Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Do You Create?

Photo by  Brittni Mehlhoff of papernstitch blog.

Brittni over at papernstitch is asking her readers some questions in anticipation of a new column. She asks:

Why do you create?
In other words, what first compelled you to begin making things and why do you continue to do so?

If you create (art, music, drawing, sewing, craft, cooking, baking, etc) and have any thoughts about why you do so or what got you started, head over to this post and let her know. 

This was my answer:

Actually, I have been exploring this for myself over the summer and have a few posts touching on some information about how I create things and why.

Creating started out as an element of the ordinary for me. It was just something that happened in my family. We didn’t have funds to purchase a lot of things and so a lot of our home goods and day to day items like clothing and furniture were things we made ourselves. My father is a carpenter and electrician by trade, but a general renaissance man all around even though he would deny such a title if ever confronted with it; he just does what he likes and what he knows how to do. My mother made our clothes until we were teenagers. I think the only reason she stopped was that she could make more money doing an out-of-home job and buying clothes on sale and clearance than she could save doing all of the in-home things she had done for years.

So that’s how it started. Just something we did to get by and have some nice things. I till have very strong creative drive as an adult and find that I have to make things or else I start to feel like I am going mad. Music performance filled the role of primary creative endeavor for many years while I was in school. Now I don’t play as often as I used to and find myself drawn back to more traditional things like sewing, embroidery, quilting, and fabric dying. Handcrafts. History and [my] connection to generations past is also a huge part of why [I] continue to craft and create. The following is rephrased from one of my earlier summer posts:

I have many photos of quilt tops, embroidered tablecloths and a smocked pillow cover my great-grandmother made; taken while I was in Arkansas mid-June for a family reunion and I look at them quite frequently. She was a master of reusing and re-purposing textiles. She would dye items that weren’t to her liking color-wise, making use of onion skins and kitchen scraps as well as walnut husks and other natural dye sources. Many of the fabrics in her quilts were meticulously hand cut, using tiny templates, from feed and flour sacks as well the occasional bit of still serviceable cloth from otherwise worn out shirts and dresses.

I started dying fabrics myself using metals and natural dye sources and am continuously amazed at the results. I imagine the feeling of exuberance and wonder over watching something so pretty and different than it was before emerge from a pot has not changed much over the centuries that people have been dying things. I used to tell people I wanted to be an adult when I grew up. After this summer I have a new answer. I totally want to be my great-grandmother when I grow up.

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