Guest series 2012:Â I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creatorsÂ 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 welcomeâ€¦
Abby Glassenberg creates unique patterns for stuffed animals from her home studio, and since 2005 she has shared these creations and herÂ ideas on design, technique and the online culture of craft through her blog.Â Abby has a masterâ€™s degree in education, she taught middle schoolÂ before becoming a textile artist andÂ the mother of three girls. Abbyâ€™s first book, The Artful Bird: Feathered Friends to Make and Sew, was an ALAÂ Booklist top ten craft book of 2011. Her new book about soft toy design and will beÂ published by Lark in May of 2013. You can find Abbyâ€™s stuffed animal patterns in her Craftsy pattern shopÂ and her Etsy shopÂ and keep up with her latest pattern releases on herÂ Facebook page.
In 2003 I had a whole summer off. I was a sixth grade teacher, married, living in anÂ apartment we owned in an interesting, upbeat area of Boston. In early June, justÂ before school was out, I set some summer goals for myself: draw every day, dust offÂ my old watercolors and paint, make a quilt with all that fabric Iâ€™d been hoarding.
The last day of school came and went, as did the first week of summer vacation, andÂ I was just about ready to start in on those projects. Monday morning my husbandÂ left for work and I went to the bakery and then for a long walk and then I took aÂ nap. And watched some TV. And talked on the phone with my sister. And suddenlyÂ the day was gone and I never did draw. In fact, week after long free week of thatÂ summer rolled on by and, yes, I did sew a few scraps together, but then laid themÂ aside when I couldnâ€™t figure out what to do next, and, yes, I painted a little still lifeÂ of some lemons and gave it to my mother for her birthday, but then I put the paintsÂ back on the shelf. Even while I was living those weeks I could see that my loftyÂ summer goals for productive creativity were not being realized.
But why? Why wasnâ€™t I using all that free time as creative time? The desire wasÂ there, but something crucial was missing. Now I see that the missing element was aÂ feeling of urgency. Urgency reframes time, places constraints on us, maybe forces usÂ even, to use every single moment if we are to meet our goals.
By the end of that summer I was pregnant with our first child, a daughter born theÂ next March. I left the classroom to be home with her and suddenly I was back inÂ the apartment while my husband was at work, with long hours before me, a similarÂ feeling to the one Iâ€™d had the previous summer. Visits to the bakery, long walksÂ pushing the stroller, naps, some TV, talks with my sister â€“ it was all the same. ExceptÂ now it was completely different.
When the baby was up there was always something to do. Nursing and changing,Â comforting and cleaning, folding and cooking, and then cleaning and nursing again,Â and on and on. And when finally I could put her down for a nap and I could be meÂ again. The old me. The me that wanted to draw and paint and sew. But now I onlyÂ had an hour before the cycle of nursing and changing and comforting and cleaningÂ started all over again. An hour and ten minutes if I was lucky. So out came theÂ sketchbook and the pencil because if I was going to actually make anything I had toÂ start right now!
And pretty soon I was making things, teaching myself to sew from old soft toy booksÂ Iâ€™d check out of the library after storytime on Tuesdays. And in May of 2005 I startedÂ a blog, WhileSheNaps.typepad.com to record all that naptime creative productivity.Â In the seven years that have passed weâ€™ve had two more daughters (only girls soÂ that â€œSheâ€ still rings true!) and Iâ€™m a stay-at-home mom with a creative business thatÂ I work on primarily while my kids are asleep or at school or camp.
When people peek into my studio, peruse my website, and see everything that Iâ€™mÂ making, and then notice that I have three kids who are 8, 6, and 18 months, the firstÂ thing they ask me is, â€œHow do you find the time?â€
Having children has given me many gifts (and a fair number of headaches, too), butÂ one of the greatest gifts of motherhood for me is the constraints it has placed on myÂ time. Looking back at that summer of 2003 my first reaction is to feel jealous desire,Â dreaming of what I would do if only I had that time now. The reality of now, though,Â is that I never have time like that. And precisely because I donâ€™t, I find the time toÂ produce creative work every day.