Monday, May 27, 2013

The Soul of the HandMade

A "Bunad" or traditional dress of Norway

I had a sweet conversation with a couple of Nordic Dancers at Folklife yesterday.

I was sketching a velvet vest encrusted with garish embroidery. A woman sitting next to me noticed and started talking costume and i learned a lot about blouses in trunks and traveling fabrics, repurposed drapes and a wonderous belt i can only imagine.

Her friend joined the conversation as she was a costumer for the dance troupe. She made new pieces based on the old handmade costumes.

This is where the soul of the handmade entered the discourse. She told me how people would say, “oh, that is so wonderful, just like the original garment,” and she would say, “ no, no it isn't , they may look similar but they are not the same.”

She spoke of the hand of the garments the look of the backs , the colors. How the hours and  hours of handwork came after the growing, harvesting and weaving of the flax. She understood how the whole of the process that informs the original pieces, cannot really compare with what we can “afford” to do today.

Isn’t it strange? We can afford to live in material overload and yet we cannot “afford” to live where the soul of life, where our hearts and joys manifest

I believe our creative processes uncover the gifts we are meant to share with the world. This is why individualism makes sense in the whole of the multi verse (Amit Goswami) that is “All”

I am thinking how losing the time, space and essence of this work of finding true purpose (albeit not vocalized or even necessarily a conscious thought back in the days of lore) is a deadly thing.

When we throw so much under the “bus of profit and growth” in the name of progress; what are we growing, at what cost and who gets to decide if this is really progress?

And what is carried into the world by the "fast fashion" garment produced in a sweatshop? What aura persists after the label goes on?

Pandora’s Box of bad juju, every time the plastic is pulled off the tee shirt bundle, a little more sadness is released into the world. Trade is more than a material transfer.