Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Could I?

I interrupt this hand-made gift parade to bring up a question.

See, last night I was perusing some blogs to avoid cleaning my kitchen. I came across this giveaway (don't miss it!) and was totally impressed with Vintage Fern's mad design and sewing skills. I hopped on over to Anna Maria Horner's blog and was blown away by her creativity, her diverse skill set, how successful she has become, and how she balances family life at the same time. These are just two examples, but there are countless people like this that have inspired me in my quest to domesticate myself.

After I blog-hopped I finally got my second wind. I cleaned up the dishes from my split-pea soup dinner, wiped the counters, and took the clean laundry upstairs so I could fold in front of the TV, which is the only place to fold laundry. I flipped on the TV and got sucked into a few minutes of the Bachelor (which was a horrifying experience and a subject for an entirely different post). Taylor came up just as I was folding the fitted sheets (I hate folding fitted sheets) and I mentioned these fabulous women about whom I'd been reading.

"I'm just amazed at how creative people are," I said. "I mean, it takes me 3 hours to sew a little girl's apron, and they are mass-producing things, selling their wares, designing their own fabric, writing books... It is so amazing how much creativity some people are born with." But Taylor did not agree. He's been reading up on the subject lately, and he is totally convinced that if you put enough time into something, you can become good at it. "You spend an hour a day sewing for ten years, and you will be a great seamstress," he told me." "Yes," I replied, "but I could never just envision a fabric design." Then he introduced me to his card catalog idea. "You just need more to pull from, Anne. Think about this. I have read a LOT of cookbooks, watched a lot of Food Network, and done a LOT of cooking. I have more cooking cards to pull from than you because I have spent more time with it. So I can create a recipe more easily because I know which herbs work with which meats, which vegetables work together, and so on. I can create because of my experience and time. Likewise, if you worked enough with fabrics to know that a certain yellow and a certain red looked amazing together, you could create an all new fabric based on your prior knowledge and practice."

This really got me thinking. Of course it's the old nature vs. nurture conversation. But looking at it from the angle of creativity is so fascinating to me. Of course some people are born prodigies. Of course some people are more natural artists. I've long been skeptical of my own creativity. I could dance but wasn't great at choreography. I could sing and play the piano but could never compose. It wasn't until a college art class that I realized my painting skills weren't half bad and actually felt confident calling myself "creative."

What do you think? Do you lean more toward the nature or nurture side of things?


Along these lines, you must read this. I love.
(above image from annamariahorner.blogspot.com)


The Lindsey Ladies said...

Funny that you write this, Collin and I had this EXACT discussion yesterday because we are reading a book called "Outliers". Have you guys heard of it? Same ideas. Anyways, not sure where I stand in nature vs nurture, right now I am feeling like it's half and half, I think you need to be born with some talent but you must nurture that talent to keep it and be extraordinary.

danielle said...

So this is the funny difference between me and you. Ever since I first starting reading Anna Maria, and Heather Baily's Blogs (and using their fabric and patterns etc.) I have totally thought to myself "I could totally design fabric...how hard could it be"? See...I'm conceited like that.;)

I sort of covet their lives...being able to do something you love and feel inspired by and making money for it...all while being a mom at home with your kids.

Anyway, I sort of agree with Taylor. I think that for most things you just need a lot of practice.

However, another thing I have realized by reading a lot of craftish blogs, is that there are a lot of folks out there who are really good at creating things that are really good interpretations of things that someone else thought up, or trends that are playing out. Which is great. Wonderful. But I think what makes the two women above truly successful is that they are original in their creativity, and they love love what they do...so it comes from inside. And that sort of takes more guts and creativity. And in that way, I think they are head and shoulders above most, and why they are so good at what they do.

Anyway. Is that a long enough response?

I am very proud of all of your sewn items! Good job.

Sugar... said...

I agree with Taylor. When I look back at some of my first sewing projects, I think, "Wow, if I only had known then what I know now, I would have done this differently, and that...". It is all about practice I believe. I mean, Jeff could care less about design and colors, but here he is working at a scrapbooking company and he actually designed one of their lines because he's around it enough all day to know what sells. Crazy huh?

On another note, I have realized that there are women in this world who are super driven, and who have these amazing ideas, and then everyone else in the world compares their own lives to the lives of these women and says, "I'm not good enough", or "I wish I could be like that." Don't get me wrong, I like (LOVE) their designs a lot, but they've put so so so much time into it, and most of us wouldn't be happy with that super crazy, busy life to be honest. I wonder to myself how often they have to travel away from home. I wonder how many times they really actually get to go outside and play with their kids in the snow without wondering how to get the next best picture, or if their clothes are cute enough to put on the blog. I think you're awesome if you make yourself and apron and that's all you've done for the month. Anne, I think you rock!

Christina said...

Just before Christmas I made a onesie for Delia and I copied Danielle's Christmas tree onesie idea - because I thought it was so cute. Then I was feeling bad because I can't come up with my own ideas - I feel like I'm always borrowing my creativity. So I was laying in bed thinking "well, what kind of onesie would I want to make?" So I came up with a little bike silhouette in pink that I put on a onesie for Eliza for Christmas - it turned out really cute. So, basically what I am trying to say is that I think you could envision a fabric design. Just spend some time with it!

I'm definitely not a master seamstress, but I am lot more comfortable with sewing this year than I was last year because I have spent a lot of time with it this year. I think the more that you do it, the more enjoyable it becomes. And I love your projects - can't wait to see the rest or your handmade Christmas!

brittani c. said...

First of all, I would love to hear your thoughts on The Bachelor. It's a sick little habit of mine that I get sucked into every season.
I agree with Taylor to a point, but I don't see how I could be any better with math/numbers. I think my number skills are innately basic. My husband thinks that I could become a good seamstress too, but without figuring out measurements, etc., I'm destined to fail. Maybe I'm pessimistic? Maybe I have to go basic to 6th grade math? :)
Overall, I think if you have a strong desire to excel in something, you can accomplish it. At the same time, not everyone can be Mozart. He was born with musical gifts.

Sally said...

Don't you love husbands. Yours sounds pretty great. My husband is the main reason that I can actually say outloud that I think I am good at certain things. He is always encouraging me and telling me to just keep at what ever it is I'm doing. And he's really good at telling me it turned out great even if it didn't. I need that.

Don't get me wrong, I still envy the creativity of so many others, but now I don't feel like they are good at everything and I'm good at nothing. I think the main thing is just to find our niche. I've tried sewing, but I usually end up using language that my Mom would say is not lady like, so I know it could be a hobby but never a career. However,scouring antique shops for cast aside jewelry that I can tediously take apart and turn into my own creation is definitely my thing.

Sorry that was a novel. I am very impressed with your sewing creations.

danielle said...

So I just came back because I have been thinking about this all day, and I had something else to say. I basically quit doing the onesie's on Etsy because I was feeling like there would always be someone else who had more time, or resources, or creativity, and could do a better job. But the thing I realized is that the reason I do things like sewing etc. is not because I am the best at it (far from it), but because its fun for me to do. So I do it...because it brings me joy. And who cares if I don't know as much as someone else. That's not the point. Like Heidi said...it's all about priorities, and how you are willing to spend your time.

Amy said...

You have such a fun blog! I think everyone has talents and everyone can excel in different areas. What it really all comes down to I think, is if you want to do something bad enough, you can do it. I sewed things as a teenager, nothing spectacular, and then I didn't really sew much until about two years ago, and I wouldn't say I am the best seamstress, there is still alot I don't know about sewing, but I love doing it, and I will push myself to learn new things because it's fun for me.

You also can't compare yourself to others, when you start doing that is when you don't think what you are doing is good enough and that's not true.

ANyways... looking forward to reading more of your blog!

Amanda said...

And I had no clue that you had a blog! Where have I been??? So, I'm just starting out on the sewing thing, and I've noticed already that with time it gets easier and easier... I'm still going to take a sewing class LOL.

And we need to get together!

BirdBrain said...

I've been reading lots of books about artists and art recently to try to get over my own fears and insecurities about creativity and art making (Art & Fear, Trust the Process, Letters to a Young Artist, and others). The biggest theme I've pulled out of these books is that in order to become a great artist, you must create art. Sure, talent can put you ahead of the pack at the beginning, but if you don't continue to create, you won't have anything to show for yourself. In the end, it's always the people who stick to it, who keep making their art, who succeed in the end.

Another recurring theme is the idea that people get better at making art by making art. Period. Talking about art can generate ideas, confidence, etc, but in order to really get anywhere, we must actually create.

I think your husband has the right idea. I try to remind myself that if I do a painting once a week for a year, I'll have around 50 paintings to show for myself. At this point, I can't even imagine having 50 paintings done! And look, you're already doing sewing projects. If you just keep at it, you'll be able to look back in a year or two and really see the work you've put into your projects and into yourself.

I am so inspired by your blog, Anne. I created one a while ago, and managed to post once on it. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to write on mine now, but if I just write one post a week.......

You get the idea. :)