When you have been away from it for a while, doing creative work can offer unexpected things. It is surprising how quickly such familiar things can be forgotten. At this stage of my life there should be nothing that surprises me about a stint of making but I wonder if part of why I love it so much is that no amount of repetition takes away from the uniqueness of each creation. The choosing, the indecision, the second guessing, the surging confidence, the sudden fear, the disaster, the resurrection, the final reveal.
And the wearing of the things I have made, deeply imbued with the memory and feeling of that creative process is such a rich experience, always richer than I remember it.
As though that wasn't enough, compliments on the wearing are a whole other layer, slathered on top. And the admirations of fellows who themselves know those feelings, who have travelled those paths, indeed who may have gently nudged me along or picked me up when things were sliding downhill, that admiration makes me feel shamefully proud. The cherry on the top of the 60% cocoa ganache and pecan praline just slathered all over it.
I took a very long list indeed with me to craft camp. A list that helped me gather supplies, a list that helped me gather my thoughts, a list that I referred to each time I needed to gather my energy to start the next thing. I never expected to complete it, that wasn't the point, but it was long enough and varied enough to offer something no matter what mood I found myself in. Simple things, complicated things, useful things, frivolous thing, new ideas and ones whose execution was well overdue.
It's not just the making of course. The compound effects of other people are always underestimated. And it doesn't matter that they weren't generally making garments, or even that they were not all actively making. It sounds so simple to say that other people make suggestions, offer advice, help you decide, provide you with the occasional critical addition to your supply box (like a length of perfectly matched ribbon all the way from Paris, thank you Al!), or even that their projects give you ideas and inspire you.
That's all true and important and lovely, but all those things don't come close to describing the change in the air, the sense of purpose, the camaraderie, the way in which there is no need to explain or justify why you might want to knit a pair of leg warmers for a garden statue, or start your first quilt for no other reason than because, well you just felt like it and heck start a second on the same day and stay up until 4am cutting and piecing.
Why even if you don't feel like doing making yourself you might want to wander amongst others who are, touching and asking questions. Why you get so much more done and in such a different state when you can turn off that whole other side of life which impinges on and taints the making. The constant inner (and sometimes outer) dialogue about best use of one's time, the justification, the rationale, the confidence, the shutting out of other demands and thoughts.
I've come to think that it is almost as though makers emit some kind of energy that grows exponentially more powerful when combined with others, and as time passes. And that energy creates a kind of force field, a membrane, that keeps the world out and the creativity in. An energy that is more potent than chocolate and mixed lollies and more insulating than an ipod with noise reduction headphones on a crowded train. Inside the bubble anything is possible, everything is free.
I am trying hard to avoid the worst kinds of cliches and emotional sweeteners but it is difficult to analyse the feeling without coming back to the suspicion that the essence of people's creativity is somehow visible inside the bubble. Infectious, nourishing, playful, warm, beautiful.
In its own way being inside the bubble is quite exhausting. Like a moth round a flame I find it extraordinarily difficult to drag myself off to bed, no matter what resolutions I made beforehand, and once there I find it very hard to sleep. The absence of parental responsibilities and work timetables in the morning do not result in a more leisurely pace or a sleep in. It's as though my body registers the minimum sleep allotment possible and my eyes spring open while everyone else is still asleep. I am compelled out of bed, hungry for a moment alone to enjoy the buzz in the air before others wake and arrive and the hum pitches up. Before the pelvic muscle challenging laughter begins and the sugar flows and the adrenaline takes over.
I hate to leave, but it also seems right when I do. The bubble is not real life - it's not a replacement for real life - and as people leave the bubble seems to drain of its own accord. The magic evaporates and the bubble doesn't so much burst as become thinner and thinner until it's imperceptible. For now I'm back in real life I am neither insulated nor overstimulated, but I know that membrane is there still and the next time I find myself in the orbit of other makers we'll feel the pull towards each other. Our respective bubbles will merge and fill.
A hearty thanks to my fellow travellers for a wonderful time and the inspired Jan for making the place where it all happens.