making: drop-in dye day


i've had a number of friends and acquaintances mention at various points that they'd like to join me while i have my dye pots on. sometimes, committing to a class just doesn't make sense - it's a big financial commitment, you need to have several hours available, and sometimes you don't really want to learn all the things because you just want to dye that one shirt or scarf or set of napkins. 

as a maker and femme who lives in a capitalist society that doesn't value me or my work (you try to quantify the dollar value of reviving handmade family heirloom textiles or successfully charge someone for every hour of work that goes into something knitted at the same rate they'd pay an IT professional and then let me know how that goes), figuring out how to engage with money has been tricky to say the least. how do i ensure that my business is able to sustain me and allow me to live comfortably (cover all my bills, ensure i have consistent access to nutritious food at all times, have some savings to create a cushion in the event of a health crisis or emergency, and allow me to invest in myself and by extension my friends and community through attending performances, traveling to celebrate big life moments like weddings or the results of an important art residency, and having meaningful social connections without worrying whether a coffee date will make a bill payment bounce), while at the same time allowing me to stay accessible for all the people who also are battling these issues, often with way more barriers and layers of oppression getting in the way? how do i continue to engage in community care and providing my services, which i believe have inherent value because art and making have inherent value, to everyone regardless of whether they can pay me or not?

that's where this drop-in dye day came into play. realistically, i can't just invite people over every time i have my dye pots on the go. they're pretty much always on these days, and i work with them in between all my other daily work - day job work, paperwork, knitting deadlines, laundry, cooking meals. how can i honour my time and other people's time? by committing to being present for the period that they're around me, and placing boundaries for when that time is so that we can all make the most of it together. how can i ensure that i'm still valuing my expertise and my work while keeping things accessible? by changing up the format - instead of being in "teaching" mode, i'll just be working, and available to answer questions and engage in discussion without having any major structure to how that flows. by setting aside a specific day where i will get a bunch of my own work done (i have 3kg of wool to dye right now) while offering up access to that process and those pots. by covering my basic material costs without charging my teaching rate on top of that.

i'm not sure what this whole conversation looks like long-term. i know i want to continue increasing my accessibility to my community, and i know i want to be in a position to do that from a healthy place, which means i need money to cover my living costs and stay healthy (which means nutritious food, lots of sleep - re: less hustle -, ability to take time off from work to regenerate, and reduced stress). 

i think sometimes we can feel guilty about being (or trying to be) in a place where we are financially stable (i highly recommend this episode from the have company podcast about that whole topic), especially when we come from a background of grassroots activism and the bizarrely frequent race-to-the-bottom mentality of "i'm in a worse position than you" game that seems to be played constantly on the left. when we are rooted in anti-capitalist politics, we can get reduced to the idea that "money is bad" without looking at the realities of "working within a capitalist society means we need some money to cover basic functions while figuring out how to fuck with it in other ways while we work to overthrow it." here's how i'm choosing to fuck with capitalism - come hang out with me, learn how to make beautiful things (or things more beautiful) using weeds and compost and other stuff that our society claims have no value, and only pay me enough to keep me in the same place where i'm at now. gain an experience and learn something new without draining my resources so that we can continue doing things like this. keep one another's cups filled. when we are in a stable position, we have more freedom to make a wider variety of choices. when we have capacity (emotionally, physically, mentally), we can more easily meet people where they are at. when we aren't worried about whether we can buy enough groceries this month, we can share what we have more freely. 


the drop-in dye day is on saturday, june 2, 2018. i'll have the doors opened at 10am and we'll keep going until 4pm. there will be dye pots on the burners and an indigo vat on the go, and there will be fresh kombucha and snacks. i hope you can join me.

ash alberg