Creatively speaking, working within limits is something that most artists do but might not be aware of its comforts. Artists are limited by skill, knowledge, time, and geography -- although to a lesser extent due to covid19. In this article I will address my upcoming limits of art material and supplies, and our cabin in the woods.
In a few days I will be moving my 11 one-month old chicks, the dog, and myself to our cabin in the woods until it gets too cold to live there. My son and husband will divide their time between the cabin and our urban home in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). This plan was in the making several months before Emily died. She was thrilled about the potential of living in our GTA home without us hovering over her. Having studied about raising chickens for years, living away from Emily gave me the confidence that I wouldn’t pass salmonella or some other fatal bird disease to her.
Our cabin in the woods is off-the-grid. That means we aren’t connected to municipal services such as water or electricity. We generate our own power with four solar panels that feed two batteries to power lights, television, laptops, and cell phones. If we need more power to run the ice maker (ice for coolers -- our source of refrigeration), vacuum, heaters, toaster, and coffee maker, we turn on the gas generator briefly. Gary, my husband, connected the generator to top up the batteries when it’s running. He’s so clever.
We bring our own water to the cabin from the city and top up the huge water jugs in the local towns when we have the need. We used to employ a cistern system by collecting water in rain barrels, turning on the generator to use the water pump to send lower rain barrel water to the rain barrel on the roof and creating a gravity feed system. Yes, it was complicated, and we were never confident about the safety of using water filtered through animal droppings on the roof. Our future plans involve purchasing a filtration system that will pump creek water to the roof barrel -- but that’s on the long list of future plans that we are slow to achieve. For now city water works and doesn’t feel like work. We have enough water to shower, wash dishes, drink, and cook.
We have seriously neglected cabin maintenance for about three years. We rarely spent any time at the cabin due to being at hospital with Emily and now covid19. Our 2.5 acre property has a 500 square foot main cabin -- I call it the green house, a cute little 144 square foot bunkie that was once my art studio. There are two capped outhouses each with an open air lean-to, a working outhouse with an outdoor shower that we still use, and a man-cave shed with a lean-to. That lean-to collapsed under this past winter’s snow putting another thing on our TO DO List. Both capped outhouses are used for storage now, one will be converted into a chicken coop next week.
My packing list is getting long -- too long. Of course I will load up the chicks, their feed, and wood shavings. There is already a bale of straw in the truck of my hatchback for the chicken coop. I have limited car space so Gary will drive up with Evan, the dog, food, water, coolers, and their clothing. I will bring my clothing and work to the cabin.
Here lies one of my limits. I can only get so much stuff in my car. The necessities for work are two laptops, cell phone, and textile materials. That list got long -- fabric, thread, needles, sewing equipment (minus a sewing machine, all hand sewing off-the-grid), embroidery hoops, embroidery floss and thread, scissors, beads, jewelry findings, jewelry making tools, wire, watercolour paint and brushes for watercolour embroidery -- and then there are fibre arts supplies; wool, knitting needles, crochet hooks, fleece, roving, felting needles, felting block, wet felting supplies, and all the spinning stuff. Nope. I cut the spinning stuff early in my list making -- I was overwhelmed with which spinning wheel to bring, drop spindles, raw sheep fleece, alpaca fleece, and swifts.
I need to address my limits.
Felting, both needle and wet felting are off the list. If I absolutely need these things I will bring them up later in the summer when I am in the city for my second covid19 vaccine. I pulled out three bins of jewelry making supplies yesterday - nope. I plan to set limits on them today. I’m not bringing my sewing machine -- it requires too much electricity and it’s bulky. Handing sewing in nature suits me best anyway. Watercolour embroidery is off the list too. I will bring enough embroidery supplies to make the small craftivism banners that are on my summer list. Skeins of wool are easy to remove from the list because my favourite wool is sold at the local shop.
My new packing list contains; small amount of fabric to make the fabric jewelry that I have already committed myself to making for others, sewing supplies for those projects, two sizes of embroidery hoops and a few colours of floss, my favourite two crochet hooks, 4 circular knitting needles, 5 skeins of wool, a few beads that compliment the fabric I bring, silver jewelry findings, silver wire, one jewelry tool, a few sewing notions.
There are benefits to the limits I set for myself.
Limiting myself to making only silver jewelry is a tremendous help for selecting which beads, thread, and fabric I bring. Focusing on these few things will allow my imagination to ignite.
Inspiration from being in the forest among the grand Canadian Shield rock, rivers + lakes will be the backdrop to new ideas + art materials.
Limitations provide us with creative thinking + allow us to look at possibilities with new vision.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the chickens, cabin, and art work.
You can also see updates on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sandra.clarke.canada/
Have a great day! Sandra
Sandra Clarke • A Work In Progress