Saturday, 3 December 2011

March of the hedgehogs

 My son and I moved to County Clare three years ago expressly so he could go to the Steiner school. (They are few and far between in Ireland). I so wanted that for him... I'm not sure I ever imagined how much it would bring to me, on many levels, and the countless quiet ways in which we have grown towards the ethos, and settled so naturally and comfortably within its folds.
  A whole new chapter of my life, of our lives began with this move. 
Marked by a very tough first year of missing the Dingle Peninsula we'd left behind, the stunningly beautiful coast and good, old friends. To top it all I was driving a car independently for the first time, something I had avoided 'til then, something that scared me. Initially I felt land-locked and isolated. But never once considered going back.
After that first transitional year passed, my boy had come of age to be welcomed into the kindergarten. A whole new like-minded community seemed to open up before me, a feeling that has only deepened since. How blessed do I feel. 

I arrived here as a painter. I had not yet been touched by the world of craftwork, the wonders of wool, of felting needles and embroidery thread. All that changed with my association with the school, initially through my enthusiasm and commitment to the parents craft group and eventually through our woollygatherings and my own personal journey with it all, beavering away, overcoming blocks and limiting beliefs like 'I can't sew' and 'I don't know how to knit'. It completely renewed my love of learning...I now find myself a part-time handwork teacher at the school and learning ever more. It has enriched my life, incredibly so.

 Knitting needles lovingly crafted by the children in the first of our handwork lessons, yarn   
kindly gifted to us by one of the teachers

I used to feel an element of guilt that I did so little art with my small child at home. It amazed me how people presumed, that as I was an artist it was a natural activity for us at home. But it wasn't at all. For I felt so desperate to make my art, and child-free time was so so limited and precious, that it was a separate thing for me. Gladly, that too has changed. Now my son is older and (most of the time!) I'm more relaxed about creativity happening at home, it seems to happen quite naturally. Who knows exactly why or how or when these small changes come. But through osmosis...witnessing fleeting scenes of the children crafting at the kindergarten, working around the table with other moms showing each other how to make things, standing before a group of children learning how to help them learn, how to knit or crochet. Small changes bring great changes, that I have seen.

The annual Advent Fair happened on the day that I write this, and its a funny thing for me because I feel like I've never really experienced this wonderful event and all its child-centred ventures, as I am a stall holder on the day. My kindly family come quite a way to join in the day's activities and care for smallie. 
And gladly I run my stall in one little area. Leading up to this year I really wondered, questioned, doubted whether I could pull it off, if it was worth it, whether during an already busy time it would send me over the edge into total overwhelm. I am prone to feeling overwhelmed on the average day! And wouldn't it be lovely to spend the day wandering with my own child..? Yet I couldn't seem to let it go : ) It traditionally provides a timely boost to my income at a spendy time of year. But there's much more to it than that. The work I make meets a a niche market. I know all you artists and craftworkers out there can relate to the deep feeling of wonder and satisfaction when you see someone walk away from your table with a bag containing something you've handmade, that they've handpicked. 

There is something very meaningful in being part of those who, like the wonderful parents craft group, provide natural toys for children that encourage imaginative play. Not easy to find in these parts and not always affordable.

All told, between the jigs and the reels what with teaching and other commitments, I found myself with all of two weeks to make new work in the lead-up to this. And out of the blue I was smacked with a brutal toothache that lasted a week.Yikes! Funny how that happens. Work began nonetheless, with the making of a community of hogs ; ) I wrote about these in a previous post. And with my partner at sea for these few weeks, I had wondered what would smallie do all this time as I beavered away all the rainy weekend under my work lamp. Why, he did what all six year olds are wont to do. Imitate : ) He got busy with his own pom pom production. 

He matter-of -factly moved a small table right beside mine and asked for a lamp of his own. And when he'd made a pom pom in every size his holders would allow, he went off and played contentedly with them : )

 I try to be cool about mounds of coloured wool moving in and taking over our living room as smallie and I dine off the very end of our long table and work takes over the rest ; )

There was magic about on that fair day, smallie had a brilliant time with loved ones, and me..? I was pretty much in my element : ) With me hard-earned christmas money in my pockets
I am already dreaming up next years stock ; )

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be posting more photos of some of the rest of the new work I made, thankfully mostly gone now.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who visited and supported my stall that day.
And to all of you reading this. Wishing you a wonderful Advent season. M 


  1. Wonderful thoughts, thanks a lot, cheers Marie

  2. This is a very special post. I feel so happy for you, and your journey. Its not always a given that I feel a sense of sympathetic joy, but with you I always do, Maybe its the artist and Mom in me understanding a little of your road.

    You are doing a wonderful work, in school, home and here.... Your words just flow so beautifully. xx

  3. I love this post. Something you've said resonates with me. I love how you're incorporating more art with your son now that he's older. I was a Textile Design major and after getting married, 4 children and homeschooling, I found that art was the least 'done' in our home. I think most people assumed that that would be the first thing taught. I did feel guilt about it in many ways too. Now that my children are older and aren't getting paint or glue everywhere and can be trusted with good art supplies, I find that we do more art. And yet...not enough.

    Those hedgehogs are so sweet!

  4. So lovely to get these comments, thanks ladies!
    I love hearing from other artist mamas and grandmamas, so comforting to get that reflection.And so inspiring to me to see what all three of you are doing and making, in the home and alongside family... Blessings M x

  5. i feel as the other ladies do here mia, this post has even brought a tear to my eye as i remember having so many of the same feelings and happenings in my own life.
    i am reading and wishing you had an etsy shop where i could purchase something lovely that you've made, or better, that i lived nearby and could have been a happy customer. LOVE the hedgehogs.
    i really seem to have gotten caught up in your blog this morning. what a wonderful way for me to begin the new year.
    xxx lori

    p.s. your boy is beautiful.