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Let Us Create Beauty, as published in Home Magazine, (March, 1932)


"Let Us Create Beauty"

I believe if we took up some handicraft in our free moments we would be happier. There are many kinds of embroidery, weaving, leather and brass work that we could master, and I feel sure such occupation would prove far more interesting than speeding somewhere and back again in an automobile. It would be work into which we could put a spirit of play, and that is what we so sadly need in this age of machinery and monotonous routine.

The best work is that which we do when we experience the joy of creation - when we feel that it is a part of ourselves, our child as it were which we are proud to show to others. Millet, the French artist, was obliged to paint signs to earn a living, but that was not his best work. In his leisure house he painted his masterpieces, "The Angelus" and "The Gleaners." for the sheer love of painting.

All of us are not as gifted as Millet, but I think if we would only try, we should be surprised to find how many touches of loveliness we could impart to the prosaic, work-a-day life about us.

If we could become more aware of the power within us to give form and color to our individuality, we should have a joyous sense of beauty in common things. There is an individuality, a friendliness in things made by hand that are not to be found in the perfect machine product.

Things we do with our hands develop us. The perfect way to spoil a child is to do everything for him.

Who has not noticed that when a child is left to himself he is always dong something? He is a little mechanic fashioning the world to his own fancy.

Let us learn from our children and do things with our own hands for the mere joy of it. Making things opens the mind as naturally as extracting food from the soil opens the flowers.

The forms of life change from age to age, but fundamental human needs never change. We must, by all means, give vent to our creative faculties and try to develop our sense of color, form and design. The thought I am anxious to express and have understood is this- things we do ourselves make us happy. All sound handiwork is beautiful and has joy in it. Work that has not joy in it is drudgery and slavery.

We often say that we would do these delightful thing if it were not for the ever-present, stern necessity of earning our daily bread. But there are always hours or half hours when we might turn our thoughts away from this necessity and find rest in some expression of ourselves. How wonderful it would be if we should breathe into the dull substance of life the breath of a vivid personality!

We have been led to think so much of great things and great performances that we have gone far towards drying up the fresh wells in our souls from which the more specialized arts flow. When we look at common things with seeing eyes, we shall discover in them the magic of poetry.

We may laugh at the Victorians because of their sentimentalism and prosiness, but they knew and loved the beauty of common things.

Both plain sewing and weaving are foundational arts. In ancient times weaving was the typical art of the peoples. Into fabrics that still excite admiration after thousands of years they wove their faith, their songs, their love of flowers and birds. This occupation had a wholesome effect upon woman, it kept her fingers busy, her movements placid and her thoughts free to wander at will, or rest upon some loved object.

Mothers, older sisters and teachers can do much now and here if they encourage children in their natural inclination towards drawing or some other handicraft. If this is done, a generation will grow up that is more easily entertained and wiser in the art of being happy.

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