Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Wouldn't It Be Easier to Buy a New One?
Working on creating a sustainable garden environment, and the many successes we've had with this project has emboldened me to hold our indoor environment to higher standard. Meaning that by insisting on sustainability and consideration for the larger web of life outside, we are able to do it inside more easily.
And, I think we have learned the secret to making this transition both inside and out: learn about process, where you fit in, and choose to cherish some processes over others. How is your food produced? How are your goods produced? How are garden spaces produced? How do the systems you are part of as a producer and consumer work? What is your role in them? So for example, as a student of a local eco-system, I've learned how to work with its processes to create our gardens. As consumers, we are lucky enough now to consume ethically and sustainably produced food exclusively, having researched the processes through which food is produced.
So I wanted to share a recent success on this front that I am really proud of: Recycled Couch. My brother rescued it from a friend's parents' garage in the mid 1980s (no one remembers when, exactly). It was then my couch when my brother's girlfriend moved in with her own couch (1990-ish). All through grad school this was my couch, and even though it was tattered and frayed and the cushions all replaced with blankets and pillows, it was still my couch last year when my mother said "you know, this couch has a hardwood frame".
My mother took a class in recovering furniture in the 1960s, and has recovered every single piece of reclaimed furniture we ever had as a family. But even better, my mother is brave enough to say 'yes' to crazy ideas-like 'I want to make my own cushions out of reclaimed textiles'. Because now I want this couch to last, to honour, in a sense, its inherent durability and sustained utility (it has a hardwood frame remember).
So here it is, a testament to my mother's abilities, her willingness to help and teach (we even used reclaimed and second hand tacks) and to her encouragement that 'sure, you can make your own cushions'. And to the fact that everyone else has raided their stashes of worn out blankets, tattered jeans and ancient fabric swatches to get me started making the cushions. And it has become a product and a testament to a workshop given by some of the Gee's Bend Quilters I took in August, where I learned a lot about blending form and function working with textiles, and more about both trusting my own design judgment and taking risks with fabrics.
Yes, a thousand times yes it would have been easier to buy a new couch as a friend asked. It is, however, more satisfying and livable, and way more FUN to have this couch as an on-going project- each cushion is a 25"x74" pad that can be tossed in the wash and dried on the line- so we'll need many, and each will be an opportunity to practice more work. More process.