I’ve been re-reading my copy of Pam England’s Birthing from Within during this pregnancy (a wonderful read that I recommend to every pregnant person), and have been strongly desiring to make some birth art.
I wanted to when I first read Pam’s book with my last pregnancy in 2008, but I was working outside the home a LOT then and just could never really find the time. I did make a mei tai baby carrier and a few other more “practical” items before baby arrived in Jan. 2009, but I never quite got down to the really artsy stuff I so strongly desired.
Now, I am *not* a crafty person at all. I can sew, as long as I don’t use a pattern, and occasionally I have a stroke of pure genius and come up with something really cool. But that doesn’t happen very often…once a year, if I’m lucky. I have always chalked this up to my creative self being expressed through movement, when I dance. As a mom of three (soon to be four) kids, I don’t find it as easy to dance as I used to. I miss this creative outlet on a daily basis and I long for my return to it. My feelings of less-than where craftiness is concerned is exacerbated by the fact that I am surrounded, literally, by incredibly crafty women. I have friends who knit, crochet, sculpt, draw, photograph, etc. This is wonderful when Christmas or birthdays roll around, but sometimes it leaves me feeling a little, well, left out. I want to craft. I want to be a crafty person who can whip up a pair of socks like they’re nothing and come up with a homemade gift in five minutes or less.
Today, though, I think I found a little bit of the crafter stuck way deep inside. I used two models and came up with some gifts for an upcoming Mother Blessing as well as a few other trinkets for myself and clients. Turns out, sculpey (brand name for a type of polymer clay) is pretty easy to work with once you get your footing!
I used whatever I could find from Wal-Mart, the plain gray kind that comes in a big hunk. To start with, I pulled out a plaster Venus of Willendorf type goddess figurine and a homemade (with sculpey!) birth goddess given to me by my friend Molly. I tore of big piece of the clay and started kneading it in my hands. Pretty soon, it was soft enough to easily mold into shapes. I wanted to make a tiny Venus who could stand on her own two feet. After much trial and error, I finally got a pretty decent looking lady. Unfortunately, I left her unguarded for mere seconds and my toddler decided to help by mashing her into the cookie sheet she was sitting on. Supposedly, there’s supposed to be something Zen about making things meant to be given away and/or consumed, but I’m here to tell you there is NOTHING Zen about making something you’re incredibly proud of and having your son smash it to smithereens. Sheesh!
Next, I decided to go in a different direction and make a mothering figure. Since my friend feels a deep connection to seated mountain pose, I wanted to incorporate that into the figure. She’s holding a baby in a sling though, so the arms needed to go down instead of up. She came fairly easily from my hands and before I knew it she had hair, boobs and baby! I originally intended to paint her after she cooked, but she seemed to perfect to mess with, so she’ll remain colorless unless her new owner decides to paint her.
After that, I felt confident enough to retry the Venus of Willendorf. Unfortunately, I’m not as pleased with her. To me, she looks like a lumpy Frosty the Snowman with Queen Latifah-esque boobs (think Mama in Chicago). I debated whether or not she was good enough for my friend (remember, my friend is the birth goddess making goddess), but I eventually decided that while she may not be perfect, she was crafted with a loving hand with the best of intentions. The energy I put into her, I feel, makes up for her somewhat lumpy appearance.
Making those two pieces left me wanting more! I was having fun and it felt therapeutic somehow to be working with this medium creating pieces that reflect where so much of my heart lies…pregnant and birthing women. Oh! I tried to make a squatting woman with baby head crowning, but I couldn’t quite get the logistics of that one! I’ll be working towards that, though. 🙂
I tried making a finger labyrinth similar to The Mandala Journey’s creation, but realized quickly that I would not be able to do that just yet at my level of expertise (read: novice to childlike). This led me to think about other shapes, easier shapes, that might be comforting to touch in labor. Personally, I love the curve of women’s bodies, especially when they are ripe with child. What better way to celebrate that than with a little palm belly that I could thumb? So, that’s what I did. Easy peasy. The first one I made I drew a spiral on the belly with a toothpick. The next one I made I added nipples to the breasts. I love them and they are just the right size to fit in your hand and be thumbed easily. They are also smooth to the touch, which pleases my fingers.
The moral of the story? If you want to make something, go grab some clay and MAKE IT! If I can do it, so can you. Have fun!