November 18, 2010

the ethics of my newest hobby

If I were asked to chose an adjective that most defines my domestic sensibility it would be utility.  As a woman of consistent goals, my household craft list was borne out of a desire to embrace utility - form without function or need just doesn't work for me. 
{image taken by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan @ Hancock Shaker Village in the early Autumn of 2009 and was published here.}

It began one morning when we lived in a cardboard house in the second coldest place in Japan. I was reading about shaker wall pegs on Apartment Therapy and that very same day my husband proposed nailing blankets to the wall to help insulate our uninsulated home.  It was a very Laura Ingalls Wilder moment in my life.  We opted to forgo the blankets, turn up the kerosene heater and just not worry about the energy waste in order to avoid the frost bite.

While poking fun at myself regarding the dyeing of pants I might have left the impression that I don’t like doing things like dyeing fabric. Or even crafting in general. I do. What I am not a fan of is my tendency towards rampant consumerism.

When I cook or create or shop or decorate or do, I like it best when I have a reason or else I have just submitted to my internal, always present, desire to eat, have or make {in a word, consume}.  It is tough for me to find balance between need and the glut of consumption.  Despite my reservations, I have begun to jot down my mental list of household projects.  All the while I try to channel my inner Shaker and try to focus on tasks that reflect the common sense of their crafts.

I try to re-purpose objects I already have.  I have also decided that all crafting I do should be cost effective.  I won't create something I already have, don't need or can acquire for less than I can make it.  These are principals that I employ in all that I do, so it's really just about being consistent with my limits.  For example, I don’t sew bags because I have them in abundance.

In the case of the pants, I bought each bottle of dye at a 50% discount and spent less than $10.00 – a better alternative than cutting up the recently purchased pants for rags and not replacing them. {Which is what had been decided.} The use of a cup of kosher salt however was ridiculous. It was all I had on hand. I have since stocked myself with affordable salt for just such emergencies.

1 comment:

julochka said...

i struggle greatly with the consumer thing. this year, when i had solemnly promised myself and the entire blogosphere that i wouldn't buy anything (other than food, obviously) in 2010, it was the year in which we acquired a house, a car, an iPad and a new MacBook Air. and while it's arguable we NEEDED a house and a car (our old one was just shy of 500,000km and died a sputtering death), i wish i'd been able to keep my vow not to consume. i think we're so programmed to do so that it's very difficult not to. i too wish i could summon laura or my inner shaker.


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