Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Stories We Tell

We call some creative efforts art and others craft. I've read that art has no purpose other than to express an emotion or tell a story but that craft refers to creating utilitarian objects that may be decorative.

Something prompted even prehistoric people to decorate useful items. At first, the decorations may have had a special purpose. They may have indicated a clan association or status. They may have been the signature of the maker. They may have been charms to ward off evil. But at some point we humans began to embellish items for the sole purpose of creating beauty. We started using decoration tell a story.

Fibre and yarn creations are rarely thought of as art forms (except for tapestry). Perhaps it is because they tend to be highly useful and more ephemeral than oil paintings or works made from metal or stone. Perhaps it is because spinning and working with yarn were once considered a domestic chore.

Centuries ago, needlework may have been the only creative outlet for most women. Their nameless works that can be found in museums are awe inspiring especially considering the conditions under which the work was done. Mere decoration doesn't do them justice. We can only guess the stories behind these pieces.

Today we are seeing a resurgence of the fibre and yarn arts as creative endeavours. The pieces we produce today are likely to begin with the urge to capture a scene, tell a story or express an emotion. Even a utilitarian towel can be an inspiration translated into bold designs and rich colours.

A humble basket can be more than just a container. It can represent the natural environment that provided the basket weaver with fibers.

Animals are often the inspiration for a creation. Truly devoted spinners will eventually attempt to spin just about any fibre or hair they can get. It is not uncommon to find that a pet has been more than just the muse for a piece. A sweater made from a blend of dog hair and wool can become the memory of a loving companion.
When you own a fibre producing animal, you have a special link with the yarn produced. The subtle colour of different skeins of alpaca yarn might be just interesting to you or me but to the alpaca owner they have names and characters. Think of an incredibly soft cozy scarf that is a gift from the animals you have raised.

Some pieces are created to commemorate an event. Such pieces are filled with love and joy and pride. The move to a new house pompts the creation of a hand-woven rug. A daughter's ordination is celebrated with a fine handwoven shawl.

Some pieces are created to capture a fleeting moment or vision. Dappled light in an autumn forest inspires a wall hanging. A silk scarf captures the essence of the summer sea.

The next time that you are at a show or sale make sure that you spend some time talking to the craftspeople about their work. If you are in the Oceanside area look for us at various events this summer starting with the Qualicum Beach, Family Days on May 29th. We'd love to tell you our stories.