This Friday will be the 10th anniversary of when I got my Laurel. For the non SCA folks out there (which is probably most of you), the Laurel is the highest level arts award that the Society for Creative Anachronism gives out. (The SCA is a historical recreation group that studies the Middle Ages and Renaissance. See sca.org)
I didn't feel I deserved it at the time. I was just, well, plain old me. As ordinary as a pebble. So, I started taking formal art classes at the local community college, to figure out what folks thought I already knew. Art history... 2 and 3D design... ceramics... photography... sewing... painting... life drawing... They had a hard time getting female life drawing models, so I offered to help out--even though I was just a middle-aged house wife. It is now several years later, and I'm still modeling for various classes. Pictures of middle-aged me have hung in museums and won ribbons in shows. (Talk about strange to walk in and see!)
I put the class teaching to use, experimented, learned new techniques on my own, and went to various weekend fiber retreats to learn even more. I passed on what I was learning to others whenever I could. And then in the last few years I opened my Etsy shop (tangibledaydreams.etsy.com) to see if I could give this whole professional artist thing a whirl. That has been a real trip!
My self image has been gradually changing. I call myself an artist now, and a model. I'm not just a middle aged house wife. (Though, I'm still that too. Layers of identity.)
I also finally decided to do a 'master work' for the SCA, and a few months ago completed that hand spun, hand dyed, hand woven dress. (http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/06/historic-hand-spun-hand-woven-tunic.html) It took a good part of a year plugging away at it, bit by bit. When I finished the outfit and put it on? And twirled around in it to flare out the full skirts? Then I felt like maybe I could call myself a Laurel, too.
It has been an incredible 10 years of learning, stretching, and reaching out.
I decided to celebrate this mile marker on my journey by buying myself a new Laurel medallion.
I got it from another Etsy shop, here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sjengraving . It is a beach stone, that they engraved for me. And I love it. Because, yes. Ten years later, and I still feel as ordinary as a pebble. I'm still just plain old me...but I do keep plugging away at it, learning and growing a drop at a time. And that does add up.
Given enough time, simple drops of water can polish rock.