It’s been a while since we had a discussion, so I thought I’d kick one off for you to ruminate on over the weekend.
No, I’m not having an existential crisis (well, not right this second anyway), what I want to know is:
Why do you create?
This is something that I’ve been analysing a lot in myself recently as I looked at my different creative outlets and worked out why I did each one, and where in my life I was with them. To start with though, I needed to look at why I was creative at all. I’m a very logical and analytical person by nature, I work in the technical world of IT, relish the complexities of server design, software interaction and trying to work out just why throwing 6,000 logins at a database causes it to fall over and whether, like the proverbial tree in the forest, you can hear it do so. I think I have to be creative so that the right side of my brain doesn’t wither and die, so that I can get something out of my head in a material that I can touch, such as fabric or paper rather than enclosed in plastic and metal like my day job. The side that wants to render something tangible is a wee bit more dominant these days, but it’s always been there.
So now I know why I like to create in general, but why do I use particular creative mediums?
Where it started:
When I was at school I loved to draw and paint, but I was very much grounded in realism – I am not someone that is able to spontaneously draw a cartoon elephant with fairy wings, for example, but can do a not bad facsimile of something that I can see in real life. I get frustrated by things that I draw that don’t come out perfectly though, so for the most part, I stopped (who has time for that level of OCD?!) I also did a lot of music at school – I have passed numerous exams in both the harp and singing, and performed in some fairly spectacular locations, but I hate orchestral harp music and there’s not really a lot of demand for harpists outside that (save, perhaps, for the pearly gates and I have serious doubts about reaching them!). With singing I’m not a classical/religious music fan, and that has been the only type of choir that I have ever seen advertised in Glasgow (I’m sure there are other options, but they’re either keeping them secret or have yet to find out how the internet works) So I stopped being involved in music, barring the occasional class at the annual Celtic Connections music festival, and the odd need to belt out something in the car along with the radio.
Then there were the crafts… I think this all started in GCSE design class, playing with and making things like chicken wire and mod roc, but I spent a good chunk of my university years and early 20s experimenting with all manner of crafts, including glass painting, jewellery making and more paper crafts than you can shake a stick at – just ask my family, the only way that I could afford to experiment was if the end result was going to be a gift, whether for Christmas, birthdays or mother/father’s day, so you can track my crafting progress around their houses ;o)
Where have I got to these days?
This is an obvious one, this blog has always been about sewing in some form, whether teddy bears, clothes, bags or quilts (or any other method of cutting up a perfectly good piece of fabric and reassembling it in a different form). I enjoy sewing, it’s for the most part relaxing (we’ll gloss over the 6 times I unpicked and resewed one particular seam last night), and it gives me something practical at the end of it, whether a quilt to sleep under, a bag to carry things in, a bear to cuddle up to or, on rare occasions, something to wear. I’m also not bad at it, and it’s fun to share what you’ve made with other creative souls around the world, as well as to ooh and aah over things that they have done whilst adding them to a mental to do list that you could never actually reach the end of in 10 lifetimes. It’s inspiring though, the more fantastic things you see, the more you want to make, whether buying a pattern and copying outright, or by riffing off something you’ve seen – a shape, a colour, a construction, and let’s face it, a sewing machine and fabric can lead you in all manner of directions.
This is a tricky one. Photography has kind of filled two roles for me over the years, one to record where I’ve travelled, and the other… well the other grew out of another craft. One of my more major dalliances pre-sewing was scrapbooking, and because of that I started to take more photos. On a trip to Australia 11 years ago, I was getting frustrated with my little point and shoot camera, and when I had an overtime windfall 18 months later my dad suggested grabbing a DSLR (you can pretty much track all my photography kit acquisitions through overwork in subsequent years!) 2 years later, after living in South Africa for 6 months and using the camera entirely on auto mode, I decided I really needed to learn how to use the thing which, after joining an online group of photography nuts, started a whole new obsession with finding new and interesting angles on places, and getting out into the great outdoors to explore up hill and down dale via waterfalls, lochs and the odd trip to the beach. I’ve long since left the online group, although I remain friends with a number of people from back then, but I still love getting out with my camera, and the trip to Wales and Dublin in August where I spent nearly a week with the camera practically glued to my hand, reminded me what I’d been missing by confining myself mostly to shots for patterns or the blog for the last couple of years.
There’s a difference between the photography and sewing though – I don’t feel the need to share, in fact I can quite cheerfully say it’s at the bottom of my list of priorities to even process the photos when I get home (sorry dad!), it can take me weeks to copy the photos off the cards that I’ve filled. It’s the process of going out and finding the photo location that I love. It’s the finding of angles and views which floats my boat. It’s not the comparison of my efforts with others who have trodden similar paths (and I will admit to having photographed a number of locations where there may well have been a sign saying ‘place feet here, point camera there’), I have been there, I have done that, I have got the awards, and I hated what it made me! The competitive part made me so hyper critical that I was disgusted with most of what I shot after a while – it turned me against what I loved and it took a long time to come back again, so there, I won’t share… well, not more than the odd one or two at least.
If you’ve lasted this long, here’s a few photos from my recent trip to London, none of them quite the tourist shots you might imagine, although I did get in the Houses of Parliament, ‘Big Ben’, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Britain…
So go on then, why do you create?