This is the story of tools and white privilege.
But don’t worry it is actually a happy story.
In my childhood we always had a men shed with a striking collection of tools for woodworking and electrical wiring.
For my dad and granddad.
The thing is I always snack in there when nobody was watching.
I do not remember any of them ever showing me how to use the hammers and the saws which I used to make the furniture for my dolls.
Or helping me with the making of it.
Sure it would have been a waste of time on a girl.
What would I need that for?
Dad often complained that the tools would be wasted on us.
I think he meant the family name would disappear as he had only two daughters.
The family tool collection was such a treasured possession that they were used as a bargaining chip during a family divorce drama.
So I grew up around tools in times when men behaving like tools was the norm. Common enough story.
But being denied the right to own or even use tools as a child had stayed with me.Ever since I started my practice I have coveted every single tool which brings the passion of making to another dimension.
In fact, tools are part of my practice on a very different level.
I have designed and made a range of felting rolling pins.
They sell all over the world.When I was starting my practice- a had nothing.
Not even a rolling pin, or a pair of scissors , no studio.
I didn’t even know whether I have any hope of making it.
I knew I could work.
And oh I worked. I worked 12 hours a day in my studio in an old leather factory.
And I started building a practice.
With relentless enthusiasm and die hard attitude.
The studio space was in a really inspiring building dating 300 years back. The business was bust and the owner of the business was sitting in a kind of a Great Expectations kind of setting- surrounded by beautiful machines and tools that were rusting and dusting…
So I often wondered at the tools and sometimes when nobody would be watching- I try them out. Just like I used to do in my childhood.
The owner I think knew. He started suggesting to me tools I should use for particular job and advise me on the processes.
This was a baby boomer who lived the white privilege life and owed nothing to a disabled immigrant who happen to love creating felt stories.
But he thought me. I needed help – and he offered it. Simple. No drama.
And he generously gifted me scissors, duys for cutting and the realisation that what I do is more art activism than a craft business.
Eventually, I had to move from there. But I still have 6 pairs of scissors and several dyes that come from the baby boomer who passed on his tools before they go to waste.
The scissors and dies that he gave me are always behind me on my tool wall.
My tool was is a beauty. Half of it is covered with gifted scissors and the other half is holding the felting tools I have designed.
The rolling pins were designed to support me working with one hand and informed by a massager I used in making one of my first most ambitious pieces.
Tools are always put into good use in my practice.
And are generously offered to anyone- regardless of their background, convictions and abilities.
Tools are magical extension of our abilities to conjure up help and hope.
And for me personally they are always a reminder that all us powerful strung women have made it because there were those ready to yield knowledge.
In my case it took relentless enthusiasm and die hard attitude.
Tools could yield hope.
The ones I have do.