Straight From the HeART – Tangerine Washington
Meet Tangerine Washington! (She made those great earrings.) She is extremely kind, funny and supportive. Her interaction with me online has always been genuine and put a smile on my heart so I had to ask her some questions. Wait 'til you ‘hear' a little of her story!
What was the first piece of artwork that you recall ever doing?
‘The first artwork I really remember was finger paint, before I was even school age. I did other things too, like little craft kits my dad would find but I remember the finger paint because it was my favorite thing. Also, because it smelled funny!'
Who are the artists in your family and what is/was their art form?
‘I had an Aunt who did thread crochet, but I never knew it until I was in my 20’s. A Grandmother liked to do embroidery. And, an Uncle played clarinet, piano, and later the organ.'
What inspired you to try crochet?
‘As far back as I can remember, I have always loved not only making things, but figuring out how things are made. At the age of 5, my Mom taught me how to hand-sew so I could make doll clothes; as soon as she left her sewing machine out (she didn’t make things, she used it to mend clothes), I sneaked and imitated what I saw her do; I was around age 6 by then. At the age of 7, at my school we were allowed to go to the school library in place of playground once per week, and I stayed in the arts section all the time. What inspired me to crochet was a how to crochet book I found in the library. I saw the cover and told myself I must learn. Checked it out that day.'
How did you learn to crochet? (What was your process?)
‘Even as a child, I always had an uncanny ability to dissect and follow written directions, with or without pictures (though I prefer with pictures). I asked my dad for a hook and yarn-he did pretty good, brought some knitting worsted and the right size of hook. So in my spare time, I would sit in my room and go through the steps one by one until I had completed them, then I went back and did it all over again. The book only had chain, single, double, and the abbreviations, as well as a brief lesson on reading a written pattern. After I turned the book in, I just kept crocheting until I felt comfortable, then started making up patterns, wonky though they may have been!'
What was the first piece you ever made and how do you feel about it? Do you still have it?
‘The first thing I ever made was during a craft month at my school. They asked those of us who wanted to participate to make our favorite craft. Back to the library, where I found a book on granny squares. By that time, I had begun to take on the skill of making an item from the photograph, so I attempted to make the granny square from the photos in the book. It turned out ok, but the stitches were…upside down, I think is a good description. Instead of groups of 3dc, I was making 3sc clusters, with the loop drawn up so the stitch was longer. It still made an end result that was quite similar to the picture, and gave me motivation to do more and learn more about the craft. Unfortunately, back then I did a lot of re-using of my craft supplies, so it was eventually taken apart to make something else.'
Do you sell your pieces or have you ever considered it?
‘I have sold a few crochet items recently; in the past I have sold other types of craft items by consignment at a local art gallery. I am considering making selling my work a more constant thing.'
This is a beautiful coat she made.
What other art forms do you practice or enjoy?
‘I love all sorts of creative things! I paint (on garments or canvases), I upcycle small furniture and houseware items like end tables, I draw, I knit (I’ve only recently begun to challenge myself with more difficult knitting projects), I make and design jewelry (mostly beadwork), tie-dye, I sew (though not for a long time-getting back to it soon). I'm also a flutist, although I have not played in a VERY long time. I have done a little macramé, decoupage, embroidery/crewel, and many other things which I may have tried and liked but don’t see a use for in my life right now. If I see it and haven’t done it, if I can get the materials chances are I will at least try it.'
How do you find it therapeutic?
‘When there is too much negative noise going on inside my head, crochet and other crafts give me a different focus to take my mind off it. There have been times in the past when I have either drifted from my creativity or in one case due to an injury had to stop for a long period of time, and those became the most stressful dark periods of my life. Being without creativity is like being trapped with your own stress, anxiety, fears, and whatever else may be chasing you inside your own head.'
Do you dream about crocheting?
‘I daydream about it sometimes-usually when I have either seen a new yarn I must try or when I have some new yarn and an idea of what I want to make with it.'
Have you taught anyone to crochet?
‘I’ve never taught anyone to crochet, or anything else. Because I taught myself each of the crafts I know, I have a difficult time reminding myself that not everyone can do that, that some people need to be taught, need to have someone to follow and ask questions of. I’m not a good teacher but I have been able to help others with situations that arise, such as someone getting stuck on a pattern or wondering what to do to finish something. I guess you could say, I am a solver, not a teacher.'
Where do you see your art leading you for the near or distant future?
‘Hopefully my art will at least lead me to be a little less dependent on the mainstream work world. I feel I will always work, but I don’t want that to be my only income focus. The difficult task will be finding that balance between enjoying it while I make money and having it become so much like work that I no longer enjoy it.'
Thanks, Tangerine! I also appreciate your encouragement and outlook. Your kindness is infectious!
If you would like to share your HeART, please don't hesitate to contact.