Creative work - it is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on and the more you turn it on, the more it comes. - Brenda Ueland
If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland was first published in 1938 and yet as relevant today as it was then. Timeless. And not just about writing. Substitute any word for write and the information is equally applicable.
In June 2012, I attended my first Design Outside the Lines workshop with Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton. It was a paradigm shift in how I create clothing and I've worked steadily over the past four years to grow my skills. Along with attending more workshops, for the past two years I've been working 1-1 with Diane defining and achieving my creative clothing goals. It's been FABULOUS both for learning and for defining what I truly want.
What intrigues me is how I can think I want to do some thing, and procrastinate, and avoid for fear of, and then finally get to that thing, only to then wonder is this really me? Stencils and paint fall into that category. Having created fabric with an all-over motif, having filled the canvas with graffiti-like images, and having created two garments - one with a light background and one with a dark background - I'm seeing that stencils and paint are detail skills much like piping a seam or adding a zipper. They are simply one more tool in the toolbox to take me toward making visible the imaginative garment image that I see in my mind.
The second garment - Butterick 5786 - with the dark background was much harder than I thought it would be. Trying to create images that were visible and yet not overwhelming severely tested my beginner skills and the struggle reinforced quite clearly that if we're not talking black and white or tone on tone, my preference is for low contrast and texture over pattern. This wasn't new learning; it was confirmation. It is something to pay attention to.
I could have learned the same thing by looking in my closet. There are plain t-shirts and blouses, patterned skirts, textured cardigans, monochromatic colour mixes, and statement necklaces. On the weekend, I bought five garments for my shrinking wardrobe. Two are solid black t-shirts. One is a denim cardigan with a textured knit. One is a two-tone blue monochromatic cardigan. And one, is a black cardigan with a black and white lace motif on the front. VERY me.
One of the things I discussed with Diane was the awareness that perhaps I've been subconsciously trying to reinvent myself when what would work best is to embrace myself and do me even better. I'm probably not explaining that well. I think it's a shiny objects kind of thing. Like when I see t-shirts that are made from a combination of floral, dotted, and striped fabrics and I think I want a t-shirt like that only to make it and then realize that such a combination feels way too much for me, as if I am lost behind my t-shirt.
My uniform is more typically a plain t-shirt, a more vocal lower garment, a complimentary cardigan, and a statement necklace. Within that framework, there is a lot of work that can be done without wandering over into someone else's playground. That's huge when you think about it. Recognizing your own playground. And it's comforting. And focusing. I've been thinking about ways to become more myself. It's an interesting thought. How can you be more you?
After painting a hot mess that no amount of work was going to save, I re-cut the back pieces and started over. I've come to enjoy these seeming mistakes because they take me on interesting adventures. I'm not good at random so when I can remove control and introduce randomness in some way, it's always liberating.
The same thing happened with the sleeves. For some reason... say perhaps a measuring error... they were way too short and the cuff wouldn't do up around my not-all-that-fat elbow and so... again... I re-cut the pieces and sewed new ones. Sometimes things just doesn't work. And sometimes that's a blessing.
If the hot mess hadn't happened, my finished blouse would be too busy. If the sleeves hadn't been too short, the cuffs would have been too prissy for me. Now, with the finished blouse, all the party is going on in the back and there are simple clean lines in the front. I love the pastry blender stripes over the buttonholes and the ever so slight visibility of the painted collar stand. Other than that, it's my kind of garment.
One thing I really enjoyed was the technical aspect of doing a good job. Sewing a straight seem. Pressing cleanly. Creating sharp collar points. And so on. It's all good and I'm not sure about the sleeves. Right now they fit well while the bodice fits tight. After a few more pounds lost, when the bodice fits well, the sleeves may be too big so I'm making some binding from the left-over painted scraps so I can morph this into a sleeveless version if necessary.
The most unusual experience happened to me the other day. My hairstylist had to close her salon due to a medical emergency so I went for a haircut with a new stylist. When I walked into the salon, she was very friendly and welcoming. We're a similar age and found a lot of things in common right away. She has only been doing hair for about fifteen years. I was a hairstylist thirty years ago.
One of the things we talked about was what we both like about doing hair. In the course of our conversation she said I liked you the minute you walked in which is not something that typically happens to me and since there had already been a lot of "coincidences" that brought me to the salon in the first place, it was especially interesting.
A short while later, another woman walked into the salon and my stylist said that's my boss and then turned to her and said this woman used to be a hairstylist at which point the boss asked me if I'd like a job. I was a bit startled however, since returning to hair styling is the one job I have considered, I said maybe and asked what that would look like. We talked for a while and I said I'd think about it and let her know to which she said she hoped she heard from me because she had like me the minute she met me. Stranger and stranger.
I gave it 24 hours, discussed it with Howard, and the next day, last Thursday, went back in to talk to her. When I walked into the salon, there were three women at the desk and the owner was looking down. Another woman asked if she could help and when I said I was there to talk to the owner, she looked up, turned to the other woman, and said this is the woman I was telling you about.
One of the things I've been praying about is to see and clearly follow the path that God opens before me and all this synchronicity and coincidence made it pretty clear that this was a path I needed to at least check out. I made an appointment for yesterday and had a meeting with the owner and the office manager. We talked about how after thirty years of not cutting hair I could be reintegrated. They were both very encouraging and wanted me to come to work. What a lovely feeling.
I'll be watching a lot of YouTube videos and shadowing the owner for the several weeks while I decide if I want to go ahead. If so, I'll be inviting friends for free haircuts to rebuild my skills and then, once confident, will be scheduled as a regular hairstylist working three days a week. I'm nervous. And excited. It's another interesting adventure and hopefully like a faucet - as I turn those creative skills back on, they'll come more and more.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - an unusual - and exciting - experience