So I’m sitting in Costa attempting to make use of their wifi (it isn’t working) and mulling over my “year off”.
It seems wild that the first quarter of the year has already passed. I’ve ticked many tasks and goals off my list, but the couture corsetry side has been moving slowly.
A year likely isn’t going to be enough time for these corsets. I have once again underestimated how much work we really put into them. Working only one day per week has thrown it into stark relief! Everything takes an age. There are good reasons most corsetry has machine-finished binding. There are good reasons to use fewer steels. The reasons are generally entirely valid from a construction point of view and to do with the purpose of the corset, but a happy side-effect is also that one saves time and money and can thus earn a living more easily.
Our Butterflies and Moths should be treasures. That’s my wish for them. Not to make perfect things, but to make things with heart. Things that will become markers of moments and feelings, both for me the maker and for you the owner. I remember staying up all night watching Strictly Ballroom whilst finishing the binding on a beautiful cranberry corset. There’s a thrumming energy in your chest that comes with completing the act of creation. You tell me about feeling unapologetically beautiful in something I’ve made, perhaps for the first time, and I love that I’ve contributed to that sense of glowing sunshine and joy. The work has to be about “flourishing” or its pointless.
I’ve quoted the final passage of “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee many times before.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Joy. Unbelievable, heart-bursting, joy. For me as a child, those moments would come when I was alone with my pony, or sitting on the hill above our house, or walking somewhere windy. A sense that there’s nothing else you would rather be doing at that moment. That you want for nothing. That you’re free and full of potential.
As an adult, I am aware that one can cultivate these simple moments, by understanding yourself better and constantly adjusting your expectations so that you are more open to joy. All I want is to be in a field whilst animals and/or humans that I consider friends mill about. And when making corsetry, all I want is to create opportunities for flow, with music, a cat curled up nearby, working beautifully tactile materials in my hands. You perhaps have to sacrifice other things to create such a life, but that’s fine.
Butterflies and Moths. The former are colourful, rambunctious and disparate, whilst the latter are muted, delicate, and cohesive. They will each become joyous in their own way. And whilst any piece of couture or craft or art may seem nothing more than a frivolous trinket, such pieces are actually performing a function. One of blossoming. One of self-actualisation. One of becoming. For me, the maker, by letting me explore, express, and master a skill. And for you, the owner, by letting you explore, express, and master a facet of your sense of self.
Making less corsetry, and spending more time outdoors with mud and horses, suits me. I’ve a feeling this “small” year for my business may tip over into two.