Thoughts for the Creative Juices

“Here, these ought to get your creative juices flowing.” my aunt presented me with a box of vibrant purple glass beads. I was twelve, and in the middle of a jewelry-making phase. Heck yeah it got the creative juices flowing. For the next few years I made necklaces, bracelets, and key chains with those heavy purple glass beads. I paired them with leather cord, silver charms and glass seed beads. It was grand.

The jewelry making craze has passed me by, but the phrase “creative juices” still comes to mind every now and then. Now they pertain more to writing for me. I’ll have bursts of creativity where my cup of juice runneth over and I crank out writing like crazy (today was one of those days). Other times, however, the cup is dry and it’s a struggle just to put a post on this blog.

So, in an attempt to get creative juices flowing, for me and for you, I had some questions and I’d love some feedback. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a seamstress or any other kind of artist, I hope these thoughts help to spur you on to more creativity and love for what you do! Let me know your thoughts in the comments. We’ll have a bit of a party! :o)

What subject or item do you most love to write about/paint/create?

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Is there a particular theme that always pops up in your writing? Does some kind of symbol always show up in your art? Do you really like to sew the same thing over and over? For me as a writer, I love writing about nature, at least in poetry. To me there’s something about every day that’s beautiful. Nature has so many facets, so many hidden pockets just waiting to be discovered. Even the most dreary, soggy days can be so beautiful. I call them “poetic days” because of their potential. :o)

What emotions/situations cause the desire to create?

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When you feel lonely, do you head for the knitting needles? Does elation make you want to write until kingdom come? Does anger fuel inspiration at your piano? I can get in these really thoughtful moods where I contemplate and question everything (usually on poetic days). These times are best for burrowing deep into my thoughts, usually with a good cup of coffee or tea, and writing what I find. It’s like mining. Other days, though, I skip around clicking my heels and can’t wipe the silly grin off my face. My writing grows whimsical and sweet. Gosh, I’m a very emotional writer, aren’t I? How very womanly of me.

What do you want to use your art for?

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You devote yourself to your art, whatever it is, for hours a day. You gain knowledge and make mistakes. You soar and you plummet. The question is, what do you do it all for?

A lot of people see art in its various forms as a way to express oneself. Some people see this as the only reason for art at all. That reason has never sat well with me. Yes, creative people have to express their inspiration, but just regurgitating your inner creativity for the heck of it doesn’t feel like a good enough reason for me. To me, art is a way to take and interpret the world around us, and to cause others to think about it in a different way. It should build up and encourage the artist and audience, not destruct or discourage. It should bring something new and good to the world. That’s how I want my writing to operate. What do you think? Why do you create what you create?

So, let me know your thoughts! I’d love to get a discussion going on creativity, writing, and art in general. This isn’t usually the kind of post I write, but I don’t hear enough from you folks out there. :) I’m excited to learn more about your art, whatever it may be (and trust me, it can be anything). Hopefully this discussion will inspire you and get your creative juices flowing!

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The Life and Times of a Sewing Machine

Hello everyone! 

Finals week is upon me soon and I have been super busy after the return to classes. I have some really fun literary stuff in the works, but for the time being I thought I’d share a short story I wrote a few years ago. It is a sort of ode to my trusty, 35+ year old sewing machine. Odd concept, to be sure, but I hope you enjoy. Happy Tuesday!

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My name is Athena. I am not the Roman goddess; I am better than she ever was. I can create beauty better than she ever could; I can make something out of nothing, which she never did.

My full name is Singer 1200 Athena, but I just go by Athena. I am a sewing machine. I was built in 1976 and am still going strong, because of course, I am an Athena. No other sewing machine works as well as I do. No other sewing machine is even a valid machine. They all refer to themselves by their middle names, which is a bothersome practice. I know a machine named Singer 2250 Tradition, and he goes by 2250. Does he really think I’ll go through the bother of remembering all those numbers? (The Traditions always were an odd family, so boxy and plastic, not sleek and shiny and sturdy like me.)

I am a warm, buttery yellow color with stylish brown panels and buttons and shiny silver knobs. My peers say that white is in vogue for machines now, which is positively ridiculous. Just seeing all those vain machines flashing their shiny plastic shells of pure white is laughable. How else do you say “Made in China”? Honestly. Butter yellow might be a little… vintage, but it practically screams dependability. I am no plastic shell. I’m built of sturdy steel within, with just one piece of plastic on the top to cover my, ahem, machinery. I have ten different stitch options, which include a leaf pattern, numerous zigzag stitches, and even one that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge. I also have multiple accessories: a clear buttonhole foot, a bulky blind hem foot, and several silver needle plates. I am as beautiful as my namesake, the Roman goddess Athena. Well, even more beautiful, because I can actually do something.

I can create dresses and blouses and skirts, curtains and pillows and purses. I can alter outdated clothing and repair broken seams. There is nothing I can’t do. Just last week, my Seamstress and I worked on a new dress for her. The fabric she chose was simply beautiful: a turquoise and white floral print that takes me back a couple decades. Very retro; I liked it. This was a pleasing pick from my Seamstress; she has a lot of sense. While 2250 and his Seamstress are using gaudy polka dot prints and neon color blocks, my Seamstress and are sewing with red floral calicoes, feathery white muslins, and delicate ivory lace. My Seamstress clearly has as good taste in fabrics as she does in sewing machines.

This turquoise cloth was for a retro dress she’s working on; I think she said she was for a 1940s dance she’s going to. It has a high waist, crossover bodice, fitted sleeves, and a gored skirt. She bought the pattern off the internet about a year ago and has made two other dresses from it, but the poor thing had no idea what she was doing when she worked on those dresses. Any merit those things could possibly have is because of me. The skirts were too long, the bodices too baggy, the waists too tight. My Seamstress, bless her heart, thinks she’s good at this stuff. (She was so proud of her first invisible zipper. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the only reason that zipper is invisible is because I’ve been doing zippers since before that girl was born.) At any rate, this time I did my best work to insure that the dress turned out right. Of course, my Seamstress thought it was all her own skill that made the dress so beautiful, and I let her think it. That’s the way to keep Seamstresses happy; let them think they are better sewers than they actually are. It isn’t much fun at the time but in the long run they are more confident and patient and gentler with their machines.

There is nothing better than the sheer thrill of sewing. I love the gentle hum of my gears as they turn faster and faster and the pressure of my Seamstress’ foot on the pedal as my needle punches up and down, up and down (the sound of it doing this used to be so smooth, until one day my Seamstress got impatient and put me on full speed. I think she sprained one of my belts, and now my needle makes a clackity sound when it moves. I’m still trying to forgive her for this).

My favorite part of sewing, however, is the stitching itself. Every time is like the very first time I sewed, back when I was a young machine. I love the feel of each fabric as it speeds under my presser foot, as I punch the stiches into it, sturdy and tight. Silk is slippery but luxurious. Cotton is common but has so many colors. Linen is hardy and lovely. Knits are soft and cozy. Voile is a dream. Tulle is a nightmare. Each piece has its own feel and flavor: creamy silk from China, succulent brocade from India, sugary satin from the USA. Old fabrics, new fabrics, modern prints, and vintage ones. I can travel the world just by working with its cloths. They say that clothes make the man. Well, I make the clothes.

So you see, I am much better than the Roman goddess.