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The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Chapter 1: The First Artist

I'm joining Cindy of Ordo Amoris as she leads a book club through Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  I first read this book as a young newlywed in the late 1980's and have revisited it several times since then.  Hidden Art has shaped the way I think about homemaking and just how important it is to a family's well-being.  Through this book I began to see homemaking as so much more than the drudgery modern feminists make it out to be.  Not only is it important, it is creative

[Man] was made in the image of a Creator, and given the capacity to create--on a finite level of course, needing to use the materials already created--but he is still the creature of a Creator. (p.24)

Man, because he is limited, has a very limited choice.  He is limited by time, as well as talent.  He is limited by the resources at his disposal as well as in the skill to use what he has. (p.25) 

The thread that runs through these two quotations from the book is that of limitations.  I am limited in the time I have to spend on any aspect of homemaking as well as the money to spend on it.  My talent and natural abilities are also limited.  But it is by working with and within these limitations that I have found my creativity flourishing.  If one has unlimited time and money for an undertaking, then there is less need for creativity, for making it all work out with what one's got.  It's when I have set boundaries that I am forced to think and approach a project from many different angles until I can achieve what I want with what I've got.  The results are much more satisfying, personal, and artistic than if I just threw endless money and time at something. 

The great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky felt the same way.  When given a commission for a piece of music, he liked to have some limitations placed on him:  instrumentation, length, form, etc.  In having some choices narrowed for him, he was free to pursue his musical ideas within the strictures of the commission, which resulted in a higher degree of creativity.  When given a completely blank slate, there was so much to decide on, so many possibilities.  Stravinsky knew that there is freedom within limits.


  1. You make a great point about limitations being a catalyst to creativity! I have experienced that firsthand...and the converse of it as well.

    So nice to have a "visit" from you at Thinking About Home. It seems like we have a bit in common in our homemaking philosophy. :)

    About the needlework in my header...
    My great-aunt was an educator/guidance counselor, and upon her retirement, a friend and co-worker gave her this hand-stitched piece. When Aunt M. declined in health and had to move in with a niece, she gave the piece to me. Like your needlework from your grandmother, mine is a treasure too!

    One more interesting tidbit...if you've ever watched the Christmas movie "The Christmas Shoes"..."my" needlework is hanging on the wall Ellen Layton's living room! :)


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