Over the past little while I have been reading a book titled ‘Educating the Will’. I came across it somewhere during my Steiner Teacher Training years ago and thought I’d really like to get to it one day. It was more of a calling actually, like I know you (the contents of the book) are where it’s at for me, but for what ever reason I just can’t pick it up yet.
All through my life there has been a themed thread which has continued on. A thread I continue to ply (add layers) to. I’ve been a maker from a very young age. As some of you may know I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who shared many soft craft skills with me when I would visit her at the sheep farm.
As a child I would make clothes for my teddy bears from simple designs I had in my mind. Then after being able to hand stitch I learnt to use a sewing machine in my early teens. After getting lost in the throws of adolescence through media, internet, magazines, T.V, peer pressure, and general societal pressures I opted out of my bar job at 23 and jumped into studying fashion design at technical college.
In the midst of the course I was confronted with some environmental truths I had not yet been exposed to, or had been too blind to see. I started a label, which used the up-cycling of fabrics as a stand against consumerism and fast fashion, but it wasn’t enough for me. I decided to call it quits, I told myself there were already so many people focused on fashion and labels out there in the world, I wanted to do something more radical.
Enter Permaculture. This strange word had popped up one day when I was researching eco or green fashion design. I took a deep dive and everything made sense. Now what?! Onwards then, I had wanted to teach these ideas in an age appropriate way to children, but I didn’t have the tools. I just had the feeling.
Then on the journey I went into my teacher training. Through this course we undertook several craft projects as part of an experiential process in educating the will. It was not just about learning how to make things to teach to others. It was about experiencing it first hand and seeing what it feels like to learn a new skill, work through a project, and see it’s completion. I had enjoyed this and equally struggled with the fact that we were just making more ‘stuff’.
I like to think I have always been quite a practical person so making things of use had been and continues to be important to me but I didn’t really know why.
One of my favourite things to teach when I was a classroom teacher was making/ craft, but real crafts, making beautiful things of use. Not cut, paste, fold, staple. I brought some lengthy projects to my class, which they persisted at and completed.
One such project was a woven pencil roll. It was quite the task for twenty-eight 7 year olds, but they got there, and when they did, they were so thrilled. I sore in them not only the joy on completion, but the lasting joy of using something they had made which had practical use on a daily basis.
As I began my weaving and spinning journey over a year ago I knew I had wanted to teach not only these skills but others too that support the growth of one’s will. Alas at the present moment these skills were/are my focus.
Five weeks ago I took to the Lost Trades Fair in Victoria almost a 2000km drive away from my home to see what other artisans were doing (get a bit immersed) and to meet people and share my trade. It was an incredible event with many different skills in traditional crafts being demonstrated to some sixteen thousand patrons.
I had taken lots of my woven work with me to sell, however after experiencing the full weekend and the energy and intention of the event I have come home with lots to reflect upon and some clarity has begun to arise for me as to the direction my work is heading.
It is actually the working with the hands that I had wanted to be a part of, and to share. Whilst I had done this by demonstrating and talking to people, I had not given a huge opportunity for patrons to have a go and experience for themselves the art of weaving. There is still more pondering to do here as far as an offering so lets see what is birthed in time.
Traditionally, to get the things we needed for daily life we had to make them with our hands. It was a slow process. It worked muscles in different parts of our bodies; there was feeling in it as well as skill, it kept our minds focussed and in the present moment. Things were full of beauty. Today with the mechanisation of everything coming off a conveyer belt one has to actively choose to make by hand. And there is such a pull towards more and faster and our lives are so busy and full that there has to be an intentional will to sit down and pursue a task and project.
Once we can sit down, give over and fall into the timelessness of a project, that is where the juice is. It is this meditative space where we can find home and feel a deep connection to something bigger then say, the pillowcase we may be hand sewing.