Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts on Domesticity

Yesterday I got the fortune cookie promos finished and sent off to Dirty Ass Soaps for her promo bags for a craft fair. It took me several hours to fold all the cookies up. I sat on the couch and just started throwing them into a finished pile as I was folding. Here was the end result.

Yesterday was an odd day. Dan was home from work again because he was not feeling well, and I was trying to do quiet work around the house and not run the sewing machines to save him from further headaches. I am not used to having to change plans or tip toe around, so I did some things I usually don't let myself do during "working hours". In the spirit of quiet I did some more reading of Jane Brocket's book The Gentle Art of Domesticity. There is a passage that I keep going back to and rereading as I think it sums up why I think my life as a stay-at-home wife is so valuable. This is what she says, and bear with me, it is a long quote:

"Just as many aspects of domesticity are often derided as old-fashoned, quaint or downright useless, so the skills and practicalities associated with it have fallen out of fashion. Despite the efforts of many contemporary knitters, quilters, stitchers, crocheters, crafters and bakers, the fact remains that the gentle arts are frequently regarded as mildly eccentric, touchingly nostalgic and outmoded. Why on earth would anyone prefer to hand-stitch a quilt when you can buy a perfectly good one in a shop? Why knit a pair of socks when they are so easy and cheap to buy these days? Why bake a cake when the store shelves are groaning with ready-made treats?
The answer lies int he not-so-revolutionary idea of seizing the means of production. It's as simple and as complex as that. A modicum of practicality in the domestic space empowers us to make our own choices about what we create and eat, rather than handing over control of our homemaking to profit-making companies. It may sound surprisingly radical, and it is. Embedded in the gentle arts is a slyly subversive streak that encourages free thought, individuality, creative self-expression, imaginative thought processes and not a little self-determinism. All this, and a great deal of pleasure, too."

I could not have come up with a better explanation myself. I have always felt like a rebel of sorts when I get to introduce myself to others as a housewife. People often wonder what it is I do all day and how do I keep myself fulfilled and happy. I find that my life is more fulfilling now than it ever was when I was working in the high impact athletic training field, and it is also more enjoyable to me than teaching, although I do still love teaching. (Hence the 826 Valencia tutoring I do.) I also like the notion of subversiveness that Jane Brocket talks about. I am bucking the system by not trying to "have it all," and I am perfectly fine with that. In many ways, I have found more freedom and creativity by working in the home and running a home based business than I ever did in a more traditional work place. My jam from now on is coming from my kitchen, and I am trying to buy less and hand make more. Thanks Jane for making me feel more comfortable,confident, and valuable in my choice to be a home business based Domestic Artist.

On that note, I made a leather thimble for myself last night. It turned out really well. Leave it to Threads magazine to come up with a this great tutorial Today I plan on making myself a new skirt if I can get the shearing foot to work on the surger. The last time I tried this it did not work so well, but that was also right before I found out one of the parts on the machine had broken. Today I will give it another try. Also, I am going to work on that cross stitch belt some more now that I have a trusty leather thimble. I also have to find music and start the choreography for my April 11th show. More on that when it gets close


Anonymous said...

That's a ton of fortune cookies... what are they made of?

Fabulous Pants said...

They are made of felt and wire. They are fun to make, in small batches. This batch at 267 was a bit much. :D

Anonymous said...

I love the quote! I totally agree. Though I also wish that there was more of a sense that domestic arts could exist outside of the role of a housewife--not because of anything against that role, but because it's tiring to have people constantly question why you I do these things when it's "just me." Us single girls can be domestic too! :)

Fabulous Pants said...

I totally agree that there is room for everyone under the umbrella of domestic artist. Whether you work in the home solely or out of the home, male or female, I think that all who perform the domestic arts should be appreciated for these skills. I just hope that they can reclaim their rightful place of value in modern society regardless of who the particular artist is. :)