from an artisan in the center of Rome working out of a shop no bigger than my garden shed. I was 24. I had no need for tassels. I didn’t even have curtains. But I was impressed, moved actually by the beauty and the commitment to her craft. As arcane as tassels seemed to me at the time, I had to have them. I still have them (not on curtains). They remind me that there is another aspect to our often stressful lives. The honesty, integrity and commitment of crafts people is a balm and a joy.
I’ve always been a creative type, so they tell me, and over the years I grew to believe and own it. There were moments where I gave myself completely to the need to make, to create. It sounds a bit pretentious, maybe a lot pretentious, but getting in a zone and leaving behind the noise of work, obligations, groceries and laundry, the ordinary, is priceless. It is so because the process is mine and mine alone. If the result is something others can enjoy, then it feels pretty great. But the making gives me a connection with me. Over time I learned much through that connection, about my sensibilities, how I see what is around me.
There are days when I am utterly disappointed with how we treat our planet and each other. Then I bring home sour dough bread made by Matthew, wearing hand made socks and wrapped in a throw I will leave in my will. A connection with the better parts of us.