Monday, August 7, 2017

HandmadeMN: Celebrating the gifts and inspiration of the harvest!

"Seed Machine" print (detail) by Kelly Newcomer

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Early August was an occasion for celebrating the beginning of the harvest season for the ancient Celts, with games and festivals in honor of the Irish god Lugh, who was believed to have started the late summer festival known as Lughnasadh (meaning Lugh's Assembly, or something like that) in honor of his mother.

"Hiawatha" botanical art print by Lisa Rydin Erickson

Artists and crafters have always taken inspiration from the garden and from the harvest. I found several examples of harvest- and garden-inspired art made by members of HandmadeMN, and a few crafting supplies for your own projects, to illustrate this brief essay. Click on the captions to view the items in more detail and even purchase them if you like.

"Indian Corn" art print from Cindy Lindgren

Some artists even use materials from the fields, such as seeds as mosaic pieces, well-known in Minnesota as seed art or crop art. HandmadeMN maker Kelly Newcomer wrote about that last summer in this blog post you might enjoy.

Cotton fabric available from Anna Tere Designs

Back to Lughnasadh and first-harvest celebrations: One of many legends casts Lugh as the hero in a battle for the fruits of the harvest, which he wins, and then gives the food to humankind.

Illustrated Bible quote by All Things Jane

The festival was later Christianized, sometimes with St. Patrick as the hero who saves the harvest, and adapted as Lammas, or Loaf Mass, to bless the bread baked from the first grains of the season. Scottish bannocks, a type of unsweetened oat biscuit, are associated with this tradition.

Honeycomb earrings made with reclaimed beer bottle glass, by Western Art Glass

Nowadays, I think we could say that our county and state fairs are a kind of early harvest festival, and in that way we carry on those ancient agrarian rituals, with accompanying art and crafts inspired by, and sometimes made from, the harvest.

Corn-filled heating pad by Warm Hugs Corn Bags