To me words are persnickety; they never string themselves in an appropriate manner. I struggle to express myself accurately aloud, to trudge through the conflicting barrage of emotions and make a symphony of coherence. I envy those who can. The past year has brought a wave of anxiety, loneliness, and doubt, but I prefer to work out my sentiments physically. Perhaps that’s why I’ve picked up countless crafts. Just in the last year and a half I have taken up embroidery, clay crafting, sewing, painting, diamond painting - you name it.
I by no means consider myself an artist. To me that was always a term reserved for the “masters”: the ones who spend countless hours homing in their craft, the ones who are able to create something so immaculate that it is almost divine. I on the other hand, lack the discipline of focus. In my mind I’ve too many interests and too little time to master a single thing. I want to do it all. Perhaps it is the fear of failure - the fear of inputting the time my work deserves and still coming up short in comparison to these “masters”. As I work on myself, I have come to realize that I can break that perception and be one in my own right. Perfection isn’t the goal, but rather the process of creation is what I should enjoy.
I draw inspiration from the digital and physical world around me. I have always struggled with anxiety and prior to the pandemic I resided in New York City, amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Oddly enough, the sleepless metropolis lulls me; it assures me that there are bigger and better things out there, that there is always more to experience and that takes precedence over my qualms. Moving to the suburbs brought a change of pace that I didn’t quite know what to do with. Previously, time had been a scarce currency I was always bargaining with - if I took an hour here to do X then that would mean an hour less there to do Y. It had also meant less time sitting alone with my thoughts and battling them.
This overabundance of time was overwhelming, and as everyone’s world turned more digital by the day, I sought refuge by travelling to distant unattainable places via my 5-inch screen. I reminisced on the dreamy cobalt blue and chalk white cliffside dwellings of Santorini, where I had traveled to a decade earlier, the turquoise waters of Miami, my hometown, and even the savanna grasslands of Africa. As I daydreamed, the colors began to dance in my head - fluid but confident - molding themselves to the material form of my crafts. From there, I replicated the colors I had envisioned as closely as I could in clay or bought fabric in that exact shade and got to work cutting, shaping, and assembling my pieces. Few feelings compare to working the clay with your bare hands, cutting fabric and hitting a stride with your scissors, and that final moment when you hold up a finished piece and beam with pride at your ability to realize a vision.
Initially, my energy came in bursts. I found myself making at all hours, whenever the inspiration struck or whenever I needed to fill the void of time. Time had had become a double-edged sword; I feared having it but at the same time it allowed me to explore these countless venues for my emotions. Some crafts came and went but others struck a chord and stuck around, nagging at me as if to say, “when are we going to make next?” I have mostly continued with creating clay earrings and sewing, scouring Youtube and social media groups for new tips and tricks to level up my skillset. For example, I keep my pasta machine in pristine condition by cutting pieces of parchment paper with scissors, sandwiching clay between two sheets, and rolling it through! The things one can learn online are truly endless.
Soon I had a myriad of finished projects I didn’t quite know what to do with, so I decided to start my own website to test the mirky waters of e-commerce. I named this endeavor Lilied Lane. The sales numbers do not carry much weight to me. I instead strive to have Lilied Lane embody that ephemeral feeling I strive for, in which my mind, body and spirit are aligned and harmoniously work together to achieve my vision. It represents everything that I am when I am at peace.
Somewhere along the way, my crafts have become much more than their physical outcomes. They instead have everything to do with me. I get to be completely selfish and relish in this time I have with just myself and my tools. Sure, there are moments of frustration; seeing the remarkable work of other creators begs comparison. Despite the irks, the risk is low, and the mistakes are always teachable moments. No, I won’t compare myself. My crafts have propped me up through moments of hopelessness, and it is in this that I have found myself, that I have come to realizations in which everything clicks, and I am able to see the bigger picture. This time is about me - it bridges the chasm between the untamed realization of what I don’t want out of my life and the excitement of things that have yet to come.
While I validate the very mechanisms I developed to cope in the last year and a half and reinforce my longing to create, I strive to leave the world just a little bit more beautiful than it was before. Though I don’t know exactly what this next year holds for me, one thing I do always seem know is what I desire to make next. With that I am at peace.