Monday, September 22, 2008

The Root of All Progress

As I put together a last minute gift recently, I was reminded of a story that I read in The Right Stuff. The author tells the story of a man who was lazy so rather than do the simple thing, he did something that seems to the listener more complex. The story winds on into parable form to reach the inevitable conclusion that all progress comes about as the result of laziness.

The analogy with me starts from the fact that I do not like wrapping presents. The invitation to the party said to buy a little present and to have it "nicely wrapped." I have a friend who loves wrapping presents. She once persuaded me to volunteer with her at one of those charity events where you wrap presents for customers for a donation to charity. I have done many things because I could not say no. Perhaps that is another aspect of the lazy person's parable. At any rate, I went about the job workmanlike fashion--neat corners, not too much extra paper on the ends, and a pre-made bow as my piece de resistance. Voila! And then I looked over at my friend who was making the Mona Lisa of Christmas bows. I looked back at my own package, which was now looking decidedly frumpy. I learned (but quickly forgot) how to do a reasonable approximation of the Mona Lisa bow and even, under my friend's tutelage, got creative with ribbon.

On my own, I knew I was just not up to "nicely wrapped." I managed to duck the whole issue until the day before the party. Inspiration! I had a felted clutch bag that just needed a handle and perhaps a fastener and something on the front to match the theme of the party. Now I don't have wrapping paper and conventional ribbons, but I have a wonderful assortment of textile things. I plumped upstairs to my studio/playroom and found the purse. I also found dyed wool tops in the colours that I needed and collected my felting equipment.

With all this under my arm, I trotted down two flights of stairs to the kitchen and put the kettle on--this time for my "wrapping" rather than for me. Boiling water would give me a good hard felt. I spread out the wool tops, splooshed the water onto it and made a handle and fasteners. Soap, hot water, and friction in the kitchen might be scrubbing, which would be work. In this case, however, it was getting the wool to felt properly, so it was playing.

While I set those pieces aside to dry, I plumped up the stairs again to find my button boxes. I had the idea to decorate the front of the purse with buttons. I wanted a heart shape, so I scurried to find the heart stencil from another project and then dumped about a zillion buttons on to my work space looking for inspiration or buttons that matched or both. Sorting the buttons would have been work, but this was play.

I left the candidates and the runners up for the heart shape on the table while I stitched the handle on to the purse. To make sure the handle and the purse are well joined, I set my iron to steam and used a cloth to steam the purse into shape. Ironing is work, but this is more playing.

Finally I stitched buttons into place around the heart stencil and steamed the purse again so that all the elements were well and truly joined into the fabric and the shape of it all. And that is the lazy woman's answer to wrapping a present.

Below is a photo of the workshop where I learned to do felting. A bag of mine is on the right. Not the one in the story, but my first project.

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At 8:16 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

made me grin, partly with recognition. Sometimes creating a document from scratch for a very specific need feels completely like playing. I'd like to get to a point with cooking that it feels like playing.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, ms piggy, I am sure you recognize it "right fine" as said in local dialect. Yes, creating a doc from scratch can feel like that. Sometimes cooking for me is like that but only when I am cooking for myself--the added pressure of cooking for other people takes me out of the zone

At 3:51 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

wow, that sounds like fun! did you take a pic?

I gave up traditional 'nice' wrapping long ago. If I use paper at all it's probably a calendar I couldn't throw away or a gorgeous photo from a magazine.

No way anything as creative as what you just did!

At 7:41 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Alas, Hayden, I didn't take photo. I am just hopeless at folding paper. I went to workshop with an artist/papermaker and she shoed us how to make boxes out of flat sheets of paper--everyone else in the workshop got it, but I am still clueless after many many repetitions. I think I'd better stick to fabric.


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