It’s all over my fingers and the dipping end of the pen. Smells lovely. I feel I’m back wearing plaits, sitting with ankles crossed, concentrating on hitting that pre-ruled upper line with the letter ‘P’. The ink concentrates on the nail / knuckle area of my third finger. There’s still an ancient callous-y bit there from all those years of pre-keyboard handwriting.
And it’s such a lovely feeling! Get that pen and paper out!
I’ve just come back from a calligraphy project in a colleague’s house involving walls, children’s poems, mess, and a tight timetable. I experienced dedicated time, focus, and physical effort. It was wonderful.
So let’s celebrate CRAFT and all the wonderful feelings unleashed by doing something with your hands, with making something, with having a real object to handle at the end your efforts.
It’s a contagious feeling. A small person (wearing plaits!) approaches my table in the café to get a closer look. So in a spirit of generational continuity we settle down to some serious paper folding. You can hardly see my fingery ink smudges on the flapping bird. Hardly at all.
We are in companionable silence, punctuated with little exclamations of effort and delight, as I realize that our heads are bowed at exactly the same angle, and that I have left my espresso untouched.
I guess a child doesn’t drink coffee.
I’m a child at this moment. No doubt about it.
My new partner in paper crime speaks seriously of a surface design required for the paper fan. We consider it thoughtfully and debate options. We are fellow artisans. We conclude – I did nudge a little – that a calligraphy design will fit the bill.
Ten minutes later and a happiness without price smiles its way around the table.
It will be a present for her mum.
A little problem I’d been noodling over effortlessly resolves itself as I wave across the café. The concentration on a physical action has worked its magic. Everything and anything can be solved creatively by not trying to solve it, it seems.
So this is my creativity prescription. Make something. Anything.
First, some encouragement: a little book to dip into.
Alex Munroe is a craftsman, an artist. His jewellery is enjoyed around the world. He has now written enchantingly about how he came to craft jewellery. His childhood was free and full of love, a sort of benign neglect that encouraged a curiosity into the workings of….everything, in rural Suffolk. Here he is on youtube talking about how ‘Two Turtle Doves: a Memoir of Making Things’ came to be.
We’re not all accomplished craftsmen. But we all have a craftsman within us. We are all craft-y. And that crafty part just loves to be let out.
I reach out across the table. A Cruella de Vil ink–drinking scenario is avoided just in time.
I sip the espresso, and slip back into adulthood.