One of the things I’ve been interested in doing in these 31 days is looking at what engagement in a creative pursuit can mean to an individual, how it can satisfy something within them or change how they see the world. While the focus on this blog is writing, I want to see how different kinds of creativity work. Today I’ve invited my sister Sharon Wells who has always had an affinity with the visual arts, has become a proficient feltmaker and is now involved in furniture upcycling to tell us what these creative endeavours have meant to her.
The Benefits of Creative Pursuits: Sharon Wells
I am currently a stay at home mother with three children aged, 10, 8 and 2. In my past I have worked as an Archaeologist, Archaeological Illustrator, graphic designer and project manager in online learning. During my second pregnancy I began to feel very creative. It was possibly a result of being at home in charge of my own day, in my own environment, hormones and restlessness.
Two weeks after my son was born I took a feltmaking course. It opened up the creative world to me. I loved the process itself and the connection it has to people thousands of years ago, as feltmaking is one of the oldest known crafts in history. It was like a door had opened for me. This craft has so many possibilities. The process involves laying down wool fibres and mixing other decorative threads and silks into this. By wetting down the fibres and adding soap and rubbing and rolling, the fibres migrate together and form a solid fabric.
With this skill I was able to make hats, scarves, dresses, sculptures, pictures. They could be made in one piece or cut and sewn. I designed new patterns for some of these items and learned how to create dimension. I became enthralled in the process and absorbed by the colours, textures and patterns I used. The process of laying out the ccolours was like meditation. A wisp of thread here and there placed intentionally as a highlight. There was a freedom due to the nature of the felting process in that, if mistakes were made they could be incorporated into the design. I learned to go in the direction that the project decided. Even though I might plan things it would not turn out that way exactly. This was fine as I was involved in the evolution process.
I have gained enormous confidence from engaging in all these crafts. It has shown me things about myself. I get excited at the prospect of new projects. I know I need to plan when I do them and balance this with my life with my family. Sometimes the moment isn’t right, and I have to be patient. There is always a moment when I think it’s rubbish, I suppose that’s like hitting a wall, and then I push through it. I am not afraid to try new things and I can usually come around some awkward problem.
I wonder sometimes, whether I craft because I need to be creative or because I always have and I know how. It’s a bit of both and more. I remember when I was a young teenager pondering the meaning of life (with a sister like Alison this was quite normal!) The only thing that made sense to me was that we all strive to move forward, to do the next thing, to be better and to keep learning. I still believe this.
I had to cut down feltmaking due to severe tendonitis and moving house. I now paint and upcycle furniture. I am also heading in the direction of mixed media art. This really fascinates me and although I diverge I am picking up the pieces that will pull it all together. As my husband tells me ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’. Even if it’s a knitted hat, or a painted dresser or a recycled bed into a bench, I see myself and my own expression in it. This has brought me a calm, contentedness, from the act of doing it which is application of concentration, and from the knowledge that I am doing something I can, something I want and something I am able to do. It just may be that simple!
Thanks to Sharon for sharing her thoughts with us. For more you can visit The Down at Gate facebook page http://www.facebook.com/downatthegate
Sharon’s blog, though not recently updated is well worth a look to see the processes involved in her art and in her craft and she involves her young family in her work. She has also run a local craft group and I hope to share with you the wider view on how this group has helped people not previously involved in crafts to develop their artistic side.
Please share with us any thoughts you have or endeavours you have taken up. It’s great to hear how creativity feeds into your life and wellbeing.