Okay, deep breath - you can do this!
As you know, I preach “follow your curiosity”, and this week I am curious to see what will happen if I take a break from Social Media!
There I said it!
So, let me first declare that I love Instagram. I love sharing, connecting, and being inspired. Instagram makes growing my business possible, but I am also wondering how it may be negatively impacting my creativity. I wonder what effect the constant checking-in with it has on my creativity, and I wonder if there is harm inflicted to my self esteem from constant comparison / analysis of post performance. So, I ask myself, “by refusing to be bored in any given moment, what am I sacrificing?”
Furthermore, I have been thinking (for a year or so, now) about Manoush Zomorodi, her book Bored and Brilliant and her podcast Note To Self. Ever since I heard of her Bored and Brilliant Project that challenges people to be less phone/device dependent in order to encourage deep thinking, I have been curious to take on her challenge, and it seems I am finally ready for some deep thinking!
Also the recent New York Times article about Niksen, a practice of scheduling time to do nothing - like literally nothing, staring out a window and daydreaming argues that having seemingly unproductive time of doing nothing actually spurs creativity and counterintuitively productivity. So, I ask myself, if I stared out windows more and at my phone less, would I be more creative and productive? We shall see this week.
The terms and conditions:
For the next 7 days, I will be posting blogs to my website and podcasts, but I will not be sharing on Facebook and Instagram.
I will not be checking-in on these apps either - not responding to comments, posts, etc.
I will still listen to podcasts and music on my phone, but I might challenge myself to one day without either of these in order to really force myself to be alone with my own thoughts. Terrifying!
And I will also still use my phone for pictures to capture the developments in nature and to document my work.
Through these 7 days, I will be keeping track of my thoughts, emotions, instincts, etc., and I am planning on recording a podcast at the end of this experiment, with friend and artist Sarah Johnson who is also planning on taking a break from social media this week.
So, without further ado, see you in a week. I hope to return with creative inspiration, deeper thoughts, and new perspectives!? Sure. . . See you on the flip side!
It's been a dream of mine to design my own fabric and then turn that fabric into quilts and clothes.
When I came across a Spoonflower Magazine (Spoonflower is the company the prints fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper designed by artists), that offered a free pattern for making baby hats, I was tempted. Then, some friends having babies, further encouraged me to get sewing.
So, I went to work on some tiny designs for baby hat fabric. Now that I am learning to draw digitally on an iPad Pro with Procreate and Apple Pencil, I was able to learn how to make a repeating pattern digitally. So exciting! Fortunately, Spoonflower's magazine had instructions on how to do this, too! So helpful!
While designing, I decided to make some non-baby fabric patterns for t-shirts for me. :)
I printed out the paper pattern from Spoonflower's website, which you can get here. You can also see the tutuorial here. I then cut two pieces of fabric from the fabric and pinned them together.
Using 1/4" margins, I sewed around the arch of hat, leaving the bottom open. I then folded the bottom up two inches and sewed 3/4" from the edge of the fabric.
Finally, I folded a 1" brim up and tacked it down at the seams. Tada! Baby hat for a newborn baby!
I then made more in various prints. See them below. Which one is your favorite?
For the t-shirt, I bought two striped cotton jersey fabrics from Joanns, with which to practice.
To make my pattern, I folded my Uniqlo shirt in half length-wise. I traced the permiter of the folded shirt onto pattern paper.
I decided to use 1/2" seams and also added 2" to the width and 2" to the length. So since the pattern represents the shirt folded in half, I added 1 1/2" to the side, 2" to the bottom, and 1/2" to the sleeves, shoulder, and neck.
I cut my pattern twice (one front, one back), and I notched the front pattern to create a slight scoop of a neckline.
I also cut two tiny slivers of patterns for reinforcing the neckline.
After I made the first shirt, I created the remaining three in an assembly line fashion.
The Fashion Show
Some things that I learned:
Being an expert requires being a student.
One of the rug hooked workshop participants told me of her devoted workshop attendance. She has followed her curiosity, and in doing so, attended a variety of craft and art classes to learn new processes, to understand new tools, and to express her creativity in new ways.
I admire her eagerness to learn and to be a beginner. We can get comfortable in our expertise, and it is challenging to be a novice. Being a newbie is uncomfortable. It’s humbling.
When we learn new skills, we grow our toolkit, which only expands our creative potential. Learning new skills expands our creative horizons not only because of the widened skill set but because we approach our creative project from the perspective of a student. We come at it with questions and curiosity rather than from the perspective of an expert that might make presumptions that close doors to creative possibilities. When we create from the perspective of a student, we have a new opportunity to ask what is possible from ourselves.
After getting past the uncomfortable lumps of learning something new, we can practice our new skills, which boosts our confidence in our creative abilities. Getting comfortable in a new skill allows us to trust ourselves enough to try something even “riskier” the next time the opportunity arises. Learning to knit might lead to learning to dye wool, which may lead to learning to spin. You might not have started spinning wool without first learning to knit. Then, you might need to build your own website or learn how to design your own label etc. It’s endless.
Finally, learning a new creative skill may prompt a deep dive into the creative ocean where you may become a new expert. If that is the case, we may need to come up for air once in awhile to learn something new. And in this way, we practice expanding and deepening our creativity.
Being an expert requires being a student. It’s an endless cycle of learning and mastering. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones only deepens our creative potential!
A few years ago my daughter, Penelope, was very devoted to playing a version of 20 questions that involved her thinking of an animal while we’d as questions about its qualities until we guessed correctly.
While packed uncomfortably in a our Prius, driving friends to the airport, she was on a roll with running the game. She was thinking of her animal, and we sardines were guessing.
Our uncomfortability in the tight car motivated us to increase our accuracy in guessing, which for Penelope meant we weren’t playing correctly. For her, we weren’t prolonging the fun of asking questions. We were throwing out answers are answers like starts at a board, “Stork!” “Blue heron!” “Flamingo!”
But she refused to accept our answers and asserted “More Questions! Less Answers!”
We howled at her unwitting declaration of the familiar existential conundrum. It seems like the older we got, despite being certain of so many things in life, there was even more questions that felt unknown - like a whirling sea of 20,000 questions!
You may know that I am super impatient and stubborn. When I am swimming in that ocean of questions, I feel like shouting at the universe “More answers and less questions!”
And while I am certain that we need a “certain” amount of certainty to feel safe and secure in homes with food, to have healthcare, to feel loved, to be able to love freely etc., I am also certain that we can live with a lot of uncertainty. We can accept the existence of and omnipresence of uncertainty, and maybe, we can even learn to delight in them.
If there weren’t uncertainties, then everything would be predetermined. Questions are opportunities. They are potentials. They are curiosities, and they don’t have to be feared if we choose not to respond to them in fear.
So, I’ve figured a few more of my existential questions out, but I think I’ve also grown much more comfortable in living with uncertainty. Well, back to the game,
“Is it a cow? A flamingo? An elephant? A rhino? A stink bug?
The Universe shrugs, “More Questions!”
“Does it fly? Does it like the smell of rain? Does it sleep in on the weekends? What’s its favorite moon phase? Does it shed its skin??? . . .”
This quilt is just my favorite thing. Here’s why. I fell in love with Spring Bird even before I lived here. This place, this piece of land has made me more like me. If that makes sense, and having made all sorts of art throughout my life and loving all the media, making appliqued, story quilts feels more like me than anything else that I have made. So, heart place plus heart medium equals my heart ready to explode with love and delight for this life. Don’t worry, I am not going to float away just yet, because keeping me anchored to this place is the critical nature of our environment.
We are at a crossroads, and we at Spring Bird are here to do what we can to make sure there is a place for future inhabitants be them human, creature, or plant. So, this quilt is also my prayer, a textile document, to the future.
Anyway, the foundational fabrics are dyed linen, altar cloth. They are dyed with zinnias and goldenrod. The story elements were made with various fabric scraps and embroidery thread. I chose to do rough edge applique. Finally, the hand quilting is done with cotton thread and bamboo thread.
This is the story of the 14 acres that I call home. It begins with glaciers that long ago receded leaving their melted waters, which supply the spring water that I drink. Then the mastodon and other mammals stomped on the earth making the soil rich and nutritious. Eventually modern humans, the Potawatomi People, transformed this natural space into a place, a home. The old oaks that still stand would have been young trees then. Their acorns would have been food for the Potawatomi people who may have washed the tannins away in the cool, creek water. Unfortunately white European settlers pushed the Potawatomi People from their land and cleared forests for farms. This 14 acres, too hilly to cultivate, became grazing land for the cattle, their cans of milk kept cool in the creek. Then in 1947, an artist, Torkel Korling, envisioned a forest on these muddy slopes. His love of the natural world led him to cultivate an arboretum, to restore the native plants and animals to this place. When he left, the Bartholomews took on his mantel. Mimicking the generosity of the woods, they invited guests to learn, to retreat, and to just be in nature. Now here I am, in a place we call Spring Bird, to tell your story, to help others recognize themselves in you so that they may make the choice to save you - to save themselves - to save future inhabitants and potential woodlands. I am here with you now and love you dearly.
With all my heart,
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.