Creating something new

April 04, 2019

Creating something new

Recently, I took up weaving rugs and chair pads out of old clothing that my family had worn out or outgrown. It was surprising, when I really stepped back, to recognize how much we had but weren’t using. We’re surrounded by advertising that promises more, more quickly, and cheaper. Why painstakingly disassemble old clothing and reassemble it into something new when instead you could just go to a store, pull out a credit card, and get exactly what you need in a fraction of the time?

It comes down to a belief. I believe in handwork: that making something builds a connection that buying it can’t. We can’t all become blacksmiths and potters and weavers and carpenters, of course. What we can do is find the spaces in our lives that make handmade possible. I chose the possibility of old cloth, made new.

As I prepared the loom, readied the cloth, and wove everything together into a whole, I realized that what I was really after was deeper than recycling or reusing. I was instead pushing back against the idea that things are fundamentally disposable: meant to be used up and thrown away. My family’s laughter and sense of adventure and ill-fated drips of ice cream and grass-stained knees are all threaded into the clothing that we wore. Disassembled and rewoven, they become part of something new - something that still holds all that weight and joy.

I still buy plenty of things at the store. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to make everything by hand - and even if there were, there’s a balance to be had between creating and enjoying the time we have together. At the same time, though, I’m always looking for new opportunities to create, to weave old memories and traditional skills together in a way that suits our modern world.

Farmer and cultivator