Wednesday, 15 January 2014

how to avoid pneumonia and other thoughts about crafting

Ever ask yourself why you make stuff? I started sewing and crafting when I left my vaguely creative job as a factual entertainment/documentary producer to have and raise my children. I still needed a creative outlet. What I realise now is that my old job was really about story telling, and so are the craft pursuits I really love now. Whether it's embroidering meaningful lyrics or creating a personality for a stitched character, there's always a story in it for me.

embroidered song lyrics jackson sisters

Over the last few years, as my craft skills developed, I started making more things to sell. I sell most of what I make. I do well from the three or four fairs I help organise a year with Bearwood Handmade. And I get a few commissions throughout the year to keep me busy. But sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the need to find a piece or product that people will immediately like and want to buy. I'm sure anyone who has ever had a handmade stall or online shop has felt the same. It's trying to second guess the market. Big companies spend millions on developing and predicting trends. It's not something we in the handmade world can hope to do.

hand stitched felt men

I've written about these feelings before, here. Good friends told me to keep it real and go with what I loved making. And that proved to be great advice. I suppose it's taking a more artistic view. But like many artists, I sort of need a muse. Not so much as a source of inspiration, but as the driving force, to make it all worthwhile.  I can't just make for me. I have to think someone else is going to love what I'm making as much as I do. More even. I can't help that, it's just how I tick.

origami papercraft boat made from book page

I found this quote today from writer Kurt Vonnegut, of Slaughterhouse-Five fame, which I'm sharing on here so I'll have it as a constant reminder. It's about writing, but I think it can be applied to any creative pursuit. It's good advice and funny:

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

I'm trying to avoid the pneumonia. Stick to what I love. And for 2014, make things with just one person in mind. Do you have plans for finding inspiration or for boosting your creativeness this year? Do you have a favourite quote that helps you focus? Care to share?

Once again, my other plan is to blog more. Ha, I can but try. After such a break I suppose I'll be lucky if even one person reads this, so the 'write to please just one person' hasn't been a stretch at all!


  1. Lovely.Write to please just one person. And that person is me. It is my only outlet of creativity as I did not inherit my mothers talents to sew and knit. If someone hates my writing one day they may like it another. And that is fine. One day more than 6 will. :)