I’ve enjoyed a variety of creative endeavors in my life and find the skills in past projects are helpful in new projects. Scrap-booking skills were helpful when I started Soul Collage cards. Jewelry making skills were useful when I wanted to embellish my handmade books. My 4H sewing experience helped me as a new quilter.
My husband introduced me to ceramics. He brought a potter’s wheel and kiln to the marriage. Both of our boys also enjoy ceramics and have surpassed my skill level. It is rewarding to take a formless lump of clay and create a useful shape. Even the failed attempts are part of the learning process. Sometimes I manage to create something beautiful. Ceramics gave me an eye for shape and form.
Another creative project our family enjoyed was building a number of hand drums. In the course of one weekend, we sanded, stained, and decorated the drums. It was labor intensive, especially the final lacing and tuning. The sound is amazing. I love the vibration in the room when we play them. I learned that creating something myself can be higher quality and more satisfying than buying something factory made.
I’ve gone through several cycles of fabric arts. My first quilt was a California Queen sized denim quilt with a three-dimensional angel in the middle. It took me almost a year to complete. I went several years before attempting quilting again. I learned not to tackle large projects when learning a new art form. A few years later, I joined a quilting guild, so I could learn some new quilting techniques. We met every other week during the school year and learned new techniques each meeting. Sometimes we swapped fabrics and patterns. The result of that two year time-span was a bin full of UFO’s in colors and designs that I did not enjoy. (That stands for Un-Finished Objects or UFO’s, for those of you who are not quilters.) I finally made peace with the fact that my UFO’s were a learning tool and I don’t need to finish them.
One of the projects I did finish during that time was a batik quilt I made for my 40th birthday. I call it “Breaking Out of Tradition” because the center shifts 45 degrees to create a new design. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted to do, but did not follow any patterns. I learned to be adaptive and that it’s ok to take things apart and re-do it if needed. I also made several smaller wall hangings in bright bold colors. The rainbow-colored spiral wall hanging is called “Ignite the Fire Within.” My captured fabric journal cover was completed during a weekend retreat. It is rewarding to have finished projects in colors and textures that I love.
For my 50th birthday, I learned how to paint silk scarves from the women at St Margaret’s House in the Silk Creations program. They are amazing artists. I love the colors and feel of the silk scarves, which are a joy to wear. I made a large silk wall hanging symbolizing the tree of life and the empowerment of those women, which now hangs in my bedroom. I am inspired every day when I see it.
Some of the art I make is hidden within my journals. I usually don’t share those with others. Sometimes it is poetry or word poems I create. Other times I make sketches or paintings. They are a depiction of the inner work I’m doing: My inner child is dancing with the Divine. I’m at a Sacred Threshold. My roots and branches reach out in new directions. I embrace the beauty within me. One of the most interesting art experiences I had was a series of intuitive painting classes. It was very insightful as the painting morphed into various images throughout the process. When I spent time journaling on the process, I was amazed at what I learned about myself. I’ll save that story for another time!
I can chart my inner growth with these various projects. Others may see art, but I see the inner story unfolding. Art and creativity touch my emotions and help me process them in ways that words are unable to do. When I don’t take time for art, life feels dull and my soul feels heavy. I’ve learned to make art an important part of my week.
What are you doing to cultivate your creativity?