Monday, June 24, 2013

Pearls to Swine?



My latest card.

Kinda harsh, that header isn't it?

I was chatting to a close friend today as it is her birthday. She's an artist and we rambled on, as old friends tend to do, about the reception given some of our creative gifts.

Example 1 for me was a beautiful afghan I had knitted as a gift for some family members. These afghans are designed and executed by me and encompass over 100 hours of my time, effort and love. And I didn't even get a thank you card. I suppose a quickly written cheque would have been more acceptable to them? Probably.

Example 1 for her was a painting she had created over days in her studio especially for a couple who were celebrating their 45 year wedding anniversary last Saturday. The gift was received with a reluctant "oh, that's nice." and left on the floor while the couple went on to ooh and aah over some crystal glasses.

I was reminded of a reaction by another friend last week when I presented her with 6 of my cards of local scenes with my poetry on the back. "Oh, I have no use for these" she said as she handed them all back to me.

There are dozens more examples. And they far outweigh the appreciative comments or even token "thank yous"

It's easy to say not to be hurt or diminished by such behaviour as maybe there are some who feel valued only by the money spent on them and not the painstaking love and effort put into a one of a kind creative offering.

But we're both human. And struggling artists. And it's a lonely old world when you spend most of your days in creative solitude.

And an appreciative word doesn't go amiss once in a while.

24 comments:

  1. I don't understand people who are so rude and offhand when someone presents them with such a beautiful and unusual present. How hard is it to show some appreciation, even if you're privately a bit disappointed?

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  2. You can't expect gratitude from people who don't feel grateful. Once upon I time I would do things like this for people I sensed would reject me and who felt superior to me. No more.

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  3. Oh, I know the time and labor and love that goes into making an afhgan! Shame on them. True, you don't make a gift for the oohs and aahs, but it would be nice to know your valuable time and thoughtful efforts were appreciated! I've had the same experience with a few quilts. Needless to say, I'm a quick learner. Such folks don't get a second one. A friend of mine once lovingly stitched a quilt for her daughter, only to find if folded up on the floor in daughter's basement on her next visit. It was being used as a dog's bed!

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  4. Nick:
    As I read your comment, I suddenly thought - these giftees wouldn't know craft or artistry from a hole in the ground, so naturally have no appreciation for it!
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Hattie:

    Very sensible. I will be far more careful in future with these painstaking gifts!!

    XO
    WWW

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  6. Molly:

    Pearls to swine indeed! I am horrified with what happened to the quilt.

    I should also mention there are some who treasure my efforts, I was so honoured to see one of my creations displayed in an upstairs hall at a relative's house. I actually cried.

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Because what we make with love becomes part of us before we give it away, having it go unappreciated is like being slapped. I once participated in a guerilla poetry project, where you toss into the world (i.e. hide in the pages of a library book or tie on a tree branch, or leave in an envelope on a park bench) a piece of your own poetry for anyone to find. Once again it's that detachment from the outcome. It puts the emphasis on the act and not the fact that it will or own't be appreciated. I'm still practicing - most such concepts are so much easier said than done.

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  8. Pauline:
    I'm so glad readers are getting this. I had seriously thought of deleting it before posting as it sounded maybe a bit whiney. Detaching from the outcome, of course...
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Ah, WWW - keep giving of yourself and the world will be a better place for it.

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  10. I only give something away that I have created when a person visits my place and shows genuine admiration for it and keeps talking about. And it has to be a person I care about a lot. I don't assume that just anyone will properly appreciate the things that I make.

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  11. People who never held a needle in their hands, have no appreciation for the time, design and effort that goes into craft work.

    Once I was asked to translate a photograph into needlework. I obliged. The time involved in the actual execution of the work, was two full working days. That was after a day working on the design and gathering the fabrics, linings and threads the I needed. Fortunately they all came from my work room stash. The lady was delighted with the results and she asked how much she owed me, when in fact she was hoping it would be a 'Thank You' job.

    I called her bluff, told her how many hours I worked on it and approximately how much the materials had cost. She almost fell over in shock. Mind you, my price was very much on the low side and did not allow any margin for profit.

    This woman's husband was a wood turner, a very talented man, He was known for charging very high prices for his work. He would expect at least three if not four times what I was charging for an hours work. When I explained this to the women, she was horrified and came back with

    “ But… but… my husband is a wood turner, this is only needlework”!

    “ONLY needlework! If it was ‘only needlework’ and so easy to do, why did you not do it yourself?” I said, holding out my hand for the money.

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  12. Pauline:
    You are so encouraging, thank you.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Irene:

    Ah, assumption makes an "ass" out of me.

    it is so much quicker to write a cheque for gifts or pick up some tat.

    And here I thought I was giving heirlooms. LOL.

    :)

    XO
    WWW

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  14. GM:

    Having witnessed the amount of hours (months and months) that went into my mother's embroidered tablecloths I know whereof you speak. And the hundreds of hours that went into my own knitted creations....

    Did she pay you? I do hope so. I can't imagine translating that photo into embroidered work.

    I am heartened to be understood in this hesitant post of mine!!

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Wise Web Woman, I may be a swine but your pearls are not wasted on me. In fact, I slowly but steadily pick up on your "back catalogue".

    The relationship between gift, giver and the one given often a difficult one. I believe few of us not guilty of not recognizing what the giver's intention and how easily we (the recipients) will cast aside a present. I have been rude (not intentionally) to the point of being dismissive. Can't say I am proud of it.

    On the other hand I have cherished awful stuff. The stuff being awful, but the giver so very very very important to me. Nearly had a fight with my freshly baked husband over a hideous wedding present my sister gave us. He suggested that I might just drop it (accidentally). I was livid. Do your own dirty work. Hideous or not.

    One thing I do not buy into, sorry WWW and GM, that the amount of time you put into producing a gift makes it more valuable. It doesn't - to the recipient. I have friends in the world of art who will (literally) price their work by the amount of hours it took them to create it. Needless to say they are painstakingly perfectionists. So it takes forever. And how much is an hour worth? Mine, theirs, yours? I spend many an hour, sat cleaning the bathroom, for which I don't expect 'payment' or even a thank you.

    Scant comfort, WWW. Main thing in life is to take pride in what you do and to remember that once you have GIVEN a GIFT it's not any longer yours. But, yes, I agree a thank you does go a long way. Mind you, not that I am a mind reader: I'd rather have no thanks than an insincere, perfunctory, one.

    And I shall never forget how my poor father left the house in the morning with a bright yellow, very long and very thin, tie knitted for him, lovingly, by his eldest then nine year old daughter (that's me). That was proof in the pudding.

    U

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  16. Philistines! I don't understand it either. I've never spent so long on a homemade gift as you spent on the Afghan, but I have made a lot of collages (cards, bookmarks, larger pieces) as gifts for people and the reactions vary enormously: from sincere appreciation to a complete blank. The latter – when it goes totally unacknowledged – is pretty weird to me.

    Gorgeous blues and greens in the photo, by the way. It's quite the landscape.

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  17. First, ANY gift represents thoughtfulness on the part of the giver and it's insanely rude to be cavalier about it or not thank the person at all. I don't even understand that kind of behavior.

    But at the risk of offending, I'd like to offer an alternative viewpoint here. And I'm not talking about home-made things that someone has asked you to make, like Grannymar's story (that's appalling!). I'm talking about unsolicited gifts. The post made me think about the trickiness of giving homemade gifts. I've had patients bring me things they've made that are so not me - like an crocheted afghan in pinks, a color I have no where in my house. Or a friend who gave me a framed photo he had taken that just wasn't the sort of thing I like (it was a man on an escalator and I don't like images of people in my walls - they give me the heebies). I was grateful that these people thought enough of me to make something for me, but then left with a dilemma about what to do with the object, particularly now as I move more and more toward semi-minimalism. My own spiritual leanings include not holding on to things that I don't use. And just because someone decided to put hours into making it, it doesn't change the equation. So, while I appreciate the thought and the effort that someone might put into making me something, I might still not want the actual item.

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  18. Absolutely unacceptable behaviour. They need a dose of Carolyn Hax, such people.

    You gift me with an Afghan WWW and see what happens. (The capital is deliberate and I hope that it brings a smile on your face.)

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  19. Ursula:
    Oh I love that yellow tie on daddy story, precious!!
    I get your point about the hours, they are of my choosing but a wee acknowledgement, surely? - wouldn't go amiss....
    XO
    WWW

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  20. Stan:
    Philistines indeed!
    Yes the silence is baffling and hurtful but today I had something lovely happen. I sent out the card shown here as a thank you to couple friends who had made a lovely CD for me and he raved about it on FB and found "a special place" for it in their home, etc.
    It made up for a lot!!
    XO
    WWW

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  21. SAW:
    Yes, I've been given gifts by clients that hardly made it past my front door and were re-gifted promptly or donated.
    Appalling stuff with shredded newspaper hanging off wood sticks, etc. to give one example.
    Fish and poison (poisson), that old trope, comes to mind.
    XO
    WWW

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  22. Ramana:

    If I can catch an Afghan, I will certainly ship to you. I assume you're talking the hound?
    :)
    XO
    WWW

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  23. I wasn't meaning things that would look horrid to anyone. The crocheted pink afghan was actually lovely and well-made. Just not something I needed or wanted. I don't know the fish and poison thing, but there is definitely an eye of the beholder aspect to all this. I'm not an artist, but I can give an example from the viewpoint of a cook. If I invite someone over for dinner, and put a lot of time and effort into making that person a good meal, I will be mightily offended if the first thing they do, before even tasting, is ask for soy sauce or hot sauce. This has happened to me more than once. On both occasions, I made a silent vow never to cook for someone that rude again. On the other hand, if I've made something that the person doexn't really care for and they are pleasant and thank me, but don't eat much, I'm not offended. Some people aren't big, seafood fans, and unless they specifically asked me to make them, say, cioppino, I can't expect them to eat it enthusiastically if it isn't something they would normally be happy eating. This is why many years ago I instituted a policy of always asking before I fed someone the first time if there were any foods they had allergies to or just didn't like, and then I make sure I don't serve those things. Saves both me and the guest grief.

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  24. SAW:
    Point taken, thanks for clarifying!
    The quote is:
    "One man's fish is another man's poison."
    Apropos re cooking also:)
    Yes, I've had a request for ketchup when I've served curry. *cringe*. And I don't even stock ketchup except when Grandgirl visits but I think her palate is becoming more sophisticated!
    XO
    WWW

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