Today we’re joined by Kate. Kate is another Asexual Artists first: they make soap and lanterns. They also sew quite a lot, entirely by hand. They sew period garb, which is beautiful. Their soaps and lanterns are also incredibly beautiful. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
(The first question under the “asexuality” section has potentially triggering material in it)
Please, tell us about your art.
I make soap – that’s the day job, actually, and I sell it under the name The Vagabond Tabby. I used to buy a lot of handmade soap – I LOVE the stuff – and finally decided I might as well just start playing with it. And play really is the word – I love playing with different scents, different combinations, different colours & patterns & textures.
Sewing is the oldest of my arts, actually – I got started when I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism a zillion years ago, & needed medieval-style clothing to wear. I’m crappy and horrible at using sewing machines, so I finally gave up & started sewing everything by hand – it takes a lot longer, yes, but I find it can be very meditative, I have complete control over where each stitch goes (if not necessarily what the fabric’s doing at the time), & I can bring it along & work on it almost anywhere.
After years of making period garb I’ve branched out into … well, ‘mundane’ isn’t at all the right word, but non-SCA clothing. I’m currently on a swirly-dresses kick. With lace. Kinda mori girl? Ish?
I’ve also (pretty recently) started making lanterns from jars & wire. They’re nearly entirely made from reused stuff & that makes me happy – the jars are from whatever I’ve been eating, I got the wire from my brother-in-law who fixes various sorts of engines for a living, & I’ve gotten some of the beads from thrift stores & such. Some of the beads are new, but they’re the only new parts.
And just before I got the email with these questions I wrapped some mint & lavender I got from the garden into smoke cleansing bundles! Can’t wait to see how they turn out once they’re dried.
What inspires you?
Oh, wow. Lots of stuff. I’ve actually gotten a lot of my best soap ideas from friends & customers (& there’s a lot of overlap there, too). I made a massage oil once that was based on a lovely piece of erotic slash fanfic written by a friend. I have hundreds of Pinterest pins with ideas for the sewing (& embroidery & other sorts of embellishments, too). Tumblr of course – I follow several witchy people & they post such interesting things. Sometimes I just let my mind drift – either I think about a piece of fabric or strand of beads I’ve had sitting around for a while & contemplate what I’ll do with it, or I’ll find a place to sit (in nature or in a crowd of people, either will work) & just watch, with my eyes not really focused, to see what catches my attention.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
To be entirely honest I stumbled upon the concept of artist-as-living well before I actually started thinking of myself as an artist (& I’m still convincing myself of the latter). I was working at Walmart & it was horrible (I bet you, noble readers, if you can at all afford to not spend your money at Walmart – please do so somewhere else – & if that’s the only place you can afford to shop, please don’t feel bad about it; I still spend money there, too, because I often don’t have much of a choice). I’d thought about starting a bath & body stuff business before (it was mostly bath salts, then, & has expanded a lot) & I finally decided that I could stay at Walmart & be broke, miserable, & sick, or I could start my own business & be broke, but probably pretty happy otherwise.
Actually thinking of myself as an artist…that’s taken a lot longer. And a lot of people telling me what I do IS art & that I AM an artist. And occasionally I manage to believe them for a little while.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Oh, wow. I guess I sort of don’t? At all? I hadn’t even though of such a thing! Signatures are for Fine Artists who Paint Art! *cue art-related anxiety again*
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Do you thing! Just do it (yeah I know, slightly cliché). Don’t worry about messing up. I’m not saying you won’t mess up, I’m saying you WILL & that’s okay. So many, many things I’ve tried to do & I couldn’t do them right away & I thought, well, scratch that one off the list, & that’s totally NOT TRUE, you’ve got to screw up (& sometimes screw up a LOT) before you’re gonna get any good at your thing.
Also, keep trying different things. Those last couple years of high school, when everyone’s asking you what you’re gonna major in in college & what you’re gonna do when you graduate & you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has NO IDEA? That’s…you’re not alone. You are SO not alone. Keep trying different stuff & sometimes come back to things you tried a couple years ago & that just weren’t quite right because now they might be. Or they might not, & that’s okay too! I’m 43 and I’m just figuring out what I really want to do with my life, & that’s OKAY, you don’t have to be in a hurry at ALL.
…although coming up with a nice pat answer to tell well-meaning parents & grownups in the meantime can make life a LOT easier.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Demi-grey-ish? I’m sort of still figuring this out myself, so. I’m not sex-repulsed. I do, sometimes, at times, enjoy the physical part of sex. If I never have sex with another person again I am 5000% okay with that. If I wind up with the right person, & they wanna (but aren’t jerks about it) & I’m in a good place for it? Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s just sort of pretty meh, with a side of anxiety because of horrible ex who felt like if I didn’t want to have sex every time he wanted to that I clearly didn’t love him enough. (This should likely be trigger warning-ed but I am not sure how to phrase it?) When I do find myself looking at a person who I find physically appealing (& there ARE people I find physically appealing), I mostly just wanna snuggle them a LOT.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In my field, no. I am sort of ridiculously lucky that way? I wander along & do my thing & people don’t bug me about it. It’s sort of lovely. I wish I could share it around.
In personal relationships? There was the horrible ex. I’m not dating anyone right now & don’t particularly plan to, so it’s become sort of a non-issue.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Oh gods the bad ‘asexual human = asexual reproduction like in flatworms’ jokes, I just wanna smack people, TURNS OUT I’VE HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE, 3562470689 TIMES, SHUT. UP.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
If anyone gives you any shit over it, bite em.
…okay, probably not. But your orientation is valid. People tell you, you just haven’t found the right one yet? They’re wrong. Your orientation is valid. Someone says you’re just saying it for the attention? They’re wrong. Your orientation is valid. You’re only a teenager/in your twenties/whatever and can’t possibly know that yet? They’re wrong. Your orientation is valid.
It’s just a phase? They’re wrong. YOUR ORIENTATION IS VALID.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
The soap (& other herbal stuff) is at my website: http://TheVagabondTabby.com
I also blog about the business (& also cats & witchy stuff) at: http://thevagabondtabby.tumblr.com/
I (very occasionally) post my lanterns at: http://onefurtivelight.tumblr.com/ (mostly it’s just reblogging stuff with light in it)
& my main Tumblr (cats, pretty clothing, ace stuff, whatever catches my fancy): http://kediil-eperu.tumblr.com/
Thank you, Kate, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.