Guest series :: Connections to the past

by contributor on June 11, 2012

in Community + Creativity, Guest series 2012

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Born and raised on a farm in rural Ohio, Devon Iott of Miss Make moved to sunny Los Angeles for school. She teaches sewing in the LA area and sells quilts and a line of pdf patterns online. Her blog is a chronicle of everything she likes to make, from sewing to knitting to crocheting to baking to mixing drinks and everything in between!

When I put together this post, I had a big dilemma.

You see, rarely does my studio look like it does in these pictures.

Don’t get me wrong, this is how it’s supposed to look. This is how I want it to look.

But more often than not it’s covered in layers of fabric scraps, bits of thread, papers, scattered tools, orphaned craft supplies. It usually looks like a craft bomb explosion.

When I took these pictures I had just finished a big custom quilt project, and big projects are usually followed by a big cathartic cleaning session. So that’s what happened. You are seeing the clean version. Which, while kind of inaccurate, is much easier on the eyes, trust me. My crafty feline sidekick Hootie definitely agrees.

When I create, my process is hardly structured. Usually I come up with an idea in a random moment. It might be while I’m stuck in traffic or brushing my teeth or cleaning. I also love sifting through sites like Pinterest, craftgawker, and ffffound, but really inspiration can come from anywhere. In fact, I usually think my projects turn out better if the initial spark of the idea comes from something that isn’t craft related – a scene in a movie, a display in a store, the colors of a certain house next to the ocean on a certain day. I feel like then it’s really mine.

Once I have a plan in my head (or even just a plan for the first few steps), I just go for it. I usually get really excited about whatever I’m doing and work on it kind of obsessively. It’s really hard to walk away once I start something, hence the perpetual craft bomb explosion.

I also like to hang things up in my studio space to keep my eyes happy and my brain inspired. There is a swallow-shaped cork board where I’ve pinned up some of my favorite fabrics. I also keep an antique photo there that I bought in a thrift store in Georgia. It’s a picture of a man sitting at a desk reading and doing paperwork. The back of the photo is dated 1896. I love it because photos from that time are rarely candid, and it’s a little glimpse into a real life from a bygone era. And he’s sitting at a desk, doing work, just like I do when I’m in there.

I find that I love connections to the past. I think that’s one of the things that really draws me to making things – feeling like I am learning a set of skills that reach back centuries into our collective history. When I see an antique quilt or a vintage afghan, I don’t just see it as an object, I can look at it and understand it. I can see where, decades ago, someone stitched two pieces of fabric together or weaved in the tail of a piece of yarn. And maybe someday, fifty years from now, someone walking through a flea market will see one of my quilts, and understand it in the same way.

It’s those thoughts that keep me holed up in my craft studio, setting off my craft explosions, making stuff.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ellen Knudson June 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

I think a neat studio is weird — how can a working studio be neat? Only Martha can do that — and she has minions to make it so. We, the real people, are messy creatives. Be proud of that and the work can look neat and finished — not the workspace! :-D

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