Tuesday, February 25, 2014

how to be a unique, one-of-a-kind creation


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Something that has been weighing on me recently is the incredible commercialization of creativity -- the propaganda put out there that makes us feel that we need to use colour or pattern or designer fabrics in a certain way in order to make something beautiful. Having toyed with sponsorship last year, I've had my eyes opened to the business-side of this world, and the reality that lots of people receive all the new and trendy things for free, in return for selling them to the rest of us.

And while it can be a positive way to support small shops and designers, something about that role of advertiser makes me a little uncomfortable -- in general, but especially in the way that it affects how we express ourselves creatively.

I don't want to sell you "new and trendy".

I don't want to sell you the idea that you have to take one designer's fabric collection and plug it into another designer's pattern -- a sort of "paint-by-numbers" creativity. 

I don't want to sell you anything, other than the belief that you are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, capable of creating beauty, and that you do not have to buy any specific product to make that true.

It's a real struggle for me to shake off that need to have whatever is new. I love buying fabric and love being inspired by what others are making. There's nothing wrong with either -- we all need to get our materials somewhere! When that translates to actual creating, though, I've started to ask myself, "Is this really me? Is this what I want to make, or an idea I'm being sold? Is it the compulsive-consumer in me who wants to do this, or the one-of-a-kind artist?"

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And with all that in mind, I've been sewing with scraps this week -- putting fabrics together that may or may not go -- and finding that this is where my heart really is. In this sea of blue scraps, it's the moments when the vintage flowers of Flea Market Fancy fall next to the modern graph paper of Architextures that make me smile.

Does it go? I'm not sure. Do I like it? Yes.

And I remember that, in this life, we do not have to fit into a box. We do not have to be a poster-child for minimalism or romanticism or for anything. We certainly do not need to be somebody else's billboard. We can simple love what we love, without worrying about being consistent, and see what happens.


25 comments:

Anna said...

Love this Astrid. Beautifully put.

Red Red Completely Red said...

Thanks, Anna. I feel like this sewing journey teaches me so much that I need to know about the rest of life -- and I love that!

Kaylan said...

beautiful words friend, we don't need to be billboard for anyone...such wisdom. thanks for this. xoxo

Red Red Completely Red said...

Thanks, Kaylan. It seems this world constantly has more things we "need" -- and it's such a relief to release myself from that whenever possible!

Collette said...

Oh this is perfect!! Yes to all you have said! I don't want to be sponsored etc because I would always feel obligated. I love lots of 'trendy' fabrics but I don't HAVE to have the lastest. I love mixing lines of fabric together and go by colour more than anything. Such a great post which is so eloquently put!

Red Red Completely Red said...

Thanks for your kind words, Collette. I love trendy fabrics, too -- and having only been sewing for a few years, most of them are new! But I work hard to create designs that are my own, rather than a Lotta-Jansdotter-quilt, or an Amy-Bulter-quilt. There are of course lovely things about being sponsored -- freebies! -- but when that comes at the expense of your own voice, it troubles me.

Blueberry Park said...

Well put Astrid. Last year I went down the route of having sponsors on my blog but I soon stopped as the weight and responsibility of having to post at certain times, make with certain fabrics etc weighed me down. I feel much freer about my blog now and it is back to being the place that I created...doing what I love when I want it. x

Rachel said...

What a beautiful quilt top, I think it "goes" absolutely! Love this kind of scappy, improv piecing.

Emilee Harborth said...

Love this! Glad I can keep up with your blog during my break from instagram!

Carla said...

Beautifully said. I find inspiration everywhere but like to put my own spin on things. I do like your quilt. The pops of red are fun ; )

mjb said...

I love this quilt, and this post. I spend a lot of time thinking about the fabric I buy, versus the fabric I use. And the quilts I pin, versus the quilts I make. I pin all these quilts that are made from solids and then buy tons of prints. Some of it for me has to do with wanting to stay safe in my making so I'm not wasting time, but I think I'll be more creatively fulfilled if I risk wasting fabric in order to make something I'll feel prouder of in the end.

diane said...

Can you hear me applauding your words? Thanks for putting in print what has been screaming in my head for a long time.

Auntie Em said...

I like to put together my own fabrics and don't like it when I get asked "oh, what fabric line did you use?". Precuts of entire fabric lines are lovely and useful and I'm glad we have them as an option. I sometimes use them in my quilts, but part of what makes quilting creative for me is to make my own fabric combinations.

I am Just One Mom said...

Creativity is essentially a very personal element of art. Like you, I love mixing it up, not a static formula. I do not think I have ever done a pattern as written.
I see the new fabrics & patterns as a tool, a springboard, not the destination.
Thank you for your thought provoking words.

D said...

Just so perfectly said. Every line. Thanks for this. I hope many people read it.

Kelly @ Blue Bird Sews said...

I just found your site through looking for examples for the PMQG and I just have to say thank you for this post and the work you are doing. I am super inspired by your quilts and especially your palette. Just lovely all around, looking forward to seeing more!

Blue Moth said...

Yes, you are right, right, right! So many blogs are all about selling. And I understand that if I want to be inspired and to see what others are doing, I have to accept that people need to have an income. Features on "stash management" which normalise fabric addiction can be so depressing. I love fabric as much as anyone. But is is great to see your lovely quilt made from scraps. It is beautiful.

Heather Hornaman said...

I love the "scrappy" look whether it was intentional or not. I am not crafty but I know that I like the way it makes me feel. In so many ways my life is like that... Scraps but when I look at it as a whole, it works. Love your work, writing, and general outlook on things!

salamanda said...

This makes perfect sense to me as what I enjoy about quilts is putting lots of fabric together. I'm a new quilter and I was very confused by the concept of scrappy quilts at first. To me a scrap is a small piece of leftover fabric which is how I think you use them. However many scrappy projects seem to be made with fat quarters. I love so many fabrics and designers but the creative part of me would probably rebel if I had to use only the fabrics in one line. A very thought provoking post, thank you

Andrea said...

I just discovered your blog and this post resonated with something I have been trying to figure out with my own sewing and crafting. Thank you for writing it!

Kate Marshall said...

I totally agree with what you've written. I've actually read it a few times as I check back in to see what you're up to. I'm quite new to quilting - less than a year - but I've clocked up a LOT of time reading quilt blogs while feeding (didn't have an iPad with my first two but it is my wonderful/evil distracting companion with my third). Anyway, I've found my favourite blogs are like yours - no commercial clutter!

I live in Australia where our dreadful right-wing government is attacking, well, pretty much every good public institution there is - public health, schools, universities, research bodies and of course public broadcasting. Their obsession with the economy over everything else is sickening. So I am particularly fond of people who put in such time and effort on blogs without commercial obligations.

Your quilts are just wonderful, by the way. I really like what you do and look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

Dana - Old Red Barn Co. said...

Found you via Instagram and couldn't agree more!!

2 bees said...

Wonderful, incredibly thoughtful words.

Leigh said...

Just discovered your blog (I'm working on my first quilt - made from my late grandma's fabric stash, as a surprise for my mom). This post is just lovely. Can't wait to explore your other posts and to see more of your beautiful creations. Thank you for being so genuine and honest - it's such a breath of fresh air.

Sarah Shewell said...

I'm new to quilting and your blog but you've nailed the crux of so many crafting bloggers. If you take the free goodies which is so appealing, it comes at a price of being exclusive. I've always found that limits my creativity and isn't honest in how I create. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog and seeing your beautiful quilts.