As part of our Spring issue theme, Sheltering at Home Creatively, we asked our Craftsmanship community to tell us: How has the coronavirus crisis affected your life and livelihood? Has it changed your values or priorities? Taken your creativity in new directions? Have you acquired any new maker/DIY skills, or put your existing skills to work in a new way?
We’re featuring some of our favorite responses, thus far, here on our blog. Don’t miss Part 1 of In Your Words: Making Matters More than Ever, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more reader stories — and tag us on social media to share one of your own!
Jennifer Wells, jewelry artist and adjunct professor (Certaldo, Italy)
“I was teaching with a study abroad program for American students in Florence, Italy. Classes were closed on February 28 and all students were sent home. The school will most likely not reopen this year, and my husband’s bar/bakery closed March 9. Married only 3 years this summer, we are reevaluating many things: where we want to be, how we want to exist. This is the first year we’ve had the time to plant a garden… in all this chaos, I am grateful for the time we have had together to literally put down roots and watch them grow.
As fear for my family and loved ones — the majority of whom are across an ocean — grips me, I try to keep moving. Fortunate to live on a farm and able to go for walks, I began to gather olive branches from a recent pruning. The olive tree is a major part of life here in Tuscany, a symbol of peace, unity and healing. In this moment, what more could we hope for? Wrapping the branches around themselves represents a holding of one’s self, a hug or interlocked hands. The beads reference counting and the passing of time. Transferring the branches into jewelry was a natural second step for me, and with it comes the knowledge that these pieces may be worn as a reminder.”
“I’m normally a hyper-social person, working at home all day and going out to dinner, a show, a concert, or to a friend’s every evening. My social appetite, honestly, was obsessive. If you’d asked me a couple of months ago, I would have said our current situation was my worst (well, not worst, really) nightmare. As it turns out, I find myself more engaged, productive, and at peace than ever before. Fortunately my work can be done from anywhere, and hasn’t been terribly reduced. But so many things that caused me anxiety — including traffic, noise, obligatory events, FOMO — are drastically lowered.
My goal at the beginning of this year was to finish my book-in-progress — a work of flash nonfiction — by the summer solstice. As recently as February, that was a pipe dream. Now it seems completely doable. Also, I’d say I’ve cooked more interesting meals during the past month than I had in the past 3 years (see photo: ‘Evil Jungle Prince,’ from Keo’s Thai Kitchen). I’ve also gained some satisfaction by putting a friend in the maker community together with a doctor friend at the Alta Bates ER, to discuss the possibility of producing e-printed face screens.”
Charlie Pitts, retired systems engineer (Lebanon, IL)
“As retirees, our lives have changed very little. We still order weekly from different local restaurants. We phone our friends instead of visiting. My wife is a gardener and I do woodworking, both at the craftsperson level. I have spent significantly more time reading, learning and experimenting with cooking. And I have returned to woodworking, generally taking on more complex or new tasks. I recently built this fireplace mantel using shop-made lacewood veneer.”
Lou Ann Weeks, artist and owner of Skeew.biz, a mosaic supply store (Orlando, FL)
“The coronavirus has really demonstrated how our friends and customers have turned to their creative abilities to help them through this ‘Great Pause.’ The results have been very fortunate for us, in that our sales have picked up. Chatting daily with our customers through our website has increased; everyone always asks how we are doing and reminds me to ‘stay safe.’ The mosaic community is a caring community! Facebook also provides a great gathering place for like-minded artists to connect. So when things start to open back up, I am hoping all artists out there will continue this joyful creativeness, even when their lives become hectic again.”
Jamie Hascall, museum exhibit mount-maker (Seattle, WA)
“I had to cancel multiple scheduled workshops at my shop and planned onsite trainings. I miss teaching and working with other museum professionals, but am looking toward the future and different forms of teaching — possibly teaching a broader range of craft skills than just mount-making specifically.
I’m now enjoying banjo-building and working on some restorations that I’ve had waiting for a while. I’m also making some new, unrelated [to work] art pieces, something I haven’t found the time or inspiration for in many years, like the snail ring shown here. I’m finding a great deal of satisfaction and fun in these projects, as they’re outside of the normal, object-related design parameters of mount-making.”
Hal Taylor, custom rocking chair maker (Stanley, VA)
“I have been making — and teaching the art of making — exquisite custom rocking chairs for the last twenty-odd years. I have been told by many that the rocking chairs I make are actually a portal to higher realms of consciousness! And I have come to believe this is true… In light of all the Covid quarantines, I am making the first three chapters of my new book (with video links) available for free, so that other woodworkers and builders can make use of them.” [Click links below to download the chapters — thanks, Hal!]
The NEW How to Make a Beautiful Rocking Chair
by Hal Taylor
Please tell us what kinds of creative projects you’re pursuing during the Covid-19 crisis. You can even share photos and videos of what you’re doing here. We’ll publish the best on our site and social media channels over the coming weeks.