Monday, January 23, 2012

making things for no reason

How time flies. Every so often I need to get away from the paper, pencils, pens, and paints but that rarely means I don't do anything. It would appear I have a compulsive personality. I know you probably already guessed that. Continuing with my recent interest in making small containers I spent the better part of a week working on this little thing - and it is little at 3½ inches in diameter and a bit more than 2 inches tall when looked at from the side.

Several weeks before we left Portland I realized I had to deal with the silk dyes I'd mixed for painting since they were all stored in glass jars and bottles that couldn't be packed for the move. I also had a lot of extra white silk pieces. So jar by jar and bottle by bottle I used up all the mixed colors. I wish now I'd taken a picture of my living room floor covered in newspaper, plastic sheets, and everything I could find to use as clotheslines to dry all the bits. It's pretty funny in retrospect. Once they'd all been dried, steamed, washed, dried again and ironed I ended up with a large number of brightly hued scraps for future projects. So here is one of them - cut, stitched, padded, beaded, and every inch was a puzzle to ponder. The inside top is the opposite side of the flower on the front. The inside bottom is padded thick red silk.

I did happen to learn about someone far more motivated than me. Have you ever heard of Baldassare Forestierre? In 1906 he bought land near Fresno CA where he hoped to start a farm. Unfortunately, the land was too dry but rather than give up the idea he began digging. Over the course of the next 40 years he carefully carved out 10,000 square feet of underground living space that included living rooms, studies, bedrooms, a chapel, a fish pond, and a network of gardens, trees and trellises all by hand and without architectural training. He'd been a subway digger in New York. The caverns are supported by Roman arches, columns and domes - many of which are capped by skylights to let in the light. He used only a pick and a shovel and worked at it in his spare time. Now that's what I call true dedication.

I've moved too many times to manage that particular devotion but I appreciate the hearts of those whose happiness lies in making the world just a little more beautiful for no particular reason at all.

Why not?


  1. I am awed by how you can create such a unique expression on such a small face made of fabric. I will have to show this photo of your box to my mother when I see her this summer. She too is amazingly talented and will appreciate your handywork and your creativity very much.

    I love the story of the man who dug himself into an oasis. Inspiring.

    love, love

  2. Beautiful! You have abundant patience and sense of beauty.

    Love the story of the digging of an underground home, which reminds me a little of Nek Chand's Rock Garden of Chandigarh though it is above ground. And the cartoon is perfect: makers and destroyers.

  3. Why not is right. That underground space is incredible. You find the most interesting things.

    Now I'm wondering why you need a reason to make things. Surely the act of creating is its own reward. What you show us is full of beauty and whimsy. For that, we're lucky.

  4. gina - It's so nice that you like it enough to want to share it with your mother. My paternal grandmother was also very skilled in fabric arts. I've often wondered if I inherited some of her talent.

    Wasn't that a great story? The link has some remarkable details.

    marja-leena - Thanks for the sweet compliment - patience is likely my main talent but that's not something to be sneezed at these days, is it?

    I just looked up Nek Chand's Rock Garden and there certainly is a similarity of purpose and concept with Forestierre. There are others too I've run across which I may write about in future. Thanks for the tip.

    lisa - Well, if I can't live in Hobbiton maybe I could move my stuff to Forestierre.

    Of course, making things is its own reward but it's also very nice to share our work, isn't it?

  5. susan, that box is absolutely lovely - the expression on your little friend's face is pricelessly amused (and amusing!)

  6. I feel much safer that you used up the contents of all those jars before you moved.

    But wait, making the world more beautiful for no particular reason at all? Where's the cost-benefit in that?

  7. that's amazing...both your little box and the man who built his city in, of all places, fresno! i love your creation, she's very sweet and looks to be gorgeously wrought. i have no doubt at all. ;) and i love the tininess of it too. can only imagine how difficult that must have been. a tad OCD, eh? ;)

    it's lovely to ponder people willing to work hard just make the world a little nicer-fresno could sure use it and he must have agreed. xoxox

  8. cr - Thanks! I'm quite pleased with her myself.

    randal - You know me - always doing my part :-)

    linda - There were a number of times I felt like my fingers were just too big for the job. I'm guessing Fresno wasn't so ugly in 1906 when Forestierre arrived there. Thank goodness he made one beautiful thing for that place.

  9. I appreciate the hearts of those whose happiness lies in making the world just a little more beautiful for no particular reason at all.

    Which would describe you exactly. Your creative spark comes out in all that you set your hands to I see.

  10. Hi Susan
    Another lovely item from a talented artist – I also notices that as a consequence of the intervention of Crowe (your previous posting) and Wikipedia, US lawmakers have stopped the anti-piracy legislation.
    Best wishes

  11. laikin - Thank you, my friend. I believe the same applies to everyone for whatever they do for the sheer enjoyment.

    lindsay - I'm glad you like it. There's still a ways to go to stop those who would shut down the internet as we know it.

  12. Why not, indeed! You may have moved about, but you definitely make the world a more beautiful place. I swear, your story about dying all the scraps is one of the most priceless things I've read about! You are so amazing. And this gorgeous, she is wonderful.

    Wonder who owns the Fresno dug-out world now. It should be a monument to creativity.

  13. lydia - There are definitely many times when I wish I had a garden to plant come spring but since I don't have spot to call my own it's nice to have something I can do. Glad you like her as well. It really was pretty funny seeing my tiny laundry lines all over the living room floor.

    From what I read I believe the Forestierre site is still run and taken care of by his descendants. That's nice.