What a Difference a Year Makes!

Posted by on May 26, 2020

Ceramic Artist & lifelong friend, Susan Collett, showing her 2020 styling, including the necessary handmade mask made by Leslie Norgate, with handmade scarf by Rundi Phelan, that compliments her LREJ Cascade Necklace.

Not quite sure how to begin this blog post? Where do I begin when it’s been almost exactly a year since we last met in this space?  

I’m not really sure HOW I fell off the “monthly blog post wagon” but I did, and I fell hard. So hard, that it seemed impossible to get back on. I think we all know the longer you stay away from something, the less important it seems. I carried on with all my usual work things last year – craft shows, fibre events, wholesale orders, stocking seasonal galleries, etc. And there was ALWAYS something else to replace that blog time. It might also have been because I had been writing something pretty much every month since the Fall of 2016, and I felt like I didn’t have anything new or interesting to share.

Some of my knitting since we last all saw one another at the Winter 2019 One of Kind Show. Yes, those are handmade buttons on the blue jacket, but they are currently just prototypes….still figuring them out from a production point of view.

Fast forward to now, May 2020: the year the whole world changed. Our new NOW is kind of hard to define. If I thought that navigating the world was weird before COVID-19, it’s completely strange now. But somehow, I think we are all adapting.

Emotionally, It’s been a whirling mix of feelings for me. Gratitude for the people I share my life and home with. Worry over a very uncertain future as a self-employed artist who is the sole supporter of a family of five. A sort of regret (not quite sure how to describe it) that my chosen career path isn’t in the Essential Services sector. But I also feel comfort and pride in our (mostly) communal efforts to protect one another by staying home.

Thankfully, I’ve “freely worked in self-isolation” for many years now. Many things are still the same. Most days, I spend time in my studio – but with no schedule at all. Fortunately, as a small business owner, there are always things to keep me busy.

A big part of shutting down my studio is removing ALL the jewellery from the display cases.

On Thursday, March 12th, when the world I knew started to completely fall apart, I took all my jewellery out of the display cases, put it in my safe; locked the safe, activated the alarm, locked the studio door and went home.  

I stayed home and watched in awe at how quickly the world we knew went away. I kept busy doing things you never have time for, and I baked and baked and baked. When I wasn’t baking, I was knitting, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was purging – a cupboard here, a drawer over there – even dug to the bottom of my freezer. We’re still enjoying some of those “unnamed frozen things”, and have yet to hit a “bad one” that we’ve had to throw out!

My mother’s classic “Melting Moments” cookie recipe, one of my boys’ favourites, got a real work-out in my kitchen in March & April.

In the thick of “stay safe”, it was time for me to return to my studio. Once I got there though, metalsmithing was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I started to plant seeds, hoping I’d be able to garden in my Community Garden this season. As a friend pointed out to me, “You’re happy if your hands are dirty.” Agreed!

Tomatoes – small, large, yellow, red and orange. I love all the varieties! And, lots of basil to go with them. I try to make enough pesto to last us right through the winter.

Once I planted more tomato seedlings and basil than my Community Gardening plot can handle, and my showroom looked more like an indoor greenhouse, it was time to get back to work. So, since May 1st, I have once again been working on some jewellery things. Mostly repairs and unusual requests, but I’m also taking time to slowly clean out and purge studio stuff. After nearly 30 years, I have unearthed things that have long been forgotten! This will be an ongoing endeavour that will take months, possibly years, to complete.

With all the shows cancelled for the foreseeable future, I won’t get to see my favourite clients, and I won’t be actively selling anything. After so many years, this is a first. And very weird for everyone, not just makers. But as everyone keeps saying “we are all in the same boat”. So much uncertainty: who knows how long this will go on for, etc. There is no one that hasn’t been touched by this virus. I love what I do, but I know it has it’s limitations in this current environment. 

That said, people still have birthdays, anniversaries and milestones in their life. That won’t stop. And there should still be some kind of celebration. As Canada Post’s increase in deliveries attests, gifts and most other purchases are being bought online. For a small business like me, a website is a saving grace in these times. I can still talk to you there – you can still visit me there. And if you think you or someone you know would want a piece of my jewellery, you can order something. If you don’t see it, email me. I am always happy to help.

If you would like to support my business without it costing you anything more than your time, I can suggest a couple of things. You can follow me on Instagram @lisaridout. It’s the ONLY social media thing I do and it’s linked to my website. 

Or click the link to my Google Business page and write a review. Especially, if you’ve bought something from me in the past and had a good experience. Or if you just love what you bought and wear it every day. Just write from your heart. 

I hope this return to writing monthly blog posts continues and that it finds you and yours healthy, relatively happy, and staying sane as we all isolate and continue to fight the spread of COVID-19. I’ll share what this creative person does with her time on a monthly basis. I’m pretty sure it will be a mix of baking, knitting, gardening, metalsmithing and all that “staying creative with COVID” involves.

Sewing isn’t my thing but, as you know, knitting is! Free face mask pattern from Catherine Lowe. Knit mine with 100% cotton yarn and lined it with 100% cotton fabric.

Be well, my friends.