My Creative Friend | Erica

My creative friend Erica is my buddy from college.  We sang in an a cappella group together, The Higher Keys, and it was only after graduating that we realized that we had another common creative interest: sewing!  Outside of teaching high school level history and Chinese, Erica sews and knits, and keeps a blog called Ars Longa Vita Brevis. I'm thrilled to have her share a bit about her creative practice here. 

Some Higher Keys at Erica's Wedding - she's the one in white!

Hi Erica!  Tell us about your creative medium and how you got started with it. 
I don’t really have a creative medium – I like to make stuff. The habit runs in my family. As a child, my grandmother taught me how to embroider, first with printed cross stitch, and then counted cross stitch. I think I was drawn to it because I’m not very good at sitting still. I like to be busy and productive all the time. So, at times and places when I was supposed to be quiet, I could (and still do) take out my embroidery. My grandmother also taught me to knit when I was small, but I didn’t really get into it until college, which is when I started to take it more seriously. After college, I got a sewing machine and decided I wanted to learn to sew, and in the past few months I’ve started learning to make baskets. My other grandmother makes Nantucket baskets and she teaches classes, so I decided I’d better learn to do that, too!

How did/do you learn and improve your creative skills?
I am lucky to have lots of people I can ask for help! My two grandmothers are a great resource for me, but I have also taken a lot of inspiration and instruction from the internet. There are loads of great sewing tutorials out there, and you can find directions for almost anything. Every new project requires a new skill, so the more I create, the more I can widen my skill base.

How do you make time for your creative practice?
I do a lot of stuff in front of the TV. In the evenings, when I get home from work, I like to sit on the couch, turn on the TV, and work on a project. I find it very relaxing. On the weekends, I try to make time to sew one afternoon, or in the time between getting home from work and dinner. Basically, I squeeze it in whenever I can! I often head over to my grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoons for some basket work as well.

What does art making mean to you?
In my day job, I’m a history teacher. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that people used to live. For me, handcrafts are a connection to an earlier time and an earlier way of life. When I make things, I am part of a lineage of women (and men) who have created things throughout time. My reasons for creating are different from theirs, but the process is the same. I guess it makes me feel connected to my own family’s past, because my family has been such an important part of teaching me to create, and to the world’s history. That sounds really corny when I actually write it down, but it’s true!

What is your creative ambition?
To use creativity to make the world better. I have found that a small gesture often means a lot, and a handmade gift, no matter how small, can make somebody feel really special. For that same reason, this year I have been making handmade items to give to charity. I like the idea that I can put a smile on the face of someone half a world away because of something I created. Even if I’ll never see the smile, it’s still worth it.

Are you an artist? Crafter?  What's the right word and why?
I think this is a really interesting question. I think I’m a crafter because 1) I generally make things with a purpose, things that are useful. I hope the things I create will be beautiful, but I rarely make things that are JUST beautiful. 2) I tend to follow directions rather than coming up with my own ideas. However, I’m trying to change that, and as I get more confident in my own ideas I am taking inspiration from different places and trying to come up with some new and different things. I hope eventually I will be able to contribute some crafty and/or artistic ideas to the world!

Thanks for sharing, Erica!  Check out Erica's blog: Ars Longa Vita Brevis.


**My Creative Friend is a series of blog posts featuring the creative practices of creative women in my life, posted on the last weekend of each month. By sharing our processes, my hope is that we can all learn, grow, and be inspired in our own work. If you're interested in being featured, please contact me!**

1 comment:

  1. Just catching up with some of your older posts, and I loved seeing Erica here (and certain other people I know in that picture)! Lovely interview. I can just hear Erica saying every bit of that.



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