Phew! The big Christmas Art Market has come and gone. And, after averaging three hours sleep per night for the past couple of weeks to meet the deadline, I can now get some quality snooze time. Hopefully.
Lately, I've been working towards change.
This was the final time I would sell my ceramics.
For quite some time, anyway. One can never really say, "never".
Earlier this year, I developed a chronic lung condition which was, I believe, attributed to working with clay and glazes - especially as no other determining factors were involved.
Many ceramic/pottery materials can present serious health problems if/when used in less than ideal environments, and contain irritants – too many to list – with varying levels of toxicity which can impair lung function… temporarily or permanently.
My lungs have always been the “weakest” part of an otherwise strong body, so upon reflection, I’m not surprised that they were compromised, and it was most evident after glazing sessions.
Other people can work with clay and associated materials for their whole lives without ill effects, but for me, the stricture and shortness of breath, continual watery gurgle and deep, upper chest pain on inhale were definite warning signs.
As a result, I’ve struggled with impaired breathing for most of this year.
Some days, I couldn’t manage the short walk to the letterbox and back without wheezing like a seventy five year old smoker with emphysema.
Going on outings, which required walking any distance, was dependent on how I felt on the day... although, let's face it, roses and chocolate are a very enticing reason to get out of the house :)
Months of dreading lying in bed due to the pain, whistling and persistent coughing, left me exhausted, distressed and depressed.
I knew I was in trouble.
Stern advice from doctors to cease, or put on hold, my “occupation”, had to be accepted - grudgingly.
And, I’m not good at capitulation on someone else’s terms…
Gradual wrapping up of an art I thoroughly enjoyed, and also made money from, weighed heavily on my heart these past months.
But, the inability to breathe without restriction scared me more.
The removal of irritant materials has seen an improvement. Although, I’m not out of the woods yet. My lungs are still compromised – with good days and bad.
I know that healing is going to take time. And, healing with herbs is a much longer route to take – but, I firmly believe, is the better one for myself, rather than relying on harsh pharmaceuticals. It’s my choice to make.
In the meantime, I’ve been so incredibly grateful that I am able to transition from one artists medium to another. And, still work in 3D.
The ability to use my hands to mould and shape is what had me giddy when I set out with ceramics, and I despaired at the potential future lack of motility.
Artists gotta make…
Although, textiles - furry or otherwise - is a completely different “animal”.
The challenge to cut, sew and successfully stuff something which doesn’t end up looking like a mis-shapen blob monster, has been a trial.
Growing piles of grotesque prototype heads filled the corner of my sewing room – now studio.
It’s all in the pattern. Get that first step wrong, and the final result could have you howling in tears of frustration.
And it did.
On many occasions.
Because I chose to design my own characters, and not work from someone else’s pattern.
Typical for me. Always the hard path, not the one of least resistance.
But, more rewarding in the long run.
When I posted about Neil Gaiman’s quote on making mistakes in January, I really didn’t know I was headed down a diverse road paved with tactile, soft, furry fabrics, and away from clay.
But, when I look at my creatures, as they cheekily stare back at me from their shelf, awaiting final flourishes, my heart melts. And I’m converted. Eager to explore the possibilities.
Seriously, if anyone had said to me five years ago, that I would be making teddy bears - albeit in a unique vintage style for adult collectors only, rather than the typical stare-eyed, ubiquitous, furred childrens' toy - I would’ve laughed until my stomach hurt.
It really didn't seem like something I was at all interested in.
It’s full of challenges.
Copper, Madeleine and George