Small objects can bring great pleasure. Finding them is fun, but so is making them. This week I did a little bit of both.
Matt was away at a meeting at the beginning of the week, and I had to distract myself so that I wouldn’t feel too lonely. On Sunday afternoon, I headed out in search of some supplies for some projects, and stumbled on the Hotorget flea market. I nearly bought an intaglio print that looked Important, somehow, with its embossed stamp and Picasso-like style — but it was 600 SEK, and by the time I came back to the stand convinced it was worth the cash, the proprietor was gone. So I just took a bunch of photos of it.
I hit up Åhlens for some cloth and supplies, and that evening, I started some sewing projects I had been meaning to do. The deadline (a baby shower) was fast approaching, so I gathered my materials — onesies, needle and thread — and then plopped myself on the couch on Sunday night and Monday morning. I thought of my friend HF, knitting in front of the television, as I stitched away in front of a movie (The Seven Year Itch) and some Daily Show episodes. (Bill Moyers, fabulous!!)
The final products were tiny, imperfect creations, but they were fun to make and I admit to feeling proud of them. The idea of making little monsters, even though the pattern came from someone else’s design and aesthetic, was still mine somehow, and it felt good to be creative.
Spending those few hours with needle and stuffing and fabric also clarified for me the pull of the Etsy/Crafty-Bastards scene. It’s just fun to make something special, unique, handmade. And for some reason, people are really drawn to these kinds of objects, perhaps, I think, because we live in a world of mass-produced plastic gewgaws from China. Which, of course, are cheap and take no time to purchase, in comparison to the hours I spent making fairly useless objects that might fall apart once the baby gets his hands on them! Trade-offs in all things, right?
I want Cheap. Still, I wonder what objects will populate the Goodwills and Myrornas of the future. If we are only making things that fall apart (with apologies to Chinua Achebe), what will remain that is of value? On the other hand, humans like the new — and we need it, as our values change, I think, and we can’t afford expensive-new, so we look for the fast, cheap thrill.
Hunting for objects is a human past-time. We love to collect! On Monday afternoon, Sweden’s National Day, I went over to a friend’s garden for the afternoon and we had fika — her husband brought down coffee and ice cream to eat as we sat under the trees and schmoozed. One cup: a “vintage” ceramic mug with “Paw yer coffee’s ready!” inscribed above Maw shouting at Paw Kettle on the side — hillbilly characters from the 1940s and 1950s. They found the pair of coffee cups at a kind of estate sale, from a woman who moved from Minnesota to Sweden.
It’s weird what we humans value and select to save. We also love to make things that leave our mark, to be remembered by. This last week has been a bit of a mess, in part because something I thought I was going to be able to make, a text that would make a difference, was taken away from me. My colleagues dismissed me from a project on which I had been working for a few years, off and on. It’s both a relief to have it gone, and distressing to lose the opportunity to do something like this.
So, back to the drawing board — hunting for amusing or useful or otherwise desirable things to buy, looking for important or funny or other things to make.