Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt and Other Helping Hands

I went to the Kata Golda author event at Powell’s last Sunday.  There had been a buzz in the blogosphere about her book, Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt.  I got swept up too and had picked up a copy in advance.  Henrik was unusually upset about me heading out that afternoon.  I showed him the finger puppets on the cover of the book and told him that I was going to learn how to make them.  I hoped Kata had the same idea.

I left a little later than I had hoped, but I encountered no traffic and rolled up to Powell’s early.  There was no parking in the Powell’s block, but I saw some car doors closing in the next block and pulled up in position.  Then the doors opened again.  Two men leaned out of either side of the car to spit.  I wondered if they were actually preparing to leave or just settling in.  The driver saw me waiting.  He again opened his door, got out, raised his arm in the air and then stuck something white a nearby tree.

I realized that it must be his window parking sticker.  I gave a “thank you” wave and he pulled out.  I parked and retrieved the sticker.  It only had about five minutes left on the ticket, but I appreciated the effort.  I grabbed my bag and headed for the ticket dispenser.  I inserted my debit card and navigated through the system.  My card was declined.  I knew my account was running low, but not that low.  I tried again, no luck.  I moved on to my credit card.  At this point a man walked up to me, reached out his arm and asked if I needed change.

I was so flustered I had no idea what to say.  I didn’t understand why the machine was now rejecting my credit card and why a stranger was offering me money.  I politely declined the offer.  There are typically so many panhandlers in that neighborhood.  I felt undeserving of spare change for the meter when there were probably people within the block who could use the money for food.  As I continued to struggle with the machine the man reached out and offered the coins again.  I thanked him and again declined the change.  I finally gave up on plastic and searched for quarters in the car.  I paid the machine and headed to Powell’s.  I was now running late.

Luckily, Powell’s was running late also.  Kata began her presentation by stating that she wanted to tell us “how to make a business out of what you love”.  Her journey to the present day had been filled with many tangents that had led her closer to her current success.  The pathway had not been well marked along the way, but was only visible when looked back upon.  It wasn’t a road map that could be followed by another in order to reach the same goal.

It was inspiring to learn of a successful crafter who did not graduate from art school.  Kata started art school, but found it too restrictive and did not continue.  As I envision the birth of my own craft business I often question my future success knowing that my creativity has not been properly blessed by a formal institution.  For Kata, her successful business had evolved organically from the summation of her collected creative experiences.  Kata loved her work, which had emerged through a new medium, working with felt, and a new approach, improvisational stitching by hand.  As I headed home I felt peaceful knowing that two strangers had held out their hands to me offering help and a third had reminded me that sometimes the journey toward reaching a goal involves many side roads.

I also brought this little mouse home for Henrik.

It started out looking like this,

which was much more than a sum of these parts.  Thanks, Kata!

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