Yesterday I was winding the bobbins for the Torchon bookmark I’m making for my Made Up pledge and someone asked me what I was going to use them to make. ‘Oh, it’s just a bookmark’ I said, to which they replied ‘it doesn’t look like “just” a bookmark to me; it looks pretty complicated.’
That word – just.
It could’ve meant; this is a simple project beneath my current skill level. It could’ve meant the finished object wasn’t going to be useful, or worth it. Or it could even have been used to indicate deference to the other person’s perceived skill level. I often hear lacemakers and other creative types use the word just, to mean any or all of these things. “It’s just a simple edging I’m doing to pass the time”. “It’s just a Sorbetto for the summer”.
But the first lace edging you make, or Sorbetto top you sew isn’t ‘just’. It’s a big deal. It represents achievement, learning and a swell of excitement as a new world of possibility and creativity reveals itself.
Of course as makers it’s important to stretch, challenge and improve. But sometimes it is good to take a breather, and to revisit simpler things. If you put it into the context of literacy, which is what the Made Up initiative is all about, just because I have the ability to read Proust, doesn’t mean that he is all I have to read and it also doesn’t mean that I can’t equally enjoy reading Julia Donaldson to my children- the words may be simpler but the enjoyment is still there, and it’s still a fantastic use of my time.
Revisiting simpler projects can also remind us how far we’ve come; it lets us hone skills or experiment with new techniques. But most importantly it is also still creating. I’ll still have a beautiful bookmark by 10 September (all being well)….
And my simple (to me) little bookmark has already helped to raise lots of money for the National Literacy Trust. All of these things we’re ‘just’ creating will contribute towards unlocking that new world of possibility for others. And that’s just wonderful, as far as I’m concerned.