I am a Maker

Like my Creator I too have been given the blessing of being able to create. I have been given hands that can hold my instruments, and a mind that can see things that are not yet there. I have seen beauty beget beauty and deep searing pain beget beauty. I have seen that which seems impossible and made it so. I make words work together. I make small beautiful things to adorn people and places.

I work on my artistry and craft for the same reason I write here…for therapy. Every piece has held, helped, and healed a moment in my life that was joyful or painful. Each piece I have crafted is a monument to my desire to make beautiful things as I have been made into a beautiful thing. To remind others that though they adorn their homes and themselves with my work, they have been adorned with a souls, crafted by the greatest hands of an Almighty Craftsman.

I work to remind the world, that if you want beautiful things you must…absolutely must….stop starving the artists.

Below is a collection of some of my small adornments. They are a combination of metals and natural materials. If you’d like to see more you’re welcome to visit my business Facebook page.

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Christmas Plans

The day has been grey, and as I sit here at my laptop I can only be thankful to be indoors. The combination snow and rain is making my bones chill, even though my heat is on full blast and my cats are warmly tucked at my feet and behind my back as I type. It officially feels like winter now, as I can watch the sun sink a little earlier in the day. It’s only 4pm and nearly dark out, accompanied by clouds looking stern and cold through the water droplets on my window pane.

My husband and I set up our Christmas Trees last weekend. This year we set out only 3 instead of 4. Our little 3 ft white tree in the living room, our 2 ft frocked tree in the bedroom, and a 3 ft metal frame “tree” my husband keeps in the basement with the rest of his nerd ornaments. This year we have no travel plans and no required places to be. We’ve not committed to anything at all.

I’m actually looking forward to Christmas this year.

As I’ve posted in the past, I do not often like Christmas. I dislike the commercialism, even though I do enjoy shopping to a fault. I struggle between wanting things and wishing I didn’t want things, as I think most people my age do. We’re raised by TV and Internet to be consumers and then we we are adults, we realize we cannot afford to consume as much as we want, and more than half the time, we can’t even afford what we need. So while I love shopping, I shouldn’t, and while I would love to give Christmas Gifts to people I love, I usually can’t.

One of the remedies I have discussed in past posts has been to alternate Christmas gift giving between making handmade gifts, and giving gifts that support greater causes like Charities or a small family-owned business. By doing this, I find either I give something a little more thoughtful and custom made, or I’m giving a gift that gives back in some way or another. That way my family gets gifts, and my gift giving feels more meaningful than just buying the lasted gadget at a large corporation that doesn’t do that much for it’s community or the charities it claims to support. Plus, I leave with less buyers remorse than usual.

A few of the Charities I’ve given to and supported this year I posted in a previous blog post and have been supporting for a while either with my money or my time (or both).

Another reason I’ve been enjoying Christmas more this year, is because I’m doing more to celebrate. My husband and I are starting to formulate and investigate Christmas traditions, which we hadn’t done last year because we were only celebrating our first Christmas and didn’t quite know what the other thought about the holiday, much less what we thought about traditions. One of the traditions we decided on, that also works as a personal goal, is that we’ve decided to attend every Advent sermon at church this Advent season to help us reflect on not only the positivity we should feel for the season, but also the greatest Gift of all…The birth of Jesus Christ.

Another tradition my husband and I are starting this year, is we’re throwing a small Krampus celebration, where we have invited friends over on Dec. 5th (Krampusnacht) to watch the Dark Comedy Film based on the old lore of Krampus, the Christmas Demon. Apparently an old European tale of a demon who took care of the naughty children in a way that St. Nick didn’t (usually kidnapping and eating them). A little dark and ridiculous, but all the same a fun little something that we can look forward to every year.

What are your holiday plans? What traditions do you celebrate in the winter months?

Anticipation Wayzgoose

Every year around this time the letterpress community comes together to spend time with one another at the convention known as Wayzgoose. The first weekend of November, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum hosts the event, and every year since 2016, I have volunteered my time for this long weekend of creativity, fun, and chaos.

I’m expected at the museum at 7am, and as I lay here, frightfully aware of what little I have prepared for my swap table on Sunday, I’m terribly excited to see people I only see once a year.

During the chaos of Wayzgoose I will be thankful for a thing I often take for granted: toilets. During my time at Wayzgoose this weekend, my bathroom is getting remodeled and I will be without a toilet from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Besides that fact, I will also be thankful for the respite that public restrooms can provide for a little introverted girl looking for a moment to get away from the crowds of people swarming around her. Not that the crowds are unfriendly, but they are thick with familiar faces, stimulating conversations, and an overall drain on my psyche and body. I love Wayzgoose, I love seeing friends yearly and catching up. It just drains me to my core in the days following.

Then, there is the anxiety. You get around all these famous designers who are Somebodies with massive talent and bank accounts, only to feel like the smallest of the small. It’s intimidating being around so many big name artists and graphic designers, that one cannot help but feel self conscious in just about every way. Not only that, but I only recently got myself a tiny showcard press for myself, and while I put forth efforts to utilize my press and develop in many ways, my work is limited and falls short compared to other designers around me.

All around, it’s an exciting event. I love listening to designers tell their stories, and I love being part of a community of creatives that are intentional about spending time together and sharing ideas. I love taking in the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Not to mention how great the food is each year.

I’m really excited, I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.

Nostalgic for Another Age

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor holds my thoughts a lot lately as I’ve been reading it. In a time where wealth, elitism, and a hostile environment towards modernism in art and Jewish culture become a chaotic romantic period all its own. I continually think about what it must have been like to be part of high society. To live with papers writing about you and to see painters display portraits of yourself commissioned and hung on gallery walls. To live during a time of revolution and oppression all at once.

I often think about the way things were then. About what being a young woman in society looked like. The oppression of the feminine sexuality in the brink of its liberation. A time when social standing could be both a blessing and a curse to the private and social life depending on the pastime you chose as a lady. The more I read about it, the more I find myself wishing to ah e lived it. To be part of the golden revolution of sexuality and modernism. To go to fashionable parties and meet the artists of the time, talk to hem about their artistry, to speak on political climates and to spend time bejeweled in gowns at operas with friends.

Most days I wish I was born in another era.

What I both love and loath about the time is he way men treated women. Male callers would respectfully call on you and show you a good time, but to be seen as anything but virtuous while out with the male caller would mean the complete destruction of your eligibility were things not to work out. If you were less fortunate, you’re marriages would be arranged, with wealthy older men who probably had mistresses and STDs. Still, the glamor of the wealthy lifestyle would have been nice. To own palaces and fine jewelry. To attend social events regularly at salons to exchange new and exciting ideas. To get dressed to the aces and go out dancing as a single debutante. The thrill of being chased after, and the thrill of knowing you had a chance against all chances to sense the changing tide of female liberation.

Of course, the book I’m reading takes placed during both WWI and WWII. With political anxiety at its height threatening the liberation you so desperately were seeking and the research of Freud was so nearly honoring, only to be swept under the rug of war along with racism. What a trying, terrifying, and anxious time it would be to live in, if we are being realistic. Not something to envy.

Still, I romanticize the idea of living high society life in those days at its glamorous height. I envision myself much like the rebellious women of the time. Sensually dressed in the latest forbidden fashions. Frequenting salons to talk on the artistic and political climate (which only means talking about men, which I would be a considerable advocate of being young, single, and allowed my forgivable ignorance). Sipping champagne and tea on hot afternoons in galleries, alone and mysterious…and stubbornly unchaperoned. Loudly fighting for women’s suffrage and rights at the turn of the century.

Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about it a lot. Wondering why such things no longer take place? Though, to be realistic once again, such lifestyles require not just wealth, but elitism, something most Americans, myself included, would cringe at. That is the unfortunate issue with fantasies like this…they have so many negatives about them that at the end of the day you wonder how good could anyone in high society, then or now, really have it? Still, the shallow part of me wishes being able to dress up and go to respectable house parties Gatsby style wouldn’t be too bad if one could avoid the drama and times were fairly peaceful.

Fallen Tree

Days passed. As they did, the demise of the felled tree in the neighboring house’s back yard became more and more apparent. The leaves turned a triumphant gold before withering to brown and wilting to the ground. The remnants of crab apples clung to the dead and dying branches, their last chance at life, withering hopelessly as they clung.

Our neighbor had died some months ago, and while the yard was still being kept, nothing was done to remove the old fallen crab apple tree from the yard for several weeks. I inspected the thing the day after it fell. During a storm, the night before, the winds had howled ominously and the rain beat the ground hard, as if the earth its self had committed some kind of terrible crime they sky could not, and would not forgive. It was no punishment for the ground, despite the violence, because the ground took in the water, practically dying of thirst from the many dry and hot days that came before the storm’s relief.

I contemplated the dying tree as I sat with a large cup of tea in one hand, and my feet planted firmly on the freshly cut grass. How long until all things fall and die? How long did that tree stand for before it’s unexpected demise? How long had the old widow next door (who I can say I never saw nor met) lived in that house and for how long alone? I could not and cannot say. We saw the ambulance take her away, and heard from another neighbor she had passed.

She was as much a mystery to me as her death. No. As death itself.

Design Problems

The piles of products that needed rebranding only got bigger, as the team got smaller. Down a designer and with only three of us left to “work our graphics magic” as other employees would say, our week days were filled with the constant struggle of hurrying up only to wait when another department had to provide us with information. Thankfully the waiting gave us time to finish other small side projects, but we all knew that we would be needing a fourth designer…and soon.

Two weeks into being a three man (or two woman and a man) team, our supervisor came into our office having realized we never had job descriptions created for anyone in our graphics department. So we all sat down as a team and started describing our responsibilities as a whole and as individuals. “You guys share a lot of responsibilities.” She said, shocked and wondering how we were going to be reviewed in the future if everything we did, we shared with only a couple exceptions. “Well, design is collaborative, so isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing?” I asked confused. “Well how am I supposed to know who did what amount of work for these projects?” She asked trying to understand where the hierarchy in our department was. “We all do large chunks of it.” He said looking puzzled. “Sometimes we each take a whole project start to finish, but our team members offer critique and suggestions.” Said our other team member in an attempt to get the full scope of how we worked together on projects.

Our supervisor, new to how we had done things, still didn’t fully understand. In a competitive corporate setting, collectivism wasn’t something people saw very often. In other departments, individuals took on certain tasks in an assembly line sort of process. In a small graphics department, everyone just did a little bit of everything, because we all have equal talent, and because we all knew we were a department far too small for a company of this scale…so no one could afford to slack, and no one could afford the luxury of a single responsibility.

Still, afterward we collaborated as a team to help assign one another leadership tasks. We wrote out our job descriptions together, with some things shared, and some things realized as singular strengths that met the needs of certain tasks.

Mostly, we laughed at the ignorance of our superiors to our plight. How little they understood the importance of creativity. How little they understood that it took a village to raise a corporate brand…much less 9 in-house and 12 private label. No wonder artists are so misunderstood. We are seen as islands when we are meant to be, and try to live as, villages.

Still, we knew what we had to do. We knew nothing changed in our department. We knew we would keep going as we were because it worked for us. We knew that the powers that be just needed labels to organize themselves. We knew that we could share and didn’t need the labels and titles of individual tasks. It was a hoop. A hoop to jump through and kill an hour of our time with while we waited for the rest of the company to catch up with us.

Until After the Wedding

Every word she spoke increased my sorrow, and made me realize just how bad my parents relationship had become. Not that I didn’t suspect it at some point to happen. When I was a teenager I noticed that my parents didn’t have much of a relationship, and despite my mothers efforts, my father was clueless and unfortunately more selfish than he would ever realize in his emotional ignorance.

My sorrow deepened even more as I recalled all the times I confided in my mother about concerns I had in my own marriage…and she responded with “You definitely married someone like your father.” No less, all the times she told me “You’re just like your father.”

Thank you mom. You’re so supportive.

The sense of hopelessness that it left in me made me consider that my marriage may end up looking like hers one day. Where my husband feels more like a roommate and less like a husband. Unfortunately hints of that have already started in my relationship, and to divulge my feelings to my husband and get an honest response out of him….I had to get him buzzed so we could talk about it without anyone saving face or telling lies a few nights ago last week.

The hardest part of being in my mothers situation is knowing that she was worth more long before my father was married to her. She was a teacher, with a good savings, paid well in her district, and a solid retirement plan. When my father got hold of the finances after they were married, he lost my mothers retirement and asked her not to go back to work until after we kids were out of the house. A closeted sexist and an unfortunate product of the era of his parents. He wasn’t counting on pregnancy and time to increase my mother’s health problems, and eventually he seemed to set himself up well for retirement and with life insurance policies on both he and my mother, but unfortunately no retirement plan for my mother, and no financial security either. Now she is unable to go back to work, and her health costs are taking them both for all they’re worth…which oddly enough gives me a sense of comfort know my fathers poor decision making has not come without consequences to his actions. It’s just unfortunate that my mother has to lose her peace of mind and security in her marriage over his lacking.

I had been wise in asking my husband to keep our finances separate. A method that many family and friends had given me flack for. Saying that I was not being wise or truthful to my husband about our finances and that it wasn’t right of me as a wife to request it or withhold from my household. Still, my husband was kind enough to agree to it. We each put what we can into our joint account, and we each do what we can to keep our own savings and checking accounts in line. If I’m broke, it is only my fault and no one else’s. No one can financially abuse me. I can choose what I want to invest in or not.

Still, financial abuse is not he only concern my parents relationship has caused me to be afraid of. My father, will sell nothing of his own, but often suggest selling things of my mothers to make ends meet. He will often be distant or removed emotionally and not have any kind of romantic attachment to my mother when he doesn’t feel like it. His moods swing and she falls victim to his coldness, not that he cheats or physically hurts her…but he neglects her…something I have noticed ever since I was old enough to become observant. All attributes I can see great potential of in my own relationship. Which makes me increasingly afraid.

Still I fight so hard to remind myself that my husband is not my father. He tried to ask me how I’m doing. He tries to take care of me. Even if he’s feeling distant he never pushes me away if I attempt to emotionally approach him. He may struggle with words, but he admits that. He asks for affirmation. He asks for my respect when he feels he is not getting it. He never makes unreasonable demands.

Still, we are young both in age and marriage…and so much has yet to happen.

Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.

Not Ready for Monday

A week long struggle with depression and stress at work ended with a coworker being fired Friday mid shift. Stunned by the sudden unexpected event and at least two weeks behind on just about everything, my coworker and I (the only two in for that day after other coworker was fired) ended up having to just call it a day. Both of us had plans afterward and the former coworker was supposed to be the one to stay late. Not that we planned on getting any work done if we stayed because with the shock we just had no idea what to do with ourselves.

Since leaving work Friday afternoon when my shift was over, I’ve had nothing but anxiety about the whole situation. Another coworker of ours has been gone because his father-in-law passed away. His two weeks of absence has probably been stressful enough , and now coming back to work, he’s going to be met with a workload a mile high and a coworker no longer with us that has been there since the beginning with him. None of this is going to go over well with him. He’s moody enough having not had losses in his life. I have a feeling this week is not going to be his week, and I’m afraid of the backlash me and my other coworker will be met with when he finds out.

So this weekend has been tainted with my anxiety in every moment. At the State Fair with friends, I had little to nothing to say, because my heart kept dropping every time I considered how quickly Monday morning was coming. In church this morning I found comfort in the sermon, about how God is with us in everything like he was with Esther, but still my anxiety was so high I couldn’t help but know the impending doom is coming. Yes, God is with us in all things, but that doesn’t mean it’s all easy, it just means God is there to show you what is next if you trust and obey, and for me…what was next is emotionally preparing for things to go badly, because it’s always better to assume that it will go badly, and to hope that there was some kind of pleasant surprise if it doesn’t.

After church I cleaned the whole house, made dinner (even though my husband is not home for dinner because he works the closing shift), and I called my mother to see how she was and try to get outside my own head, but even after all that….I feel so unprepared for Monday morning. I don’t want it to come, and at the same time I want it to have already been so I can say it was gotten over with and I survived it.

Heavy Things

I hesitated at the time, but when I saw her crying the Empath in me has to ask if she was okay. She wasn’t, of course. She just found out some aweful news about her brother and she began her mourning the moment she heard it and hadn’t really stopped since. Another tragedy had struck her family and life and so shortly after the passing of her father too. Now her brother was dying and she had only questions with senseless answers and useless consolations.

I told her that I felt sorry for her situation and affirmed that it really did suck. I knew nothing I could say would change it. It wasn’t worth trying to find the silver lining. There isn’t one when death and dying feels so final.

I was tired already from the night before. A friend had called me with his own personal crisis and he didn’t know what to do. After our phone call I struggled to fall asleep, worrying, knowing I could do nothing to help, but worrying all the same. Then there I was listening to my coworker pour out her heart over her brother’s diagnosis.

Its difficult being an empath. You want to love people, but loving people means hurting a lot all the time, because life is so full of heavy things and you feel with them a lot and want to help them lift the heavy load.