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Monday, July 29, 2013

Encouraging Creativity: Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!

Hello Friends!   I took a hiatus from blogging for several months to regroup and ask myself, "what is it that I want this blog to do?"    And my self said back, "to encourage creativity in others!"   So with my new found purpose and my old philosophies about the intersection of art and faith, I blog on!

I am philosophical by nature--I muse about lots of things.  The other day I was musing about recyclables.  This is nothing new for an artist or crafter--we dream about the discarded and the new life we can bring them.  The only thing new about my musings was the scale.  I was imagining toilet paper roll pyramids and Clorox Wipes container columns.  Right now I have amassed a nice pile of Kleenex hand towel containers cause they just look like they should BE something.   And one day the perfect use for them will hit me and I'll say, "I've got it!"  A giant light bulb will appear above my head and I'll make millions on Etsy selling my new fangled creation.   But the probable event is that I'll just whip out the glue, fabric and sewing machine and try something.

Creativity is a process.   I'm not saying there aren't people out there who had an idea and on the first try simultaneously invented something fabulous AND got the cover of Martha Stewart, but that's the minority.   Creativity is a God-given impulse, but it's not ONLY that-- its something we must nurture.  We've gotta try things.   How do we know that hot gluing on a sewing project is likely a poor combination?  Cause we've broken the sewing machine needles running over the glue.  So yes, you can hang your head at the bin of unfinished, half-realized projects and call yourself a failure or you can think about all the things you learned getting to this point.   Maybe its in the pile because its not done challenging you yet.   And maybe you've boxed your ideas in to the point that you can't hear what the project is trying to tell you.   Don't consider what it might be in the realm of what you've already seen, make up a NEW something.  

Challenge:  Find a project in your bin of half-finished things that you were initially really excited about.  Something derailed the project or it wouldn't be there.   Now that time has passed, is there now a product or tool that would help you to realize your intentions?  Or is it time to look at it with all new eyes?    From my own bin I see a reversible table runner with textured Christmas fabric on one side and a neutral on the other side.  It didn't lay flat when sewing it.  Its pretty, but it has bunches and puckers on the side seams and the textured fabric makes ripping out all the seams a headache.  There's a nice layer of felt between two layers of pretty fabric.  Its about 50 inches long, 14 inches wide.  Here are my new project ideas for this not so perfect table runner:

1) Coasters.  With the felt in the middle seems like a perfect idea.  I estimate I could get 60 out of this so maybe a good item for my Etsy shop.
2)  Placemats.  Maybe when cutting it apart I could cut out the sections that didn't lay correctly.
3)  Christmas stockings.  Maybe too bulky with the felt, but worth a try.
4)  Dog bowl mat.
5)  Cut it into strips and make flowers out of it.

And these are just the first five that came to mind.  If I gave it a few more minutes I'd probably have 10 more ideas.  The point?  You judge a project at the end when its complete, not while its still an idea.  Dig into your unfinished project bin and sit with something for a minute and ponder the possibilities. Don't dwell on what didn't work, ponder what might be!   And don't limit yourself to just a variation on things that are already out there--make something entirely new that the world doesn't even know it needs yet!

Have a creative, inspired day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Art in Every day Items

The pen & ink drawing above is an example of my love of the art found in every day items.  A stray pattern piece has been repurposed as the canvas for this drawing of a spool.   I've recently listed some sewing-themed gifts because crafty people are often hard to buy for--afterall they're so creative we know they could just make stuff themselves and its a little intimidating!

The functional lines and messages in a pattern are art in of themselves.  I can often tell the maker of a pattern just by the typography used.  And anyone that sews knows that sometimes we spend a lot of time decoding patterns, like a treasure map. 

I want to encourage you to find art around you this week in the every day things of life--are there any that could actually be made into art?   Are you brave enough to try?  I'd love to hear what you've done!

Remember, you don't have to have a degree in the arts to be crafty or artistic.  Experiment, and experiment some more!  Give yourself permission to try (and flop)  at something.  With each  experiment, and all of my flops, I learn something new.  It makes me better at my art.  

Find the art all around you in every day items.  Experiement with materials you love.  And have a wonderfully crafty day!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Everyday Olympians

Out of obscurity athletes from all over the world are being praised and crowned with honor this week, cheered on and lifted up as contemporary heroes in the 2012 Summer Olympics.   Some of their stories are quite remarkable--overcoming great odds, financial burden and injuries to stand among the best of the best in the world…Hard fought battles with great rewards.

 Noting the fervor of activity surrounding the Olympics has given me pause to consider all the everyday Olympians that are overlooked.   Consider the small business owner who carefully maneuvers daily to ensure the payroll is maintained and the doors are open...they are heroes in small towns.   Or the teacher who could earn twice the wage in an occupation requiring less effort but is passionate about students and learning... they teach our future generations with little thanks.  Or consider the farmer who maintains his small piece of the earth preserving a family tradition in an era of strip malls on prime soil.  Where are the medals for these remarkable persons? 

I love the Olympics as much as the next person...they celebrate the seemingly endless limits of the human body and spirit.   We should also consider our everyday Olympians--those that work hard day after day to make our lives better, who continue time honored work and traditions.  Let's celebrate them as they daily run the race...they are so much of what makes the world great.

Think about it:   Are there persons you feel are undervalued or underappreciated in society?   You may not be able to tackle the whole problem, but is there someway in which your point of view toward these persons might be cause for some action on your part?  

Have a creative day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independent Day

I remember as a kid I wanted to do everything myself.  I was very independent.  And I still am.  Dependence on others isn't a bad thing, but I'll confess I don't ask for help for very much.   So as we ponder our freedoms tomorrow we should also ponder from what we would like to be independent of  (spouses and children are exempt, sorry!)  

I would like to be independent of worry, the now & then feelings of defeat, the voice that says "that's impossible!" and independent of  debt and about 50 lbs.  We should wave flags tomorrow and see fireworks and ponder all the ways that we can be free of the things that keep us dependant.  Maybe you want to be off a medication, or to be free of your assorted piles.  Maybe you want to be free of regret or your timidity.   Maybe you want to be free of fear or weeds. Whatever it is, there's only one way to start the freedom: you have to start!   Do something, anything.  Try something else if that doesn't work.   Don't listen to those pesky doubts and don't be easily discouraged--one small step every day til the piles or the pounds or medication is gone.   Be independent on this Independence Day--see every firework and sparkler as my personal message of encouragement to you.  Celebrate freedom and celebrate YOU!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Craft Wars = Ridiculousness

From my last post you know that I thought the idea of the show Craft Wars on TLC was pretty ridiculous.  And now that I've seen it, its been confirmed: RIDICULOUSNESS!

The reality-show formula of expert panel of judges meets contestants vying for prize, round 1 eliminations, public critiques and ridiculous challenges is still alive and well in Craft Wars.   There is nothing new or clever in this show, the challenges are a bit extreme for the time limits and the judges scold contestants with statements akin to, "everyone knows you can't do THAT!"  I love crafting because there aren't any rules, boxes or norms--its whatever one can achieve however they achieve it.    Hasn't this show boxed in the craft world a bit with such commentary? 

Let's not overlook the commercialism in this 'reality' programming.  Its a marketing heyday for Michaels Craft Stores under the guise of a competition.   You'd never find me on this show!  The contestants are puppets exploited in TLC's quest for ratings.  The title for the show is awful & ratings are achieved by juvenile interviews, contrived drama and matter-of-fact commentary by the judges in a field which is everything but matter-of-fact.  Can we structure a show in a way that might yield true television-worthy moments, candid and meaningful information and real emotions?   And must every reality show have a panel of three judges?  Is that another hard and fast rule I'm not familiar with?

For a show supposedly all about creativity, Craft Wars isn't very creative at all.  A tired reality-show formula and a contrived war premise makes this a flop for me.   

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Craft + War? Really?

The words craft and war seem to be mismatched.  Apparently the American appetite for competitive reality programming isn't satiated enough with Ninja Warriors, The Amazing Race or the Olympics for that matter.  We now need crafting to be a cut throat competitive world?!?

When the concept for Design Star was originally announced it made me bristle a little.  If its one thing I love about true artists and artisans is that they are generous with their time, expertise and materials--exactly contrary to the spirit of the show.  And now television programming introduces us to Craft Wars as a way to find the best crafter in America.  Here's the reality of this not-so-real world-- while there are 'rules' about scale and color and balance etc, in the end, design--and especially crafts--are largely subjective.  Every rule ever established has been broken or replaced with new rules--Black is the new brown, etc.    So why make it an Olympic-sized goal to make crafting of all things so competitive?  It is contrary to spirit of art, creativity and free-flowing ideas. 

One of the reasons I'm creative and crafty is because of the positive feelings I get when using interesting and pretty materials.  I like the feel of fabric in my hands as I glide it through the machine, or the feel of wood as I'm sanding it.   I like the experimentation with and manipulation of materials to make new and interesting things.  If I had someone breathing down my neck, stealing materials and looking to sabotage me, I think the crafting experience might resemble Mozart being swapped for a screaming rocker--peaceful to punk in 3.2 seconds.

So, crafting and war will come together in the newest of competitive reality shows.  I have no doubt that good ideas will be displayed--unfortunately it will be directly alongside some horrible behavior.  Behavior that is contrary to true artists and artisans.   We've made everything else competitive, I guess crafting can't escape the drama.  It makes me wonder what's off limits--food, singing, dancing, variety acts, fashion, interior design, chain saw carving, carpentry, dog sled races, and pageants have all had their day.  What's next?  Competitive parenting?   Cut throat gardening?   Graphic designers one-upping each other in Font Wars?   Why don't networks concentrate on programming that promotes collaboration rather than competition?    Or might this suggestion incite a blog war?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Laudry Bottle Caps, Toilet Paper Rolls, & Tin Foil

I heard that a church was seeking supplies for thier vacation bible school week and at the top of the list were three items-- laundry bottle caps, toilet paper rolls and tin foil. know I couldn't just let that go--I had to know what they were making with these things!   I pondered long and hard, my creative juices were flowing so much I was salivating.  What in the world would they use these items for?   I had ideas! 

I paced, I pondered, I imagined.  Was the bottle cap the head, the toilet paper roll the body and the tin foil the feet for some craft-project creature?   What about planting seeds in the laundry detergent caps, making hobo meals on the grill with the tin foil and making homemade marracas with the paper rolls?   Or perhaps the toilet paper rolls were going to be painted bright colors, strung together with tin foil balls between them for a garland?   Maybe the bottle caps were going to be used as sand castle molds?    Oh boy was I flowing with ideas!  Before the day was out I had thought of a myriad of ideas for the three items and I was quite proud of my crafty self for the follow-through.  When it was all said and done I found out the toilet paper rolls were going to be kindling for the camp fire, the tin foil was for leftovers and the bottle caps were going to be used as paint cups.   My creative bubble was deflated.  Where is the imagination?!  Where is the ingenuity?!   Where are my like-minded crafty peeps!? 

So I'm throwing down the challenge--what crafty things could one make with these three things--I'd love to know your ideas!   I know what you're saying--don't get caught up in her post PMS madness--but just do it--may the (creative) force be with you!