by Lucy H. Pearce.
Today's topic is Nurturing a Culture of Creativity at Home. Be sure to read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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November 27th: Creative Heroines.
December 4th: Creative Inheritance.
December 11th: The Creative Process.
I grew up in a crafty, creative home, although I didn't consciously know it at the time. It was just what we did, how things were. My mum made our clothes for my sisters and I; Dad painted the house(s), worked on the car, and both Mum and Dad decorated all the houses that we lived in, painting and papering, Mum making curtains and re-upholstering chairs. I have fond childhood memories of mum spending her evenings working on her tapestries or rugs, while my sisters and I lay at her feet, untangling bunches of wool that were all knotted together. Mum crocheted a poncho for each of us, and I loved it and wore mine all the time. We had hand-knitted jumpers every winter, along with handmade pink flannel pyjama's, which were really special because my pyjama's had Bee Buttons on them, and my mum really hates buttons. We never had buttons on our clothes growing up (apart from those pink pyjamas).
My mum was a stay-at-home mum while we were small, and to support us, she made things to sell. She had a knitting machine on which she made jumpers, which she sold in a local shop. She made soft toys, which she sold in a friend's home-based cafe. I used to eye up her toys that would disappear in their clear plastic bags out of the door, and wish that I could have one. My sister once smuggled one under her bed (it was a pink toy elephant).
Mum also made and sold Wombles, which were beautiful. I remember a car trip up to the Bay of Islands when I was 2-3 years old (I vomited in the car and cried), and then when we arrived at our motel, there was a Womble on my bed, waiting for me! That was the highlight of my trip - my very own Womble! I don't know what happened to it, I think we left it behind when we moved to England a few years later. But I remember that feeling of excitement when I saw that Womble and realised it was for me. I felt special.
I remember vividly the excitement I felt opening up a parcel that arrived for me from Grandma (mum's mum). I was 7 years old, sitting on the stairs, when the postal flap in the door lifted up and a parcel was pushed through, with my name on it! The feeling of anticipation, as I unwrapped the brown paper and pulled off the string, revealing a cereal box that had been folded down to keep its' precious contents safe... and inside it was Lucinda. Lucinda the rabbit, handmade with white fur, the inside of her ears lined with pink satin, wearing a blue and white check cotton dress and white cotton bloomers underneath. Made with love, especially for me. I still have Lucinda, perhaps not quite so white, and the bloomers have lost their elasticity so they don't stay up any more. But she is still so special to me and reminds me of what a special person Grandma Peg was. I loved going to Grandma's place. She had a big plastic 2 litre container under the stairs, full of buttons. Big buttons, little buttons, old buttons, pink buttons, wooden buttons, plastic buttons... my sisters and I would open up that dark little door under the stairs, poke our heads inside, and come out triumphantly holding that box of buttons and tip it out all over the floor. We made button gardens, button flowers, patterns, houses, and pictures. Grandma painted, and sometimes she took me to her art class. I remember being 9 years old, sitting outside near a river on a sunny day, alongside lots of old people with their easels and paints, and me with my own little wooden tray and watercolour pad and paints, sitting next to Grandma and chatting away and drawing and painting. Everyone said nice things about my efforts. I remember feeling content - I was doing something special with my Grandma, and we were doing something that we both enjoyed.
Grandma taught me about the magic of wax resist - using crayons and then watercolours over the top. She showed me how to do wax rubbings - put a piece of paper over a coin, or any textured item, and rub a crayon over the top. Grandma took us to the Birmingham Art Gallery every time we visited. I grew up looking at beautiful famous paintings. I was fascinated with the paintings of nudes, and I once told Dad they were rude. I can't remember Dad's response, but it would have been something like "that is just what people look like". I remember sitting at school one day and we had to draw people. I drew people like I saw at the Birmingham Art Gallery, and put nipples on my people. Other kids looked at my drawings and called me rude. I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed of my art, and I didn't put nipples on people for a very long time after that. Looking back, I think that those kids are the ones that didn't understand. I wasn't being rude, I was being real. 40 years later, I look through art books or online at famous paintings, and I see those paintings that became so familiar to me at the Birmingham Art Gallery, that I developed a connection with as a young person, and I think "I know that painting. That painting is like an old friend to me".
We didn't have lots of money growing up, but I didn't notice. Our home was full of love, full of experiences. We spent our days climbing the local hills, playing cowboys and Indians, riding our bikes, making daisy chains, making paper beads and turning them into necklaces, making huts under the table using old sheets on rainy days. We put on circus plays and magic shows that we made our parents and our friends' parents watch. We went to the beach and dug really deep holes and made huge sandcastles. and sand sculptures. My sisters and I spent many pleasurable hours cutting out bits of paper and sticking them down in our scrapbooks. We loved catalogues, and would cut out pictures from them to paste down. One of my favourite christmas presents was a Rolf Harris Art Station that was stuffed in my Santa's stocking one year, and a weaving loom another year. I still have that weaving loom, it sits upstairs in my craft room. I will be using it with my niece's and nephews.
My aunt, (my mum's sister) is also a crafter. She makes boxes, quilts, paper, books, and so much more. Over the years I have seen my mum take up many different crafts... ceramics, faberge eggs, stamping, card making, and now quilting. I only have to look in my china cabinet to see the products of her many crafts and hobbies - a black ceramic horse she made for me when I was 16; a velvet lined egg she made for me one easter. In my china cabinet are also products of my own crafting - handpainted egg shells; a miniature handpainted ceramic tea set; handpainted wine glasses. On the top of the cabinet sits needle felted things that I have made - a fantail, a horse, a donkey, a kereru. On my walls are paintings I have done over the years. In my wardrobe are clothes that I have made (not many, but a few), and jumpers that my mum still makes for me. I am also lucky enough to be the beneficiary of her crafts that she doesn't do anymore - I rummage through her things and find stamps and inks that I am allowed to take home and use in my crafting.
I have a cuttlebug, and a variety of stamps and scissors and inks. My 4 year old nieces and 5 year old nephew love coming to visit (or sometimes I bring it to them) and we spend a wonderful afternoon together just creating. I see the wonder in their faces when they carefully put the paper into an embossing folder, turn the handle, and take out the paper to reveal bumpy patterns and flowers, just like magic. They love dipping the stamps into the inkpads and pressing them down on the paper and finding a butterfly or a fairy sitting there on their page. They get excited when using special scissors which cut wavy lines and zig zag lines - they cut into paper just for the pleasure of seeing a zigzag splitting the paper into two. They use the craft punches in ecstasy, gleefully punching out hundreds of dragonflies and butterflies and hearts. We are creating lifelong memories, and at the same time imparting to them a love of creating, which teaches them to be self-reliant. There is an innate feeling of satisfaction, pride and contentment that comes with creating. When my niece turned 4 years old, I made her a Creation Station box - I covered a filing box with pretty papers, and filled it with a $2 pack of A4 coloured paper (some sheets of which I had cut down to A5 and A6) an A5 pad of pretty printed paper for $2, an $8 stamp set, a gluestick, and a variety of coloured card and envelopes from my paper stash. I filled little boxes with sequins, and paper butterflies, dragonflies and hearts punched out with my craft punch. I used my cuttlebug and die cut a variety of doilies, bird houses and other various items; and embossed paper. It was so much fun to make, and I enjoyed finding little things to add to it, and I know that my niece will have hours of fun with it. My youngest sister saw the treasure box full of crafting goodies and put in an order for her daughter's next birthday!
Sometimes I look around me as an adult and I despair a little as I hear kids talk about what their mum or dad is going to buy them or have bought them, rather than what they did. They talk about what they saw on TV, not what they made. I think about what it was like when I was a kid and wonder if it is possible to bring up kids today without being materialistic. I think, "yes it is possible". Material things are not important and so easily discarded - but those things that have been handmade especially for me, by someone special to me, retain their significance, because they are so much more than just a 'thing' to be discarded. Creativity in the home is just something that I do, it is completely natural, because every day I am creating, whether it is in the kitchen, in the lounge, in my head, or in my craftroom. **********
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