A few weeks ago we traveled to Keokuk, Iowa to attend Eagle Days, a small celebration of migrating bald eagles, Native American culture and river history(Keokuk sits alongside the mighty Mississippi).
In addition to live bird presentations, wood carvings and bald eagle sightings, there were several vendors selling everything from dream catchers to traditional beaded Native American jewelry, to pop corn, but my favorite was a gentleman(Flint Spirit) selling flint knives, flint rocks, and elk antler and bison bone jewelry. He and a friend were also chipping away at flint stones with pieces of bone, demonstrating their techniques as people inquisitively buzzed around the booth, marveling at all the gorgeous and unique works, fascinated by the simple, ancient process they demonstrated.
I was fortunate enough to snag a beautiful knife made from flint and antler, a small elk antler pendant and a gorgeous necklace featuring carved bison bone and antique traders' beads. They were early Valentine presents from The Husband. Who needs chocolates and champagne?!
(I bought my own chocolate and obviously, being pregnant, couldn't have champagne. So that's who. Ha.)
Flint and deer antler-what a beautiful combination! I chose this knife not only for the beauty it possessed, but because it fit so perfectly in my hand, as though it was made for me. I was told that it had been "waiting for the right owner". Definitely me. Burglars beware. This bad girl could seriously slit yer throat.
This is the cool toned and lovely elk antler pendant. I love the simplicity of the carved feather. For me, it symbolizes my tendency to be a lone ranger. There is beauty and peace to be found in the quiet that loneliness can bring.
This is the amazing bison bone necklace. It features not only bison bone, but antique trader beads. I love this necklace, and the three feathers it features. Where as the elk antler necklace reminds me of myself, this one feels like a representation of my family. The Husband and I protect our little feather and do our best to create a sort of shield for her as she grows and prepares for the day when she will float away on the wind. I think feathers are a great representation for humans. As part of the anatomy of a bird, feathers work together to help the whole unit, or "family", fly. And yet, once they leave the "family", they are still capable of traveling such long distances on their own, through the fingers and limbs and mouths of the winds or waters or animals or humans.
For me, the best types of handmade items are those which possess almost spiritual elements, due to qualities like the materials they are made from, the obvious reverence for the craft displayed by the maker, the perfection of the skill involved, or the ability to touch the buyer's soul without explanation or pretense.
These items, to me, have all of those qualities. I have deep admiration for their maker. What an amazing skill set he has, and I applaud him for keeping such an ancient tradition alive. So often we get caught up in "new" art, style and process, looking for the next stimulating and provocative piece or person every five minutes, in vain attempts to satisfy our quest to be the first to find the next big things. It is good for us to keep the simple and "natural" crafts alive. They remind us of not only where we've been, but what we are capable of, and what we are made of.
When I come across an artist or craftsman like Tim, I am quickly reminded of why I am so thankful to be a maker. For me, making things is more than just a way to attempt to make money or impress people or make a name for myself. It is a real compulsion. It is who I am. If I never sold another piece of art or craft, I would still get up every morning and go to bed every night, making things, designing things or thinking about making things. And giving those things away. Making things is how I love people and take care of them, how I communicate with them, and in many instances how I help them. It is how I make the world a better place, not only for myself as therapy, but for others who need a little something positive or spiritual or humorous or relate able in their lives.
Truly, I hope I'll be making things until the day I die, an old and decrepit, painting and stitching, crazy cat lady. But even if that is not in the cards for me, I'll hopefully still be surrounded by the amazing and comforting things that have been made for me by people who love me, by myself and by all the wonderful craftspeople and artists I've met during my time on the earth.
Life is short. Too short to fill it full of disposable, meaningless, soulless objects, people and possessions.