Surrounded by the fresh new life of spring, I have been pondering Beauty. We’ve seen the gentle spring sunlight draw leaf clusters out of bare branches and blank garden-beds. We’ve also renewed through spring’s enlivening, expanding effect and nature’s beauty. I was thinking about how we create beauty.
Much of what I do requires the use of my hands and eyes. To keep me company I listen to audio programs. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the colourful character, the west coast philosopher named Manly P. Hall, who was born in 1901 in Peterborough Ontario and died in 1990 in Los Angeles. Every now and then I look for one of his stimulating online lectures. The Manly Hall Society recently posted one titled “How to make your home more beautiful”. Naturally I clicked! The easy-to-follow talk is as relevant today as it was when he delivered it to a Los Angeles audience in June 1958.
Hall stresses the importance of independent thinking for creativity, the values of creating beauty, the moral effect a beautiful home has on its inhabitants and the liberating power of discipline. After encouraging de-cluttering, he arrives at Zen, characterizing it as the urge to creativity for no reason but thoughtful care for something that only exists because of your labours. This exertion, claims Hall, has great personal benefit. https://youtu.be/3uFMFyZGxuI Playing this while tidying, chopping and sorting, a Domestic Diva can find time passing quickly while absorbing inspiring ideas.
I am currently making drapes for a special client. Let me share some secrets. It is my style, when working with open linen weaves used for semi sheer drapes, to pull a thread out of the full width of the fabric to mark the drapery length and cut along the open channel, exactly on the woven line of the fabric. I press the side hems by measuring every few inches and watching that the folds follow the line of the threads of the weave. I hand stitch the side hems which takes hours and hours.
The tops are measured, folded and pressed. Sheer stiffening band is stitched on by machine. The top width is measured for pleats that are carefully spaced and stitched into place one at a time. For a figured fabric, I space the pleats to harmonize with the pattern, for plain, every 5 inches.
At this stage I take the panels to the client’s window, hook them on the pre-installed drapery hardware, mark the fabric where it touches the floor and take them away again to trim the length, press and hand stitch the hems. This whole process takes a crazy amount of time compared to running the drapes through a hemming machine whose plastic thread leaves a tight fold. I guess I do it because the hand stitches disappear beautifully into the fabric. Fabricating this slow way is not efficient but it just feels right.
Little ways of creating beauty put springtime into life and who knows, now and then we might even rival Nature in making something beautiful.
I’m curious. What do you put inordinate amounts of time into because it’s something you enjoy? Please leave a message in the place for comments below.
A long standing member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Lois Macaulay holds a 1st place award for residential design 2018, 2nd place for 2017 and 2 presidential citations for contributions to the profession from ASID. “I love creating beautiful settings for extraordinary women--and men,” she says. The strong fashion/design connection in these posts owes its source to her first career as a fashion designer, coordinator and national fashion magazine editor.