Tag Archive | artists

Thoughts on Creativity

It’s only within the last few years that I’ve been able to think of myself as a creative person. I always thought creative people were the artists, the clothing designers, published authors, the people who can bring things to life just from their mind. Me? I wrote stories that didn’t go anywhere. I made jewelry for a few years, then I scrapbooked for a few years. I knit and crochet, but I use other people’s yarns and other people’s patterns and just replicate them.

But guys, you know what? I AM creative. I write stories that haven’t been written before, about characters I make up. I have three complete manuscripts. Three full-length book-type things. Sure, they haven’t been published. Doesn’t mean they’re not creative. And it doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile. Maybe those were just the ones I needed to get out before writing The One.

I’m always struggling with self-worth as far as writing goes, swinging from “Yes! I’m a great writer!” to “Who do I think I am, thinking someone else will want to read this?” Because I’ve never published a book, I think I’m not a writer. Well. That’s dumb. And I just have to keep telling myself that. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve written short stories and novel-length stories and filled a dozen journals and I’ve kept this blog for three years now. I don’t write every day, but I keep coming back to writing. I am a writer.

Wow. It wasn’t until I wrote that, that I realized how true it is. I keep coming back to writing.

With my yarn, I put colors and textures and patterns together. I’m the one who chooses what will go with what. I don’t think I’ve ever used the recommended yarn for any pattern, and I don’t think I’ve ever even made a pattern in the same color(s) as the designer. I take their ideas and put my own spin on them. That IS creative.

And for a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine the yarn and the writing. I want to write a book where yarn/knitting is a focal point. I’ve tried, and it hasn’t worked yet. But I’m going to keep trying.

I don’t know why, but I am flush with creative energy right now, and it feels awesome. The focus has turned away from knitting and back toward writing, but that’s kind of typical for me. I tend to focus obsessively on one thing for a while, then move on. I’m not done with knitting, not at all! I spent three hours at a football game last night and was delighted to have the time to knit on the baby blanket. But in the evenings, or weekends like this, my brain is gravitating toward writing.

Not just writing, either. I’ve always wished I could draw well, and I always told myself I just couldn’t do it. Then a few days ago I was admiring a selection of drawing books and the husband said, “Why don’t you try it? You never know.” And for some reason, this time I agreed. Why not, indeed. I didn’t have to show anyone if I didn’t want to. I might not be great. But what if I could make pictures that pleased me? That would be pretty cool. So I might be heading to the library to check out some how-tos for beginners (if you have recommendations, please share!) and I’ve got a little sketch pad and a drawing pencil itching to be used. And because it’s uncomfortable and scary for me, I’m going to share my first attempt, a cube copied from a book.

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It’s not great. It’s a first attempt. I don’t think it’s going to come naturally to me the way it does for my kids, or the way writing does to me. I’m not going to be the next big artist, and that’s all right. For me, it’s okay that it’s recognizable, and it was fun.

I guess what I take from all of this is that I’m redefining what success means to me. Success is about the leap, the journey, the effort. And I don’t want to be afraid of success anymore.

A Visit to a Pottery Studio

We did something really fun yesterday: we went to an open house for a pottery studio! The Kansas City Clay Guild sponsored a Holiday Sale and Pottery Tour involving several studios around the city. We had big plans to make it out to the Rafter E Studio to see Tara Dawley‘s pieces, but the girl had to help her grandma with some chores and the hubby had to do a long run and before we knew it we were out of time. We had to be happy with going to 323 Clay, which is two minutes away on the historic Independence Square.

And it was SO COOL. Obviously we’ve driven by it many times, and my husband had been once before, but I’d never been inside. They rent studio space, offer classes and workshops, and have a gallery space. The first two rooms were filled with gorgeous mugs and vases and teapots and platters, then you move on back and there were booths set up in the roomy studio space in the back. Down the stairs was another little booth. There were several artists displaying their pieces; at least five, maybe six. We were greeted by David Lee, the studio owner and artist, and he showed us around enthusiastically. We got to see his kilns, which were numerous and huge, and he explained a bit of the process to make pieces look the way they do. It was so interesting to see things in the various stages, from the unformed clay to works in progress to unpainted items to painted but unfired pieces. I loved seeing the little handmade touches: a glass rim that’s not perfectly round, the faint finger marks in a delicate cup.

My son thought the snacks were the best part of the tour. One of the neatest touches was that David had made a bunch of ceramic cups for guests to use while there and then take home. Seriously, free pottery! How cool is that? So we each picked one out.IMG_3296 IMG_3297 IMG_3298I like how each one is slightly different. Even the ones with similar colors are like variations on a theme. My daughter picked out the pink one. I think she likes to stand out. These are fun little cups, perfect for juice, or scotch, if you’re my husband.

Of course we had to take something home. I really wanted to get something from David’s collection because he was so personable and welcoming, and he had wonderful pieces. The teapots, which is what I really coveted, were out of my price range, but there was a soft green mug with hints of red that I liked. I also liked this big red mug, and I was glad it was the one Alex decided he needed.IMG_3299But I kept coming back to this mug and it said it needed to come home with me. I’m not sure why, because it’s not a color I typically gravitate toward. But it’s such a lovely pale shade of turquoise with the palest hint of pink inside. It’s an appealing shape and the handle has such interesting line details. I just…needed it.IMG_3312This is by a different artist, and I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get her business card or even her name. The mug says Percival on the bottom, and the price tag said CJP. And she had so many other pretty things that I imagine I’ll be going back for more in the future.

It was a wonderful little adventure, and it made me wish we’d taken the time to do more of the tour and hit other studios. We love to see real people making a living from their passion, to see examples of art and creativity taking root in the community. And a unique handmade piece is so satisfying!

So if you’re in the Kansas City area and love pottery, you might check out 323 Clay. They’re open by appointment or by chance, so call the studio and set up a time to visit. I’m sure David will be happy to show you around!

Small Business Saturday

ACK! I have so much to share that I don’t know where to start! I think I’ll start with something that’s near and dear to me, and that’s Small Business Saturday. As an artist myself (cough cough, that’s hard to say sometimes), I am committed to helping other artists, crafters, and small businesses thrive. There is so much value in handwork, so much love and detail and care that goes into something made by one person. And I can’t help but admit that I like the idea of owing something one of a kind, or at least something not mass-produced. Sure, I shop at chain stores too, but I like to shop small when I can.

With that in mind, I decided to start a little sale today on my Facebook bonny knits page. I’m offering 20% off all my current inventory! Plus I just received my Square card reader to accept credit card payments; maybe it will make it a little easier for someone else to shop small!

We supported small businesses yesterday by spending Black Friday in Weston, Missouri. I love their little downtown area with all the antique and gift shops. The first place we stopped might have been our favorite. It was called Art for a Dog, and the sign advertised tees, hats and gifts for dog and cat lovers. We had to ring the bell to get in, and while we waited, two dogs on an upstairs deck greeted us. Marie came down and let us in, telling us a little bit about her business.

Marie Mason is the owner of Bella Company, and she started with a few simple line drawings of dogs and later started doing full color art. Her small shop had lots of paintings and tees and sketches, and there was so much life and personality in each animal. At least one of their four dogs is a rescue, and they support animal rescue organizations in several ways. It was just so obvious how much she loves animals, and I really wanted to support her passion and commitment. Plus her stuff was darn cute! I limited myself to one thing: a nifty green canvas bag with a great yellow dog picture on the front. It’ll make a fabulous project bag. She also does custom portraits, which is pretty tempting! You can find her on Facebook too. IMG_3282It reminded me of my puppy, Captain Jack.IMG_0109Ok, what else? Well, there was a new store there called Florilegium that sells arts & crafts supplies. It was a beautiful store, full but not stuffed, well-designed and a treat for the eye. You could tell they’d put a of thought and effort into their layout and displays. They had tons of gorgeous ribbons and buttons and stuff. I don’t know what else honestly, because they had yarn, so I was distracted. Again, I was good and limited myself to just one thing: this so-lovely skein of Kathmandu silk.IMG_3284While we were walking around, I was modeling my favorite new Junie Balloonie flower, the Santa. If you remember, a while back I posted about trading some handknit items for some flowers, and I received them last week. They are Fabulous! She specializes in custom orders and works with your ideas and colors. You can find her on Facebook or Etsy. These are mine:IMG_3256Santa was actually my idea (she says casually) but Amie Longstaff, the artist/designer/owner, brought it to life brilliantly. I adore this flower.IMG_3259Band Mom flower is one of a series she does, and it can say whatever you want. She’s got them for military moms/spouses/daughters, sports, firemen, police…everything. I ordered mine in my daughter’s school colors. It’ll be great for when I go to the games and watch her play in Marching Band and Pep Band!IMG_3260Frozen flower, for a niece.IMG_3261Monster High flower, for another niece.

They all have a barrette clip, a pin so you can wear it as a brooch, and a small chain loop for it to hang on a purse. I usually put my flowers on my purse, but yesterday Santa was clipped to my cowl. And I think it brought me good luck too, because I got to see Father Christmas himself!IMG_0135And last but not least, I recently ordered a few gorgeous, unique pieces of jewelry from Kind Spirit Jewelry. I can’t find the pictures I took of them, but I got a beautiful spoon ring, some big silver swirly earrings, a necklace with a gorgeous cobalt blue glass pendant… She’s in the process of shutting down her website so there are some FANTASTIC deals to be had. Seriously. Good prices. You can find her on Facebook too.

I’m think I’ll call that a wrap. I’ve got a story to tell you about my antique-mall find, but that requires it’s own post. Until then, support an artist or two and Shop Small today!