Habits and Scratching

Yeah, that's right. I'm going to write about my scratching habits. For book club this month, we re-read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, and even the second time the book really has me thinking.

I'm thinking about what she calls "scratching" - when you're out there looking for ideas. "Scratching takes many shapes. A fashion designer when he visits vintage clothing stores...An architect is scratching when he walks through a rock quarry, studying the algebraic connections of fallen rocks or the surface of a rock wall..." She writes about how people (not just artists) fear having a shortage of ideas. Two years ago when I first read the book I was very much looking for ideas and projects - I was just barely feeling crafty and creative, and hadn't yet gotten my sewing machine. I found some wonderful blogs to scratch away at. My favorites are:
One Pretty Thing
Sewing @ Craft Gossip
The Sometimes Crafter (a new favorite)
Sew, Mama, Sew!

Scratching at each of these sites is part of my creative habit now, but I don't need to scratch too hard. I feel lucky that right now, every free moment that I have I am creating. I have ideas coming out of my ears, and lists of projects to make and things to tinker with five miles long. The problem for me is just time. In the past year, I've stopped reading because my free time is completely devoted to sewing. I forget to eat on the weekends because I'm so involved in projects. My grandma and I have a running joke - she calls me every Saturday, and asks, "So little darlin', what are you doing?" I say: "What do you think I'm doing, Grandma?" She knows. These days, my challenge isn't a lack of ideas, but having the time to work on all of them! It makes me glad to know how far I've come in that way.

But Twyla warns that scratchers should be aware of copying. And I guess I've been reflecting on this too. I have a handful of original designs and ideas, but many of my projects come from tutorials and ideas that I find online. (One barrier to getting the etsy site running is that I only want to sell designs that are truly my own). It is through copying, though, that I've been able to learn the artistic skills that I've gained this year - with each new project that I take on, I push my skills forward. So when do I know that I've gotten to the point where I "take flight" and work on more original projects than copies? I'm not sure that time will ever come, because I think it's really the learning and pushing that interests me. For example, in the past year I've made many wallets, cases, bags, etc. And now I'm at the point where I am capable of making my own patterns and designs in this realm, but I find my interest being drawn towards quilting since I know so little about it. We'll see where the next year brings me.

One thing I do know that I've been able to push forward on is aprons. Aprons make me feel totally original. I love to fool around with the measurements, the shapes, the moods, the functions, the waist bands, and the little accents. Recently, I was asked to create two custom aprons for my friend Erin and for her blog Big Girl Eats. Her blog focuses on cooking, eating, and exercise (as well as her witty rants about work and life).

I made a custom apron for Erin (whose nickname I recently learned is "Bird").

As well as a custom apron for her first blog giveaway! Keep an eye on her blog this month for a chance to win it!

Also, Kerrie from work asked me to create two custom aprons for friends who recently got married. She took me to Lorraine's Fabrics to pick out lots of wonderful prints, and I created:

This apron for her friend Julie (married to Eric)

And this apron for her friend Courtney (who apparently loves pink).

My friend Liz showed me this adorable dress that she bought a few years ago when she volunteered in New Orleans for a Katrina relief project. She's never worn it, but can't bear to get rid of it because it's the-apron-that-she-bought-in-New-Orleans.

So I got to transform it into something adorable that she hopefully will get a chance to wear more often!

And lastly, I've been meaning to try out this tutorial for making an apron out of an old button-up shirt. When I showed Erin the photo, she said, "Damn, I didn't know aprons could be sexy, and that's SEXY." I'm not sure what to do with this one though, since I didn't make it with a particular person in mind...

It was super fun to play and experiment with each of these unique designs - I hope I get some more custom projects to work on soon!

Carole Ann

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