First, over on Facebook, I finally launched a regular FB page for the Slow Cloth community. Please take a look and migrate over, if you're currently in the FB Slow Cloth group -- and if you're not, please visit the new page and consider giving it a Like. I've had trepidation about this but, you know, go medium-size or go home. Facebook's changes to the group format were not good, and there was no getting around that. So we'll see what happens. I'd still like to launch a web site separate from Facebook, but honestly, I have a lot of competing priorities these days. In any case, I'm observing a lot of burgeoning activity in the textile world lately; new magazines, for example - some I think will be very good, others not so much.
As I mentioned in the last post, there are many people in many fields adopting the "slow" descriptive. I think in general that's good, though I worry that slow will be the new green - essentially meaningless and devolving into a marketing term. I'm glad I attempted to give Slow Cloth a thorough definition in this blog.
A few years later, looking back on what I wrote, the idea of sustainability and environmental and social ethics needs more emphasis. The world is in very bad shape, and textile artists and entrepreneurs should be leaders in embracing an agenda of social change, even if you start small. If you've never bought a certified organic fabric or yarn, why not buy just one yard this year (I especially like Harmony Art fabrics) or skein? Make a small donation to The Sewing Machine Project or buy something from BaBa Blanket or Coleccion Luna, or give to Women for Women International. Teach someone to sew.
One of the values of Slow Cloth is the idea of striving for mastery. There's no shame at all in being a beginner, but I sometimes think we're losing the idea of getting better at something. And from my long-in-the-teeth perspective, I can tell you that it might take a lifetime to get even a little better at anything that matters -- loving someone, sewing clothes, traveling well, weaving, calligraphy, designing textiles, practicing yoga, treating people with kindness, knowing when to be silent and when to speak up. I came across this very good article on mastery and why it matters today, at a site called Accidental Creative.
I started an introductory class in botanical illustration this week. The Denver Botanic Gardens has a good program. I'm not sure why this particular discipline appeals to me so much right now, but it's partly because it asks you to work at it. We drew for five hours yesterday, basic beginning drawing stuff, but in a rigorous way.
It was so refreshing. In a world where too many amateurs are proclaiming themselves experts (as writers, artists, editors, curators, politicians, whatever) without paying any dues at all, or ever learning any real skills, it's time to reclaim the idea of improvement (I can hear my astrologer friends saying, yep, must be Virgo season). And though botanical art can become very expressive, like many textile traditions, it's coloring inside the lines -- there's a right way to do it. I think that the discipline of carefully observing nature is going to serve me well in the other things that I do. And last but not least, it's nice to go do something where no computer or Internet is involved, at least historically, and the gardens are a very beautiful place to visit in the late Colorado summer.
So, onward we go into September. What would you like to improve or even master, in yourself or the world?
Photographs of plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens by Elaine Lipson.