Monday, April 18, 2011
A Cuddle Bunny Family
Last month my neighbor loaned me a copy of Everyday Sacred; A Woman's Journey Home, by Sue Bender. It was a delightful read, a series of vignettes about Bender's search to see and appreciate the gifts that each day brings. "Like the monk going out with his empty bowl, I set out to see what each day offered," Bender explains. In the process, she learns to quiet the harsh, critical voice inside her and accept her unique talents as an artist.
In one section that I particularly enjoyed, Bender describes an art project she set for herself: to draw and paint a pear every day for a whole month. She hopes to master shape and shadow in the process. While she doesn't achieve the skill mastery that she had expected, Bender learns to tap into the joy of the creative process:
"Waking up each day knowing I was going to draw a pear changed the quality of my day. Total devotion to one task, even for a brief period of time--to stop the world--was enormously satisfying. I was carried along by clear intention and genuine effort." (p. 101)
Drawing a pear may seem like a pointless task. Making bunnies might seem even sillier. But there is something very powerful in the practice of completing such simple projects. It is freeing to take a simple form, such as a rabbit, and explore color and pattern through it. Knowing the simple steps I need to take to make a bunny emerge from wool and thread clears everything else from my mind, and the world does indeed seem to stop, as Bender suggests, when I am immersed in stitching. I am also learning to set aside my self-criticism and doubts and just let the joy singing through my heart flow out in the embroidery and hand sewing.
I'm sure that this approach--the "total devotion to one task"--could be applied to anything we do in a day. Writing. Cleaning. Caring for a child. Tending a garden. Crunching numbers or managing people or directing traffic.
Each Cuddle Bunny I make is an expression of love and care. Each one also feels like an improvisation. I gather together my jumble of felted wool, threads, and buttons. As I sort through them and match colors that I like, I take a leap of faith that my skills will bring a pleasing shape together. The personality of each bunny emerges as I embroider a pattern of flowers on its side, sew on the long ears, choose a pair of buttons for the eyes, and finally add a fluffy tail. And I end up with a stuffed animal that can be loved by little hands, or just admired for its sweetness. How satisfying is that?
If you have sewn a Cuddle Bunny of your own from my pattern, please feel free to post a photo in the Flickr Cuddle Bunny group. It will be fun to see a brightness of Cuddle Bunnies collected in one place.
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 3:45 AM