My Oneshirt project has several origins, each of them providing an opportunity to examine craftsmanship, sustainability, design, science, and history. I guess I will start with the word “craftsmanship”. As a lifelong feminist, my eye is often snagged on the word “man” but, as I tell my students, in many cases, the chunk of “man” in a word actually comes from Manual, coming from “hand” instead of from the universal human. This means that Craftsmanship could be rewritten Craftshandship and that feels so real and essential to my experiences as a Craftsman or Craftshand.
Hands are amazing and our relationship with them can be so complex but unexamined. I depend on my hands to do so many things but making or crafting is my favorite hand task. My handiwork, my making skills, makes me proud and fills my day. The subtle vibrations of a surface as felt through the tip of a tool and communicated to my hand tells my brain so much about the world and the shape of what I making or the make of what I am shaping.
I can so clearly recall sitting perched on a stool in the Tailor Shop of my (now) good friend Valdene Mintzmyer in Lincoln’s Haymarket District. As a 22yr old college student, I was grappling with disillusionment over my future prospects. My rush to college began early (I am a high school dropout) but college did not provide the complete realization that I had been promised by literature. How to become, who to become, we all remember that deep concern of our young adulthood. Valdene, who was just becoming my friend, asked me in kindness “what do you want to do with your life”. I answered “I want to become a craftsman and own my own business”. I joke now that she replied “boy, do I have a deal for you” , but whatever she replied, it was almost no time at all that I began an apprenticeship with her and began the journey of my life, stepping through the journeyman door towards mastery of my craft.
Oneshirt has been a project focused on using my crafthandship and making skills to solve a real problem in my life, the challenge of what to wear. Use it or lose it, is what they say, and after years of higher education administrative hoo-ha, I felt I was loosing touch with my skill of touch. Getting back “in touch” with my hands as the vital tools that allow me to realize my inner vision in solid form is an essential goal of this project.