10/27/08

what it feels like

When I was a little I found myself wanting to be near whatever project my dad was working on. His father was a carpenter and while my dad never thought he did anything right or good enough (duh that's where that comes from), he did trudge on. I'm not sure, but I think he did these household projects more to save money and to have something to do rather than some innate love of creating. I can recall his dread of redoing a room or having to scrape the paint off the house to repaint it. He did some pretty creative things, rebuilding the alleyway garage, building a picnic table that went around a tree as well as making a rec room in the once dank, dark basement.

My father never let me help or get involved (at least I have no memory of it) and I would sit on ladders and watch him. I would sit on the ground and watch. I always wanted to be near whatever it was he was doing. I loved going into the basement and looking at his dusty musty shelves filled with tools and baby jars of nails and screws. It wasn't until I was in my mid 30's that I even conceived of buying and using any tools. I had a gay couple who were massage clients, they were the first women I ever knew who actually built things and knew how to use tools. It occurred to me that I could install locks, windows and attempt to fix plumbing problems myself (with their help and guidance). I didn't get into anything very serious and usually couldn't do most things because my arms and hands were too weak and injured from all that massage work. It didn't stop me from trying but it kept me from accomplishing much. I think I bought a hand drill but didn't even understand how to put the bit in let alone use it. Can you believe it????

So fast forward to now, just a few years ago I started getting and using tools. I'm still excited each and every time I go cut, grind, chop or drill something. I get jittery and happy like a dog who knows he is going for a walk. Even just cutting a board in half feels like magic to me! I guess that is a sign that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. For all the ick, the inconvenience of how my tools are stuffed in the corner of the garage, for the antiquity of some of my tools and their less than perfect performance, for all the noise and grit and grime, I always feel like I am inventing the wheel each time I go use them. I suppose a painter feels the same about paint and colour, but do they get excited about the tools they use? Does a textile artist get excited about a sewing machine each and every time? (i'm guessing yes on that one) For the little I use paint I also get excited when I sit down and guess which colors to mix to match a bauble that I'm working with. It feels like science and magic happening each and every time but dare I say I don't shake in anticipation over what brush to paint with. Sometimes I wish I had my shit together earlier in life, I often wonder if I could have been an architect as I am fascinated by how things get built. Guess I will just keep plugging away and see where my tools take me.

Whats it feel like when you work with your mediums' tools?

5 comments:

Kim Hambric said...

I was always forced to watch myself. Not going to let that happen with my daughter. She can use a screwdriver better than I can.

I have a fear of tools.

As a textile artist I have a fear of my sewing machine. It has tasted blood and seemed to like it. It also likes to break needles and send shards toward my eyeballs.

This textile artist DOES NOT get excited about a sewing machine. This one gets excited about paints, carving tools (wait TOOLS I can use) for creating rubber stamps, beads. I do not get excited about machinery or scissors or other quilting tools.

What the heck is my problem?

Nellie's Needles said...

Tools have always excited me, too. I can browse hardware stores and tool catalogs any old time. The toolbox in our house has always belonged to me ... not my husband. It pleases me that both of our sons feel the same as I do and that they are highly proficient with their tools.

As for the tools and gadgets I use to create art quilts, I like ALL of them. I love beautifully crafted and sharp scissors, the beauty and good fit of fine thimbles, well made, high quality needles are much appreciated. Keeping my sewing machines in good running condition is an ongoing necessity that I don't mind. I like being able to open my older machines and get at the moving parts. The complexity of the computerized ones frustrates me because I cannot get at their working parts.

Karen said...

Though I really love my sewing machine I cant say that I get all goosey and excited over it. However I can not go past any artists materials store without going in and just oogling all the goodies! even the ones I dont ever intend to use! Paper,paints,brushes...oh my!! You would think that I feel that way about fabric too but not so much. I just buy what I need when I need it or paint up a section of plain white fabric with the colors I want. Tools to me are just that, tools. I am quite comfortable around hammers and saws etc. But the welding stuff...err no, I would most likly hurt myself!

Lisa said...

I love my sewing machine and get excited about using it. The one I bought 15 years ago is the only one I want to use - so I keep buying used ones on ebay of the same model from 1993 incase the original one needs parts or dies.

I also love my rotary cutters - I find them totally fascinating - a pizza cutter for fabric - how cool is that?

Chelle said...

There is no bigger thrill than working with a tool that does exactly what I intend it to do. And when I figure out how to use a tool in a new way it's downright exciting.