I've been involved with the Clan MacLeod Society since the year before my solo trip to Scotland in 2009. Each year I get a bit more busy and active, attending all the Highland Games in this part of the state (and we are blessed with several events here) and becoming increasingly involved in volunteering.
I don't like to simply show up, it's much better and more meaningful to find a way to be useful, and find some way to benefit a group or organization along the way. It's a nice feeling, and an addictive one at that, to do something and know you've added some small bit of value somehow.
Our clan booth has seen a little transformation over the past couple of years, as I have been adding to it. My art show grid panels have been utilized in providing us much more display space by making use of vertical space. We hang Penny's collection of tea towels - with wooden clothespins at first, but that seemed rather boring so I painted 24 clothespins with the Lewis and Harris tartans of MacLeod. That was a small thing but their color sure added to the Fun factor. I have paintings inspired from 2009's Scotland backpacking adventure,and since they are locations that are either in or near MacLeod territory they too hang in the tent.
At one point 2 years ago, Penny handed me two cotton tartans from which to make banners. She'd had them for a while but never found enough time to do something with them. Now, how on earth do I make a banner?? Ooh, creative challenge! That right there was enough to inspire many hours of Googling various clan banners, taking photos of other clan banners at events, and trying to decide just how to go about it. I had no experience in making such a thing but I had hand-sewn a fair amount of PNW Native regalia because of involvement with Order of the Arrow (Boy Scouts) and out of pure interest (another case of 'oh this is cool! I wanna learn!). One art form feeds another, so equipped with a simple needle and thread I took what I learned in making regalia and applied it to clan banners. Funny thing - there is a parallel between the two. Button blankets display the wearer's family crest, and a banner does exactly the same thing! No buttons on those banners though, but I did applique a whole lot of seed beads into their designs to add sparkle and pizzazz.
My husband got involved too, with his woodworking interest, and created some very nice upright poles for carrying these banners. He woodburned crisscrossing ribbons into the wood, and then carefully painted in 2 shades of wood stain to make them really stand out. Neither one of us is done with them yet. We just keep adding to them. Matt is going to tool leather to cover the PVC joints on the poles, and I am going to add a crossbar to each for added stability in wind. Lewis is not yet done, but Harris has been marched in all the clan parades last year and this year.
This last weekend Clan MacLeod was honored and privileged to be chosen as the host clan at the Skagit Valley Highland Games. What an overwhelming treat it was for us to lead the clan parade right behind Northwest Junior Pipe Band onto the field! Penny opened the Games both days from the stage - what an honor! I worked until 2 in the morning the day we departed for the event, hand-sewing a heavy backing to the MacLeod Harris banner, which made a big difference in its presentation and behavior on the field. Now - if I can get Lewis to the same state of completion for next year's events, all will be golden. It's good to have a variety of creative outlets that are ongoing.