CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Creativity

I have always felt that everyone is creative in some way—no exceptions.  Everyone has a gift of some kind –no exceptions on that either.

I see creativity as being able to see other ways of doing, of making, of relating to people and/or projects.  This openness to change and flexibility is something we see in children and is a sign of creativity as they haven’t yet had the life experiences that narrow their options in thinking.  If children weren’t into exploring the world around them we as a species would never get beyond birth.

Creativity begins with curiosity.  Every baby explores the world around them from the moment of birth.  What happens to them from that moment determines how they live from then on.

As I have gotten older, I have been delving into a philosophical exploration of my creative life.  I have found that being born to parents that believed you can do any thing in life was a plus.  Also, my teacher training showed me that everyone learns differently so I taught to the way each child learned as best I could.

I decided to explore more fully how I create.   I discovered that I need inspiration– a theme.  Usually it is there immediately when I ask myself—what next?

But when I have a challenge from one of my groups ( I recommend groups for stimulation as well as human relationship interchanges) I spend some time thinking about how BEST to fulfill that challenge.

I can do research—leafing through magazines, researching the subject– whatever works for that challenge.

I also look into different techniques—usually what technique do I want to try next or …do I need to reinforce one I just learned to use it a different way.

THEN I get down to the materials , the colors and texture And ask the “WHAT IFs.

You DO know that is the major question for coming up with new ideas. Right!  ESSENTIAL!

I sketch and try out ideas – sometimes several times -trying out the “what ifs”

And sometimes this is all done in my head in seconds upon hearing the challenge.

The research is ongoing, by the way. I am an instinctive explorer. I pick up ideas every day. I keep a sketchbook now ( following a design class I took) but most of the items in it never make it there unless I sit down and take them out of my little notebook that I carry around every day. That notebook is a jumble of lists, lots of errands and shopping lists , but also questions to myself AND whatever I came across as an idea and sketched or wrote down. It’s raw data but very valuable and a good start for anyone interested in pursuing their own creativity.
By the way, I don’t sit down and put it into the sketchbook very often. But when the little notebook is finished I tear out the idea and sketch pages and tape them into the sketchbook ( about once a year).

And in reality all of this is affected by the deadline.

I make wearable art –I have been obsessed with making things that flatter the female form for years. I have done it so long that everywhere I go I automatically see things in that perspective. I have also established a desire to come up with new ways of wearing and designing clothes and it is automatic for me to pick up ideas everywhere.
I try to have a new concept every spring and fall and definitely a new runway piece as well. This has been my passion for years. Even as a child I loved my clothes and can describe special ones from my childhood even to this day.

I have also picked up a passion for creating wall art. And someday free standing sculpture. But that has to become another chapter.

So begin by recognizing and exploring your passion . (I am going to assume that you know this already) and then we can begin with:

WHAT STARTS YOU?

Do you do research? Does a color turn you on?  Or a shape or a design motif?  Or a texture.

I will give you a sample of how I work by example.  An upcoming project is a ruana and I’ve been waiting for a chance to get started on it.

Ruanas are back in style and I want to make one for a shop I belong to in British Columbia. If it works out I will make a couple of versions– a series probably.

I want to use my wet felting and needle felting techniques ( I just got a small felt making machine and an embellisher.)
I also bought a pound of this gorgeous multi-tonal roving from Ashland Bay that I have been spinning and I want to use that for the knit welting (a technique I invented many years ago. It’s not new but new to me when I developed it from a “what if” back in the 70’s)

So here is what I drew—already figuring out the shrinkage on the felting.

 

The original sketch

The original sketch

I have a stash of colored prefelts so I chose a fuchsia colored one as my base and began to lay out the roving I hadn’t spun as yet.

 

The design beginning to take shape

The design beginning to take shape

It matches the roving well. I could have chosen other colors (navy blue or that bright lime) but I like fuchsia.

I cut out the prefelts into the 3 pieces I want to use for the felted section of the piece and began to lay out some of the extra roving into a design motif. Since long vertical lines are slimming, I want this motif to be a vertical line, but since I tend to like curves it became a roaming stem. I needle felted that down.

 

laying out the design

laying out the design

There needed to be more along the sides so I just began laying out roving going from side to side in the curves. All of this got needle felted

 

Wet felted

Wet felted

and then wet felted.

 

Last of the roving one of the handspun balls

Last of the roving one of the handspun balls

Once the felting is done, it is time to knit the side panels . I handspun most of the roving and plied it with a bump yarn I had in my stash. ( I am working on using up my stash….right) I am planning on using the welted technique to knit this section. 12 rows of the major yarn alternating with 8 rows of colored yarn ( a lime green and a fuchsia).

The bumpy yarns I will ply with it

The bumpy yarns I will ply with it

 

 

The contrast yarns

The contrast yarns

 

knitted row sample

knitted row sample

Once the knitted sections-4 of them are done , they can be joined in a variety of ways –for instance – sewn or joined with a strip of accent knitting . I have done both of these in different situations. For the ruana I will probably sew them together.

Now we have the ruana put together. I will finish with a row of knitting around the neckline . I can add ties to join the side if I want . Other ideas will pop up and be used on the next ones so that the idea becomes a series with none of them being the same

I hope this gives you some idea of how I work. Everyone works differently but this may give you a starting point for figuring out how you work.
Remember the “what ifs” and look around you for the inspiration.

Happy creating!

For the last 35 years Sharon has shown her creations on the runways of one woman and group shows throughout the US and Canada,winning numerous honors and awards. She has mastered a plethora of techniques and embellishment styles, including the felting and knitting techniques that she has displayed in this article. She has taught in both the US and Canada for many years and has given presentations on many of those techniques on television and stage.

Click here for the next article