faffing around

Faffing around is a bit different from simply messing around, for me at least.   Messing around is a bit like what Tom does in How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen (by Russel Hoban and illustrated by Quenton Blake).  It is perhaps my all-time favourite children’s book.  You see Tom’s fooling around, thought to be a senseless waste of time that looked too much like play to his aunt, Miss Fidget Wonkham-Strong (who wears an iron hat and takes no nonsense from anyone), was very useful when it came to challenges.

Similarly my messing around has always been playful but usually has a purpose.  It may look decorative but more often than not has a purpose . . . well the garden sculpture that blew down in a gale twice, not so much, and maybe not the pumice stone carvings although you could use them to get all that hard skin off your heels if you wished.

Small carved pumice stones.

Small carved pumice stones.

And all those stones I covered make great door stops.

A stone from the local river covered in knotted harakeke/flax, embellished with beads.

A stone from the local river covered in knotted harakeke/flax, embellished with beads.

Faffing around is messing around with no end purpose in mind.  So now, having signed up for Swathed in Stitch with the wonderfully talented Karen Ruane, I have this lacy stuff (for want of a better word) and no earthly use for it.  Yes it was a bit of fun and with some practise I could make something rather lovely, but I sort of don’t do rather lovely without a purpose any more that I do tea-stained faux Victoriana.  You know what I mean, all that delicate embroidery that takes forever and looks gobsmackingly beautiful.  Already I’m trying to break some rules in what I’m learning (can’t help myself really) and stretch boundaries . . . and I like it!  But what the hell am I going to do with it?

Machined lace . . .  with a feather

Machined lace with a feather . . . or an attempt at a feather.

I can't take any credit for the starfish, but I do like the foamy, delicate edge I achieved here . . . but what will I do with it?

I can’t take any credit for the starfish, but I do like the foamy, delicate edge I achieved here (by accident but next time on purpose) . . . but what will I do with it?

Until I have a reason to do more, I probably won’t.   I’m sort of thinking myself into a hole . . . actually lots of holes . . . with beads.

Machined lace on muslin with quartz beads.

Machined lace on muslin with quartz beads.  There are another four holes to edge and weave into but why?

You might well ask “Why are you taking the class?”  I’m taking it so I can learn about design, stitches, techniques, materials and watch an expert at work . . . and then I want to incorporate it into work that is more along the lines of Jude Hill‘s yet mine, not a poor copy.   Did I mention I’m doing a class with her?  Small Journeys?   Small Journeys is different . . . it’s like getting to sit beside her and listen to her process, how she thinks about a piece in development.  And have you seen her work? Check our her photostream on Flickr.

Now don’t get me wrong, all of Karen’s work is useful and so is Jude’s . . . it’s just that me and an embroidery hoop?  I used one for the very first time today and it felt weird, like I was channeling someone else.  I’ve just got to face it, as much as I think Karen’s work is divine, Junko Oki is much more cup of tea, sort of messy . . . and I do like to mess around.

So that’s why I feel like I’ve been faffing around for the last two or three days . . . and don’t go and give me the ‘it doesn’t have to be useful’ or the ‘you’re too much of a perfectionist’ lectures.  I’ve heard them before.    If I could just work out how I can use all this prettiness . . . or how I can make it more . . . edgy?   (Insert a very big sigh here.)

12 thoughts on “faffing around

    • Thank you Mo . . . admiring the work of others, it’s bound to influence but working through that makes my way clearer. I recognise that the last image with the beads is much more my style. And while I could bemoan that I’m still searching for my own way in various arts and crafts after all these years, it’s only recently that I’m taking it seriously.

  1. edgy? useful? If you don’t like using a hoop work it in a way that pleases you…lay it on something else and stitch through both pieces, handle this in a manner that is natural to YOU.
    Great post Wendy, food for thought. The main thing, I feel, is go with what YOUR heart is telling you.

    • I’m sure I will find my own way Karen. Sometimes I find when I stick at something that I think isn’t ‘me’ it just evolves in unexpected ways. The lace is changing already and I think as an overlay for pages or bonded onto fabric on a cover it could look rather interesting.
      Oh, and using a hoop? It must be growing on me because I bought a better one! Mine was my mother’s and had no adjustment thingy on the outer ring and was rather deep so really awkward to use with the machine.

  2. I think, that is just the way it goes. Looking around , taking different classes – so you can try out other peoples ways to handle things. And then finding out how it feels to go this way. Mostly for me it doesn´t feel to fit but there are always some aspects that are interesting to follow. Sometimes it is only the technique sometimes some aspects of design, sometimes as in Judes classes a whole philosophie. I love faffing around as you call it. Beside that I love to have the time to do it without any purpose for me thats freedom. So why making all these things?
    My answer for me is: because I love it.

    • As a child my uncle called me Mucker, because I was always mucking around at something and it’s a habit that’s lasted all my life. And of course you’re right . . . taking classes always triggers new ideas and the develop unexpectedly sometimes. I guess I do what I do because I can’t help myself . . . and idea springs up and demands action! I must admit, now I have more time to play I’m getting better at having no end product in mind.

  3. Your faffing around end products could be rendered purposeful by buyers at the local market, this may also help with decluttering your office space and yard. Your art is a treasure in the making, numerous treasures. 😉

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