You always hear people talking about where to find inspiration–you know, as if it’s some elusive thing you have to go out and hunt for. It’s not that at all, though: inspiration really *is* everywhere; it’s not knowing where to look for it; it’s knowing how to be receptive when it shows up.
I sat down the other morning with that first cup of coffee and idly looked at some stuff lying on the daybed. Usually I stitch when I first wake up, but the three cats had me hemmed in: one in my lap, one on my left side, one on my right. So there wasn’t much I could do except drink the coffee, pet the cats, and look at the stuff on the bed without disturbing Their Highnesses.
I wasn’t searching for inspiration; I hardly ever do that because 1) I have so many ideas for things I want to do and make that it would take five lifetimes to get to them all and 2) the stuff I do–re-making garments into SoulWear–is idiosyncratic and not something I’m going to find much of anywhere. But I also know that ideas for one thing can be found in something that seems to have absolutely nothing to do with it, and that was certainly true the other morning.
I picked up the current issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry, a Stampington publication for which I write the artist profiles. I don’t make jewelry, although I have in the past, but I love reading the parts where the artists talk about their inspiration. The very first article was a how-to piece by Annie May, and I read her introduction, where she mentioned she got an idea from watching The Mummy, Tomb Raider and Animal Planet. I immediately thought of one of my favorite inspirational garments: the coat worn by the voodoo woman in Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil and made a note to watch that movie again, or at least the part of it where she’s sitting on the bench in That Coat. My brain was buzzing, and I idly picked up Journal Fodder 365, by the Journal Fodder Junkies–a book I’ve already looked at. The first chapter is titled “Personal Mythologies and Histories,” and my idling eye–remember, I’m picking these things up just to pass the time until the cats will give me enough room to stitch–is drawn to the box in the bottom right-hand corner where the authors suggest getting ideas from
–photos of yourself, especially at different points in your life or from IDs
–photos of your family, friends and pets
–ticket stubs, postcards, letters and other ephemera
–old artwork !!!
Old artwork! My brain immediately went to the drawings and collages–about half a dozen–that I found when I went through my mother’s things after she died. They’re done on cheap construction paper, and it’s a wonder they’ve survived since I was in kindergarten, but they have, and I could see, plainly, how perfectly they would translate to cotton jersey appliqués on a jumper or apron. Now my brain was really full, and I shut the book and set it down, and peeking out from under the edge was a corner of the cover of the current O magazine, where I could see part of a pile of wrapped gifts and was struck by the color combinations, especially the yellow and orange and red.
And there, in the space of five minutes, I had three more ideas to add to my mental file, up there with stencils of grackles and Secret Squirrel, an old Ford truck and a reindeer and, well, just a whole huge mental file cabinet full of Stuff I Want to Do.
The secret, I promise, is this: learn that ideas are everywhere. Get rid of the censor that says some ideas are good and some aren’t: when an idea pops up, you have no clue where it’s going. It may ultimately turn out to be a lousy idea, but it might turn out to be fabulous, and you have to be open and willing to let it become something before you reject it. Some call this willingness “child mind,” and some call it right-brain, and some advocate a variety of exercises they say will get you there, to this place of allowing ideas to come in and float around and interact with each other. Whatever you want to call it and however you want to get there, it’s worth it. It really is.
Will I turn all my kindergarten drawings into fabric appliques? I don’t know, but I do know There’s Something There, which is the undefinable feeling I get when some amorphous, vague idea is just floating around, waiting to become something. It’s a fabulous feeling, and all it requires is that you be open to the ideas that are everywhere around you.
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