Sunday, December 29, 2013

On creativity...

Sometimes creativity is such a struggle, sometimes it flows so easily, unstoppable, and that's when you know it's true and good and real. When it just pours out of you and it's all you can think about. I think for any creative type that's the moment we're all searching for. I've felt kind of lost for the past few years creatively, burnt out after a couple of pretty successful years of etsy sales, craft shows and a handful of loyal wholesale customers. It was fun, but my heart just wasn't in it any more, but with no idea what to do next I just kept plugging along.

During that time I gathered inspiration in expected and unexpected places, I was inspired by friends and fellow crafters, but at times it was hard not to let jealousy get the best of me. It's hard to feel like you've lost your way and then see people that continually crank out fresh, new ideas. Then the more you try to force yourself to have an idea the worse the ideas are when they finally come. Sometimes, to amuse myself, I would write "have an amazing idea" on my to do lists. 

I never checked that one off. 

Then, suddenly, everything fell into place. Roads that I wouldn't have thought even traveled the same lands started to intersect. My creative vision sharpened and I finally had an idea. A good one. As it started to solidify I could see all the influences that had brought me to that moment so clearly, yet the thing itself is something totally different. I can trace the roots of the inspiration of this new endeavor back to a 1980's bananrama record, a page torn from an early 90s fashion magazine, a tank top I bought at one of the first craft shows I did by a maker that I can't even remember the name of, and other, smaller things, moments in time, brief seconds from a nature documentary. 

So now I'm fully immersed in this, I'm using skills that I learned 15 years ago in college (that feels so good!). My heart has always been in textiles and this feels like a real homecoming. To get started properly I needed to completely revamp the way I had previously been working. The new project involves dying and despite taking extreme care in my kitchen I quickly realized it was no place for mixing dyes and chemicals. Lucky for us we have a huge basement with a great, big work sink so I set up shop down there. I have a ground level view of our backyard and the meadow beyond, a real squirrel's eye view. What I really needed was a padded craft table like the long print tables I remembered from college. Something I could pin textiles to for dying.

The first photo shows my old drafting table in it's normal state. I bought enough carpet padding (second photo) to do two layers on top of the table. It cost 25 cents per square foot at Home Depot, a real bargain for only $6 total. I topped that with a layer of quilt batting, because I had some laying around. Next I needed a fabric cover. Initially I planned on going to Jo-Ann and buying some canvas, but I made a bittersweet decision to use the table cloth that I've been using at craft shows for the past 8 years. I've flung this piece of cloth over so many tables, in so many cities and it's been a great backdrop for my products. Now that my business is making such a huge shift it seems fitting that I will need a whole new look for shows so this seemed like a good use for this piece of fabric, even though it was sad to take scissors to it. The last photo shows after I had trimmed it with a few inches of overhang on each side and used a staple gun to secure it tightly to the bottom of the table. It came out so good and will be the perfect work surface.

And look! Those are my T pins from college! Hence why they have my name written on them. I'm so excited to be using so many items and skills from my past to create this new product. I'm still deep in testing and prototypes, but working toward to complete overhaul of my etsy shop and launch of new product on February first. Stay tuned!