Making It

indian lamp 1

Lately I have begun to make lampshades.
I have no idea what I will do with them all; they are bulky objects and quickly fill the airing cupboard. Find a market one day? A market a million miles away. On the metaphorical moon.
I don’t know why lampshades. Why glass before that?

Because I needed something tangible to do when the words failed; you can give a shade away, or a bowl, but you can hardly present a person with a piece of writing that didn’t sell. Here. I wrote this for you. Oh. Thanks. They’d stammer, wondering what on earth they were going to do with 1200 words on Why Multitasking Isn’t Good for You. Writing that doesn’t sell is filed invisibly in the ether. Forgotten. A platter gathers dust on the sideboard until somebody says, ‘did you make that’. And your admission that you did proves you don’t just sit here in (not so) splendid isolation doing nothing.

You see, even in the absence of anybody to buy the accumulation of stuff I craft, it makes me feel useful: the doing.
Until I began to play at creating, using my hands, I had imagined I would only find satisfaction in the cerebral. In the poring over research and plucking from it the necessary to deliver copy to an editor, in the piecing together of prose. But over the years, as commissions dried up, as time weighed heavier on idle hands, I realized that writing, especially when there was apparently no market for that anyway, wasn’t going to be enough. Indeed it only endorsed the feeling of redundancy. I was somewhat startled to discover that I, no artist (I cannot draw or sew or paint), could find some fulfillment , some occupation, in colour and shape and texture.
And I have noticed that it is precisely in the careful working with my hands that solace comes. Ant knew it would, it’ll be therapeutic, he said, which I dismissed as a platitude at first (I ought to have known better: my husband does not spew platitudes).


This week has been especially difficult and long and the hours very, very heavy and so, because I need to tick off the seconds and the minutes that finally add up to a single day, I have disappeared to my studio (a lofty word: an afterthought, a once store, stuck gracelessly to the end of the house), my space, cluttered with kilns and tools and tiles of glass and bottle of glue and ambitious books about all the things I aspire to make and it is there, as I apply attention to cutting and measuring and concentrated folding and tucking so that my paper and fabric take shape as a shade, there that the peace descends. The focus on a line, a pattern, the blades of my scissors as I shear material just so and my head empties and the afternoon slips past. I only know it’s nearly gone when the dogs begin to snuffle impatiently at my feet because it’s time for a walk and I am astonished at the time; where did it go?. My making has massaged the difficult hours away and something like contentment is left; my husband was right. Therapy.
And I have something concrete to hold up to the light, to touch, to turn and examine for loose threads, something to show Ant when he comes home, look at what I made. And he will take the thing, a shade, a bowl, in his hands and scrutinize it for quality partly because he is a perfectionist like that but mostly because he knows that in the careful examination he will endorse my efforts as something that counts. Something important. Something that made my day matter.
Well done he says, and smiles.



11 Responses to “Making It”

  1. joannastevenson Says:

    You write, you design, you create … beautifully. Thanks for sharing this. Makes me wonder, if I had enforced isolation and solitude, would I find that I could be creative? I’ve never believed I had a creative bone in m body. But maybe …

  2. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    Those are beautiful lampshades – I’d buy them. You are lucky to be good at that kind of thing. I am so not crafty – I love the idea of creating things, but am hopeless at actually doing so. I am sorry the words didn’t sell – was it a piece of journalism, or something literary? Whichever, the editor is a fool!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you nappyvalley. I really didn’t think i was crafty. I had never owned a craft book, sewed a stick, painted a picture but I had to find something when the writing markets dried up. Journalism and something literary … pitches fall on deaf ears.

  3. Marie Says:

    Those are gorgeous – I would happily buy one.

    I am on the reverse trajectory as you – I used to craft (usually fiber, though I longed of mosaics) – but now it seems I cannot find the desire, and my eyesight has so deteriorated (I’m only 46). I still create I suppose; renovating a house now and then a garden. But I miss the days of curling up with a good project.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Marie. I’m sorry about your eye sight though. Renovating a house is a wonderful project, such permanence. I hope it’s your own?

  4. Lizzy Frizzfrock Says:

    It’s been a long time since I visited your blog. This post is lovely in it’s wording and with the lampshades. Who would have thought to make lampshades? I find myself in the position these days of trying to fill a gap, a space that until June was filled with my husband, our travels, just being. Something will come, I am hopeful, that will help to fill my days… the dogs are a great help. I enjoyed your post!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Lizzy. I can’t even remember why lampshades? Something will come, yes. And I agree, dogs are a great help. I cannot imagine what I’d do without mine.

  5. Was Living Down Under Says:

    Those lampshades are beautiful! And so is your writing. I’m always excited to see you’ve written something new.

    Can you not sell them on eBay or Etsy? Or is the post a problem?

    I’m not “artistic” either but then I think there is room in art for those of us who are more methodical in our approach. Those of us who are able to follow a process. I liked throwing pottery for that reason – it just required following a process. I was terrible at handbuilt pottery because it required some creativity to start.

    Try your hand at knitting or crochet – it’s all process driven 🙂 And blankets are easy to send in the mail!

  6. iotamanhattan Says:

    They are stunning. There must be a market for them.

  7. Kit Says:

    Lampshades are so what we’re in need of and yours are beautiful! Imagining you filling the car with them and driving across Africa to a market place in some far flung city – you need a magic carpet I think.

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