Today the house is quiet except for the gentle hum of the fish tank. I’m beginning to feel calm after a number of days feeling a bit ‘stabby’; I’m starting Beaky, a puppet; a beautiful birdy-style puppet.
I’ve made the foam head. I’ve burned myself on the hot glue more times than I can count. I’m smiling I’m making first pattern for the covering out of carrier bags, and I’m smiling. Let me tell you why.
When I was 14 I found out that a friend’s brother was going to Falmouth School of Art and Design…. the most interesting fact was that in those days you got a grant to live away from home. Yep the local authority gave 16 year olds money to go study art…. CRAZY!!!! Anyway, I wanted to leave home, at the earliest opportunity and so a plan was made. I could draw, the deal was sealed. Fast forward on a couple of years and there I was, living away from home at the tax payers expense doing a BTEC ND in Fashion Design.
I didn’t pass the course. None of my work satisfied the ‘commercially viable’ component and I didn’t have any money to put on a final show. I didn’t really care. I was my own (utterly irresponsible) person, living on my own I had loved every minute of the life drawing and finding out about different media and I had learnt about pattern cutting. So, what! I didn’t pass! move on to Plan B . Not that I had a Plan B… Let’s be honest, I hadn’t really thought Plan A through that well!
So many years went by during which I developed a CV that looked like a Yellow pages. I mistook being good at something as a reason to try and make it a career … including jobs that involved wearing suits and taking responsibility for stuff I wasn’t interested in (not my happiest epoch), I enrolled on a music degree course only once again to run out of money, I applied for jobs for which I was totally under qualified and gained them due to my creative writing skills on the applications. All the while I felt like a failure. I felt like I never knew enough, like I had achieved nothing and would never amount to anything. However, I realised during many dark nights of the soul that in each of my incarnations, I learned something, I gained skills. That I was luckier than most in that I had experienced so much and had so many opportunities to learn new things.
Fast forward loads more years. My baby girl loved the muppets… ok I loved the muppets and it was a good reason to watch them again. She loved puppets. I decided to have a go at making them. ‘How hard can it be?’ I thought – it was this thought that was behind many of my creative job applications. And it was hard but I didn’t care because when you want to do something you don’t mind, and I started to remember my pattern cutting and I smiled. It was a light bulb moment. Truly, nothing is wasted. Everything I have done or not done has taught me something. Sometimes the lessons are harder to spot than others.
So anyway I have no qualifications in making puppets other than I make puppets. I use skills that I have learned my whole life. Surely that’s the most important thing. The Doing Something Because You Love It.