Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hagthorn Crafts!

One of the ways I decided to celebrate Beltane this year was to open an Etsy shop!

With the blossoming of the May would come the blossoming of a new project and a committment to spending more of my time being creative and practical. It's already proving to be very practical in therapeutic ways. How practical it turns out to be in financially viable ways awaits to be seen!

At the moment it feels far from that, since the hours I'm spending creating (enjoyable as they are) can nowhere near be reflected in the financial value I have to try and fix on the finished items. I expect many people handmaking individual crafts, however professional they are, feel this way. But I struggle with the concept personally too. I think this whole area is why I've never got very far with establishing 'work' out of the various skills I've trained for. Passionate and competent as I felt about practicing iridology and reflexology and promoting natural health, when I tried to focus on setting up and promoting a 'business', that is exchanging a service or a product for MONEY, all sorts of obstacles seemed to pop up and get in the way. The lack of a focussed business attitude was not the only obstacle of course... life has a habit of throwing spokes in the wheels of well-laid plans!

I know that being fairly paid for your work, having control of your work conditions and choices, and being able to make a living out of work you enjoy, is vital to the health of a community and of society as well as of the individual. It's worlds away from the exploitation inherent in the profit-driven corporate, capitalist business model that is so damaging our planet and people right now.

So, yeah, it's important that we get to grips with how we can turn what we love doing into what can feed and house us. There's no way I have any expectations of Etsy doing this for me! However, the important thing it has already done is to kickstart me in a new direction. It's helped me to let go of those strands of intentions which have been draining my energy for so long because they always remained stuck in the list of 'things I should be doing' but which I never managed to shape into something real that worked for me. It's helped me to get back in touch with being artistically creative - making stuff! Interestingly, it's given me the sense of *legitimising* using my time in this way. Which brings up a whole new load of questions about what the 'value' and the 'permission' which we attribute to our lives is all about and what the influences on these are. About what 'work' is and within this context, even within a relatively 'free' society, what FREEDOM really means.

It also throws up questions of how I balance my creative desires with my ethical and environmental values. At the moment I'm working through the stocks of acrylic paints and materials that I currently have, but when these run out, how can I continue to paint if I can't afford to buy the eco-acrylics which will not contribute to the pollution of our planet? So, while I'm figuring out some answers I'll also continue visiting bins on windy days for the stockpiling of fabrics from broken umbrellas. I'll keep picking up interesting sticks on walks and keeping an observant eye for the many other quite randomly acquired materials I seem to be amassing in the hugely inadequate space of my home. All of which I hope to turn into suitable items for the shelves of Hagthorn Crafts!

So, while we could really do with more money coming into our household, if I end up making any pennies from my Etsy shop, it'll come as a bonus because I'm grateful for the inspiration it's provided me with - enough maybe to try out a stall sometime at a local craft market, and to remember how good it feels to be moving in a direction I feel more comfortable with.

"A better remedy...than all the things sold at the chemists shop"

Coming across a card of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh called Almond Blossoms, somehow made me much more observant this April and May of the blossom trees and the way they really do uplift the spirit. There are so many, always so beautiful around in the hedges and parks where I live and their whites and pinks against a bright blue sky are like a huge declaration of hope and trust in the renewal of new life.  

Almond Blossoms ~ Vincent Van Gogh

I decided to research a little into Vincent's blossom paintings and found that this was one of his favourite subjects. The sight of blossoming branches against a blue sky was a symbol of new life to him, and because of that he painted 'Almond Blossoms' as a gift to his brother for the birth of his son. As well as painting them himself, he collected paintings of them too, mainly Japanese blossom paintings, and they brought him a sense of peace.

Blossom tree in hedge on my street

I kind of got obsessed one day in April with trying to capture that perfect picture of blossom against sky, but soon found that it was an impossible thing for me to do. The sky was never deep enough, the pink was never bright enough. The downloaded photo was never enough to satisfy because it could never bring that feeling of serenity felt in the heart which Vincent talked about. Or the way it feels when you look up at the sky and you just can't open your eyes wide enough to take it all in. Maybe painting it like he did brought him a bit closer to that experience? 

Or maybe, all that's needed is to lay back, gaze up and do nothing! Just absorb it all through skin, eyes, smell... That's clearly not what Vincent chose to do! He wrote in a letter: "I am up to my ears in work for the trees are in blossom..."
Wild Cherry tree blossom in my garden

St Mary's Church Park, Portsmouth.
After a windy morning!
I certainly found myself agreeing about the healing powers he writes of in this letter to his sister:

"Having as much of this serenity as possible, even though one knows little - nothing - for certain, is perhaps a better remedy for all diseases than all the things that are sold at the chemist's shop".

I was noticing today how most of these blossoms are now blown to the ground and the trees are showing their new green leaves more clearly. But it's not over yet... walking the dog this morning, I found the Hawthorn is coming into blossom - the Hagthorn!

Hawthorn ~ Hagthorn