On time and crafting

Craft work can be seen as preserving time. Hand made items preserve time in the same way that fruit is preserved as jam, not as the unchanged strawberry or plum fresh plucked, but as something cooked and processed to preserve the taste of summer. Hand made items embody both the hours of making (time) and memories and feelings of people (the times) within the construction of the object . . .a true cultural artifact. – from needle & spindle, via Kate Davies Design

My recent rug and blanket projects sparked some reflection on my affinity for all things hand-made, so it felt quite serendipitous to stumble on these words this week. In general, I have to fight a tendency toward a scarcity mindset of time, and especially my own. But I have no interest in reducing the number of hours I spend making things. I would have accepted it as yet one more incongruity in the mind of bethany, but I think the jam analogy provides a better explanation.

On the surface, spending countless hours to knit a sweater or braid a rug or carve a spoon is utterly impractical. But those hours aren’t “spent” carving the spoon, they’re spent scoping the woods on Jolie Way, and soaking up the sunshine on Adam’s front stoop in NE Portland, and pondering the last days of my year of travel… and along the way a bit of wood got infused with my 28-year-old self. So when I pull that utensil out of the drawer, a little bit of that self joins me for a meal.

It seems so plain now, but my intuitive calculus reflected the time invested and the finished object and some measure for sentimentality, but no explicit consideration for the value of preserving my experiences in the raw materials. There’s another layer there when the object is practical and useful so the memories get woven into everyday life, almost a nonlinear experience of time.

I know this isn’t a new idea, but it’s an insight I couldn’t have articulated last week and it helped me understand why I like crafting and appreciate hand-made items as much as I do. As if I needed an excuse to take on more hand-making projects!