Monday, December 10, 2012

The Finer Things In Life

In so many respects, I’m a down-to-earth, practical person - after all we mid-westerners are known for our no-frills common sense.  I shop selectively and will wear, use and drive my purchases until they can be worn, used and driven no more.  My current car is well over a dozen years old and has 147,000 miles on it -- I can’t bear to imagine life without it.  Sturdy boxes that come in the mail are re-used, along with pretty tissue paper and paper bags -- because it seems a little sad to throw away something so wonderfully useful.  I have been the queen of up-cycled, re-purposed and vintage since long before it was hip.

This is a very good thing - a balance to my “other” side.  As a little girl, my mother would take me back-to-school clothes shopping once a year.  With innocent and unerring precision, I would head straight to the dress, coat or shoes that carried the highest price tag in the children’s section.  It’s a “talent” that has stayed with me throughout my life.  When shopping for a special occasion dress, the one I select will be made of delicate fabric spun from the silken threads of hand-fed imperial silkworms and beaded with bits of starlight brought back to earth on the space shuttle to be hand stitched over many months by blind Tibetan monks.  You can imagine how much that costs. 

When I began to offer my photography for sale, I did it the only way I knew how - by photographing subjects I found interesting and a little different maybe and then selecting creamy-white archival watercolor paper on which to print the finest inks.  I’m drawn to 8-ply, rather than the standard 4-ply, mats.  When framing my photographs of China, the most complementary mats seem always to be those of raw silk.  In other words, I photograph, mat and often frame things I would happily purchase to hang in my own home.  This isn’t sounding very down-to-earth or practical is it?

An Etsy teammate, a generous man and “knower-of-all-things” has suggested to me that shoppers don’t care what a photograph or piece of art is printed on because we live in a “throw-away” society.  He’s right, of course, but those words were like a cold slap in the face.  Art feels so very personal to me and I assumed it was the same for everyone.  After all, museums don’t allow visitors to touch the art precisely because so many of us are compelled to get close to those pieces that attract us.  Just like love at first sight - the attraction is either there, or it isn’t.  You might appreciate all of those beautiful boys on the beach, but chances are, face to face, that delicious hum of frisson will only occur with one...or two of them.  Closer inspection will tell you if the connection is deeper - if the colors are true, if the subject is balanced, if you are, indeed, drawn to touch and take one home.

Hmmm. I’ve gotten a little muddled here - and you must wonder:  is she talking about art now or those handsome boys on the beach?  No matter.  Maybe I’m missing the point entirely -- holding on too tightly to my own concept of art when art is so very many things.  I could print my photographs on toilet paper and they would still be interesting and unique -- though not so easy to frame perhaps.  I could forgo the satin and lace this year and wrap myself in toilet paper to go dancing on New Year’s Eve and with my middle-of-the-country practicality, use what’s left at the end of the evening in the ultimate act of re-cycling.  I suspect though, that my connection to “the finer things” is imbedded too deeply in my little strands of DNA to find much comfort in either idea.

Stop into my Etsy shop.  Look around -- you may find something that speaks to your soul -- something that will make you smile every single time you gaze at it - something that your grandchildren might come to treasure.  If you buy it, I promise you, it’s been created with care and attention to detail and made to last 100 the very least.

E. England

1 comment:

  1. interesting post and great blog! visiting you from the etsy click and comment team :)