With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I asked myself, what do I want from my newly acquired art form? It’s the essential coaching question: what do you really want? But, like the infamous shoemaker, I rarely ask it of myself.
Do I want to turn this growing passion into 1) a full-fledged business, developing a website, creating inventory, exhibiting online? Do I want it to be 2) a hobby, however that could be defined? Or do I 3) even need to determine what this passion may become at this point? If you guessed #3 you’d be correct. No one is holding a weapon to my head asking, “Business or passion?”
The question arose as I was researching penny rugs, wools and supplies online and came across hand-operated and electric machines that die cut fabric into perfect shapes, like circles. Since circles are the main ingredient of this ‘penny’ craft, it could abbreviate the time I spend marking my wool pieces with a fine-pointed Sharpie and templates, then cutting them by hand with the Gingher scissors I bought over 30 years ago. The process would become more automated as I line up the wool to insert into the press. The die-cut circles would be uniform and close to perfect in shape and size. However, the gadget would alter the aesthetic joy of cutting and also take up precious real estate in my work area.
And I love my Gingher scissors. Each time I use them I think of the investment I made at the time to buy the best. The precision of the cut through the felted wool satisfies my eyes and ears with each snip. The irregularity of the shapes as a result of human error and fabric idiosyncrasies adds to the one-of-a-kind pleasure of the handmade work. The overall appearance is still pleasing, even though the circles are not precisely the same size.
Am I even looking to speed up the process? What’s the rush? Since March, I have enjoyed every aspect from designing the pillow or wall-hanging in PowerPoint, selecting from my growing wool collection, and ordering more on etsy or Heavens to Betsy, matching these to the Perle cotton threads I’ve collected, and sorting through a growing supply of beads, buttons and sequins.
As I’ve endured being out of my apartment for my kitchen renovation, the one thing that has kept me tethered to myself is this art form. “You’re grounded in pillows,” a good friend observed.
At this point, nearly six months into my new art, I’m going to take it one day, one pillow, at a time. When I get more information – a large order or opportunity – I’ll make a new decision. Often we put pressure on ourselves when none exists. I already know how to grow a business. I did it for over 30 years when that was the right thing to do. Now, knowing what is right for this artist is more important than the urge to expand before I need to.