Each December I write about my annual Trim Alchemy Maker Party. In a way, it wraps the year up nicely in a bow. Sarah Petchell, my gal Friday/studio manager, co-hosted the eve as an expert maker. We sat in the studio this morning, which looked like an explosion of party dregs (scattered trimmings, yarns, beads, opened bottles of wine and crumbled sweets), recounting the evening like giddy sorority sisters. Our conversation turned a little more serious as we dissected our post-party high. Making stuff is meaningful. I’d like to share some of the holiday lessons that this holiday has gifted me.
1. We need to recharge.
As women, and especially mothers, we get depleted this time of year taking care of all the gift giving, not only for family, but also for our kids’ teachers, coaches, bus drivers, the news paper deliverer…the list goes on. (No offense guys, but MOST men are not thinking about all this.) It’s hectic and we exhaust ourselves. Taking this party time-out to be with other women and craft was a break we all needed to recharge our batteries.
2. We yearn to connect and share.
As Sarah puts it, “We no longer are leaning over the back fence chatting with our neighbor.” Facebook isn’t the same as earnestly connecting with our friends. We need to make space for these encounters and get them on the calendar. The book club has replaced the bygone sewing circle. I love books but I prefer to make things, and maybe these maker parties and the new “stitch and bitch”? LOL! Although we don’t do a lot of bemoaning at my parties, we do find camaraderie in the frustrations we share. We also get to celebrate our latest accomplishments. With our hands engaged crafting, talking about our latest achievement is conversation, not bragging. It’s different from having cocktails or a dinner party. Conversation isn’t the main focus, it’s secondary, and as such, it’s less intimidating for personal sharing.
3. Making is therapeutic.
I learned the power of making decades ago when I started sewing: how calming it is to get lost in a project, how rewarding it is to create something unique with my own design and hands. Having done many Trim Alchemy workshops at the Country Living Fairs, the participants ALWAYS tell me how good they feel making something. The creative act of making is very empowering and when we allow design a project, we feel positive, uplifted and our point of view is validated by something physical.
4. Limitations spark creativity.
I had an emergency early December that took me away from my usual holiday breakneck pace. This was a gift to slow down and simplify, I changed my expectations and that was a huge shift for me. I ran across the quote above, by the Arthur Ashe “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” and I adopted it as my motto for the season.
I send Italian panettone as gifts to clients, and instead of racing out to buy “perfect” embellishments of vintage ribbon and gold cording, I took a breath, re-read my quote, and used what I had in the studio. It was actually an exhilarating challenge, playful, and I like the results. I hope my clients do too. Making is like cooking: if the ingredients are good, delicious things emerge. Without a strict recipe, the pressure for perfection is off and you can relax and enjoy the process more. In the book on competitive tennis Relaxed Intensity, author Happy Bhalla asserts that we perform at optimum level when relaxed. I think this is true on the court and in life. (can you tell I’m a tennis fanatic?)
5. Creating is a form of self expression.
It was fascinating that each ornament made was indicative of the maker’s personality. Refined, bold, meticulous, reserved, fearless, delicate, fun….whether it was in the colors chosen, or the layering of materials, each finished product held true to its maker. We put our voice into making things and when finished, we feel “heard.”
I am so grateful to my friends who shared their time, themselves, their insights and skills over laughter, noshes, and our Fringe Fizz cocktail! This annual party defines the beauty of the season for me, slowing down to create and connect.
Cheers to a joyful holiday, full of creativity and magic that this season uniquely brings.