1. The longing to hand-make beautiful things has overtaken me recently. It was seeded some 4 years ago when I was gifted a deerskin medicine pouch by a friend in ceremony. She had learned to skin & tan the hide herself, working it until the tassels hung gently and the slipknot moved gracefully along its braided path.
2. Recently, I was given another miraculous gift – an anatomical drawing of a long-gestating moth carved into the broad side of a reishi mushroom, by a woman who also wove her own baskets. So enamoured was I, that I set about weaving my first grass basket for a sister on her wedding day.
3. Since music, writing and dreamwork are all ‘invisible’ arts, I have an inextinguishable thrill whenever I create a thing in 3D. In a more pronounced way, physical arts feel as if they go on to live a life of their own once they leave my hands.
4. When a dear friend sewed me a vibrant string of prayer flags for my birthday, into which she’d woven symbols and objects that were meaningful to our shared history, I finally understood why hand-making calls me so strongly. It isn’t just the long efforts to bring beauty into the world, honouring that which made us by creating as we have been created, but the story that is embedded in the work itself.
5. The songs of the Aborigines are actually maps of their landscape. An elder who has never been to a place can navigate their way there if they know the sequence of the song. Each word and rhythm represents a tree, stone, or curve in the earth, making a ‘songline’ which they can follow to their destination. Languages between tribes are not a barrier because the “melodic contour of the song describes the nature of the land over which the song passes.”
6. The Shipibo are one of the many indigenous tribes in Peru who, throughout history, have recorded their songs, or icaros, in elaborately embroidered geometric designs that correlate directly with nature.
7. Weaving, sewing and painting our stories & myths into the things we make is a way of keeping our culture alive. Heirloom is a compound word, with its roots in heredity + looming. Indeed, if even one generation is denied their inheritance, the story and the way home may be lost. As it is said in West Africa, “When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground.”
8. I set out earnestly on this path of hand-making, hoping one day to pass on things of beauty to the young ones in my life so they may find their way home across the songlines, as I have been found by those who have made beautiful things for me.