Sep 15, 2005

Why create?

I started reading the responses to Gabrielle's "what is your motivation to create?" post last night and boy, they really got the brain buzzing.

At first I thought "geez, I have no idea" so I started with a slightly different question: when and how did all this creating get started? My trip down memory lane was quite productive. Thank you to Gabrielle for posing such a provocative question!

It seems weird now that creating is such an integral part of my life, but I didn't start making stuff until I was 23ish. I SUCKED at every art project I ever had to do in school. Really, ask my mom, she still has some of my pitiful attempts. I was REALLY good at most of the other subjects though, so I figured art just wasn't my thing. Also, my mom is an extremely talented seamstress and I was a bit intimidated by that. I didn't get the part about how you have to make a lot of stuff before you are any good at making stuff. I figured there was no way I could measure up to her amazing work, so why bother? I'll spend my time doing something I'm good at.

OK, I just realized that it's kinda funny how much of a role my sister-in-law Kasey plays in this story. Anyway, she got pregnant and I was going to have a nephew (Dave and I weren't married yet, but we were well on our way). For some reason that is lost to me now, I wanted to make a baby blanket for the nephew. Specifically, I wanted to crochet. I checked out an old 70's Sunset book from the library that had left-handed instructions and with some help from mom on the tension issue, I figured out how to crochet and I made a baby blanket for Tyler. And thus my first obsession was born.

So I bought a lot of yarn and some books and I made more baby blankets and some afgans and some rugs and I pretty much crocheted whenever I wasn't going to school or doing household or family stuff. Somewhere in there I started doing cross-stitch and I bought a lot of embroidery thread and some books and I did either cross-stitch or crochet whenever I wasn't going to school or doing household or family stuff.

In the fall of 1994, one of my beloved grandmas died and I spent about 6 weeks in bed. Not really in bed, but I was in a fog and I just wanted to sleep all the time and I wasn't making any stuff. After a while, Dave got sick of me and very kindly told me that it was time for me to start crocheting again. There was a new cousin on the way and he suggested that it would be good for me to start making a baby blanket. So I bought some yarn and I made a baby blanket and I discovered that creating something with my hands was tremendously comforting, but also, it was tremendously life-affirming. It made me feel good and happy and purposeful.

Here's where Kasey comes in again. She started making quilts. I had never been interested in quilts, but I looked at the little pieces of fabric she cut and at the patterns she created with those pieces of fabric and I was fascinated. Inevitably, I bought fabric and some books and I started making quilts.

But wait! There was something different about making quilts. With crochet and cross-stitch, I was happy just following patterns, but after the first couple of quilts I wasn't interested in following a pattern. I wanted to make up my own ideas. So I'd pick a traditional quilt block and play with it and come up with my own pattern. And I discovered that the designing part was really fun, in fact, it was the best part of the whole process. Around the same time, I got on the internet and, since I was into quilts, I typed "quilt" into search engines and I discovered this whole amazing world of quilting. And I was completely fascinated and spent most of my free time looking at quilts and thinking about quilts and making quilts. And slowly pushing my own personal envelope, moving toward art quilting.

Looking back now, it seems sort of like an evolution, a process of finding myself, a process that is definitely still going on.

Why do I create? Because it makes me happy. Like so many others on the ring, I create because I have to, I get cranky and irritable if I don't. I create because I get a major charge out of making something. I still show everything I make to Dave and say "Look! I made this! Isn't it cool?!?" I get the same thrill when I see something I've planted poke its head out of the ground in the spring. I made that happen! It's almost a form of graffiti: I was here and this exists because of me. Creating is exciting to me.

Why fiber? Because it's what works for me. It's the first medium I found that I could successfully manipulate to create something that looks good to me, that makes me excited, that makes me say "Look! I made this! Isn't it cool?!?" I'm endlessly fascinated by all the amazing things people do with fiber. It's me, it's what I dig, it's who I am.


jenclair said...

I love to crochet, too. It is, as you say, "a comforting process" and takes less thought than quilting - so I can crochet and calm myself while watching tv. Sometimes when there is no quilting going on, I crochet until the ideas come for fabric. Switching from one medium to the other works for me, although quilting is my real love.

Karoda said...

I'm such a firm believer in the healing power of creating/art and the journey it takes us on. :)

gabrielle said...

Great story and I think goes to the heart of why we all create. Thaks for posting a great story....hope you continue to explore.