Some time ago, I was in a card shop considering a display of paper flower kits. How ridiculous. I could make better flowers, but needed a quick gift, and I was exhausted. A salesperson came up to me and said cheerfully, “Isn't it fun to be creative?” I spat back, “No it's not!”, and stormed out. She didn't deserve my wrath. But the last thing I felt that day was creative.
I'm not always inspired. Muses go on vacation. When I'm in production mode, cranking out stock, I don't feel terribly clever. If there's a spark, that great idea has to take a back seat to the task at hand. Occasionally, I need to invent a “new thing” quick, but there's nothing but tumbleweeds blowing around in my head. What to do?
Inspiration comes from all over, but you might need a little help. Some people have mood and inspiration boards, or files on their phones. I have inspiration notebooks for every subject: scarves, buttons, shawl pins, etc., very old school. They are filled with pictures, and designs I jot down. You never know when your going to get stuck, or what fleeting idea you're going to forget. I love having big picture books to leaf through.
Throughout the year I squeeze in a little time here and there to investigate new ideas. I can tinker for an afternoon, or a few days, then not come back to it for a month. You might think you 'll remember what you did, but you won't.
In theater costume shops we had a book called a “bible” for every show. It contained any and all info on each costume and actor in the show. Very handy! I have a Very Eclectic bible with details on each and every piece I make. That might sound obsessive, but there are some items I don't make very often, and will forget some part of the construction. It's all in the bible. If I sell out of an item, and forgot to keep a sample (oops!), the bible is my backup.
So how do I create? We all have different paths. Mine can be a crooked line. I start with one idea and finish in a completely different place. Things evolve. Some designs do “spring forth fully formed”, but it's not common.
Samples are first, but not samples of the total piece. It's more economical to get all the little bits figured out first. When I made clothing, I could spend days on neckline and hem finishes. Same today, with textures, pin-backs and (still) hem finishes. These samples are made of scraps, and cheap materials that I don't mind recycling or throwing away. The finished design can go through multiple revisions until I'm happy. It needs to be pleasing, but also easy to reproduce. Then, I produced a small number, usually six, to try out.
Nothing is created in a vacuum. It's good to keep an open mind. I might like it, but you could feel otherwise. Friends and customers often suggest revisions I never considered. That new shawl pin might be perfect, needs a little tweaking, or back to the drawing board. It's a process.
How about you? What inspires you? I think everyone is creative. Maybe you don't think about it much. The way you dress, style your hair, cook, and decorate your house, all show your individuality and artistic nature. Celebrate it! Maybe make some paper flowers. Just kidding!
Invite the muse in,
January 2, 2023