"According to Steiner’s aesthetic, each artistic creation should capture the vitality, fluid beauty, and
uniqueness that living organisms manifest. While machine-made goods are uniform, handmade things are
beautiful by virtue of their irregularity. A hand-carved wooden bowl or spoon, a hand-knitted scarf or
hat, a wall that has been lazured (i.e., painted with many layers of thin watercolor washes), a piece of
hand-dyed cloth-each of which can be found in a typical Waldorf classroom-express this sensibility.
Natural materials such as wood rather than synthetic materials such as plastic also support this aesthetic.
For this reason, in a Waldorf school the children’s desks and chairs are usually made of unpainted wood
so that the natural beauty of the grain can show. In their crafts and handwork, the children-beginning in
the kindergarten-use natural materials such as beeswax, clay, and unspun wool-and experience with their
hands the living beauty of the natural world."
link to full article here
The little Waldorf dolls that I made my girls over Christmas have really helped me to understand the real and tangible difference between the handmade and the manufactured.
My girls have bonded with their dolls in a way that I have never seen them do with their other dolls.
They "feel" for their little cloth doll friends and want to include them in their activities.
Of course it goes without saying that these little dolls were made with a great deal of love by their Mama :0) They were also made using only completely natural materiel's. The fibres of the dolls actually resonate with a clarity and honesty that plastic dolls simply cannot replicate.
We recently bought some paintings from a local homeware shop. These paintings were to replace a heavy mirror in our lounge that was unstable. These paintings were genuine oils, however they were clearly from a production line and not an real artist.
Up in the girls bedrooms we have a few genuine etchings, oil paintings and pastels, some inherited from my grandparents, some bought while in Paris years ago.
These works of art shimmer with the soul of the one who wrought them. They are a presence in and of themselves. What a difference between them and the stylish, co-ordinating yet emotionally vacuous works that now hang above our sofa.
Next time I will, without hesitation, wait till I can afford an honest piece of real art rather than settle for quick solution.
Doesn't this also apply to so many things. The food we eat for example. When I eat fresh home grown veggies, or some organic locally grown or produced food I feel the health and vitality from the first bite.
Tani often says, when he first came to England one thing that struck him was the tastelessness of the fresh fruit and vegetables. He often recalls how the smell of the vegetables his mother prepared in the kitchen would scent the whole house. Peppers, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers alive with flavour!
The way in which something is grown or created will impact the soul or beingness of the thing itself whether animal, vegetable or mineral.
In Waldorf schools, children are given the opportunity to see the process of creation from start to finish.
An example of that is getting the children to collect local sheep fleece. They wash, card and spin the fleece, plie it to create yarn and then create something beautiful and useful from it such as a knitted scarf or a crocheted bag.
Maintaining the vital connection between product and process is essential if we are to remain mindfully compassionate about the choices we make as consumers.
I really want to introduce this mindful philosophy to the girls more and more.
The connection between process and product is also something I want to integrate more and more into our homeschooling day.
So often we can get too caught up on the finish line, the target, the result, when really the process of creation is where the essential learning takes place.
Boo has been learning this lesson well as she weaves her little rope basket, day by day, inching around a circle, two stitches forward and one stitch back!
At first it was really hard for her to undo any work that was messy and could be improved on. She became very attached to the idea of "just finishing".
Now undoing and redoing are something she takes on board much more easily and through it she gives her work integrity. What a powerful lesson. No there are no deadlines in our homeschool :)
I had to undo a whole ream of knitting the other evening, so I understand her predicament well. The sinking heartache of unraveling hard work is never an easy thing. Yet what life lessons are held in those tangled pieces of ringletted yarn that lie in a pile upon the floor!
How many times in life will we have to make each stitch count for its own sake?
Ultimately, the integrity of a whole life's work rests upon the love given to the single stitches that weave it into one piece.
Our pride cannot rest upon a fixed idea of what the end product should reflect about us and our own ego but the meaning of the process itself.
How it shaped us as we shaped it.
One small change for us! Here's a little pledge then :)
From now on I will strive to be to be more mindful about what I consume. Whether that be products, clothes, toys, decor, utilities or food. I will try to maintain the connection between process and product and create an ambience in our home that emanates the light, love, texture and soul of the handcreated, the ethical the natural and the concious.