Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tick Tock Tick Tock
I have been thinking about time. As always, I don’t have enough of it. Either ironically or serendipitiously depending on your point of view, it was while I was taking apart an old kimono that time as a subject entered my consciousness. I was admiring the handstitching that I was pulling out, and marveling at the skill and patience of the original seamstress. In Japan, they take the kimonos apart for washing. It’s hard to imagine a Western sewer constructing a garment, knowing that it would be taken apart, by machine, let alone by hand.
And I thought about how our culture basically doesn’t allow for this slow and careful making of things. There just isn’t time, and our time is worth too much. Most of us can only afford to buy things that come from countries where time isn’t as valuable, where people earn pennies a day. As a fibre artist, I have regularly made things from absolute scratch – buying a fleece from a farmer, washing, spinning and dyeing it, and knitting or weaving it into cloth. People’s minds boggle – often their first comment on seeing something I’ve made is “How long did that take you?” It simply is impossible to charge enough for what I make – usually it is a gift.
So I think about the world I live in and what it would take for me, (and the many other crafters and artists I know who struggle to be able to support themselves from their work, and who often have to take other jobs which lessen the amount of time they have to do really important stuff) to be able to live from what I create. I think I would have to move to a 3rd world country.
Now, one of the threats that we face in the west, as a direct result of our valuable time and scurrying busy lives, is that if we slow down and do what is needed to save the planet from dying, our standard of living may drop to that of, perhaps, a third world country!! Heck, I don’t have to move at all.
In fact, by voluntary simplicity and by living a lifestyle that is lighter on the planet, I may actually become richer in that commodity that I crave so much – time. Without a car, I can knit while I ride the bus. By having Spud deliver my groceries, I can spin some yarn. By making my own clothes, I satisfy my creativity and reduce my reliance on cheap imported goods.
And this leads me to think about something else. The Industrial Revolution began in the textile industry - the spinning jenny, power looms, the water frame and the flying shuttle moved textile creation from the home to the factory. There are many economic and technologically-based reasons why this is so, but I think one of the most powerful, which is still true today, is the simple basic truth that we need to clothe ourselves. As I have said before, we relate to textiles on a daily basis, in the most intimate way. If something so fundamental to our existence could lead the Industrial Revolution, why not a revolution of a different nature? One of simplicity, of creativity, of respect for ourselves and the planet.
The time is now!