Decluttering, heart and home

Autumn – letting go … why reducing your stash might increase your creativity

 

Sunday sevens - playful

We live in a time of peace and plenty, thankfully. I can buy not only what I need, but every whim and want is just a click away.  The downside is that I no longer have to problem solve, fix or make do, but hold on –  isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

We are born creators, great if you were living hand to mouth or living during the war but it comes with problems in our modern world. My creative imagination wreaks havoc not just with my crafting,  but with spending.  I get carried away at supermarkets so much so that I avoid them. I know a week later and I am throwing out rotting vegetables that never materialised into the hearty soup of my imagination as I zipped up and down the aisles one idea after another. Craft stuff doesn’t have an expiry date.

My creativity drives a lot of buying because I need to pursue an idea – but when you are really creative, one idea spins on to the next and before I realise I am looking at a mountain of stuff.

I felt stuck recently – uninspired and uncreative. I haven’t been idle though – being at home all day, has made me realise that I need to get my house in order! I won’t share my shame… the craft room was an utter shambles and not functional – littered with boxes and items stacked up high. My sewing machine lost among an assemblage of… stuff!  I had to wipe dust off the cover! But I am being honest with you about my creativity because its time blogging was about honesty and not just the illusion of perfection I felt obligated to maintain.

Quote of the week

Autumn is the perfect time, after all aren’t the trees getting ready to let go and do it in the most spectacular style?  Sorting through my stash slowly and methodically –  has been a bitter sweet experience. There have been half completed projects that I have thrown out, partly because they haven’t worked or that they just don’t inspire me to continue. Sometimes that idea has come from a Pinterest pin – or a magazine article but what I discovered going through my piles of UFOs is that it was those projects I most regretted.

It has been challenging, because I have been confronted a whole pile of failure – not to mention the cost of materials involved – laid to waste.

It isn’t easy to confront your own impulsive buying and creative projects that have ended up disasters. To open up yet another plastic bag of half completed stitchery – that seems beyond redemption, but it is worth doing.  Disposing of these items is cathartic, my creative space is no longer plagued by ghosts of projects past.

There is a lesson I have learned since having my own studio space

shops are not the best place for creativity to flourish

When I had my first studio – I wanted it to be my very own store, where everything I needed to create would be right at hand – but that was a mistake.

  • I ended up focussing more on acquiring than I did on creativity.
  • As the stuff piled up – I had less time for creating because I had to keep on re-organising my space.
  • All that stuff became oppressive – the project inspiration seemed to evaporate as a new idea or a Pinterest pin, seemed more exciting.
  • My bookshelves groaned as more books and ideas were added including more ideas.
  • I spent all my spare time stocking my shelves little realising I was actually putting off being creative.

The reality struck me that I was surrounded by broken promises and my sanctuary became full of ghosts which filled me with shame.

Each project was a promise – time for me to express myself, time to be creative – but each time a project was snuffed in a bag, or hidden away in boxes, I was actually breaking my own promise to myself that one day I would be give myself permission to sit down and create.

So these ideas have re-surfaced, uncovered among other debris – and they rise up to challenge me – are you actually going to do this?

I cannot ignore that I am floating in the wide river of consumerism that surrounds me, it is our modern world – we can’t escape it. Beyond the frenzy of buying I was raising my eyes and wondering what is going to happen when we discover our resources are finite.  Nor can I ignore the pictures of the debris floating in our oceans.

Will we look back at this time and see all the waste for what it is?

There is a little stand outside my front door where people donate things they no longer need and it is rare that I walk past without looking. Perhaps this desire to make something beautiful out of objects that would end up landfill is my own small way of saving the planet, giving purpose to my creativity by re-inventing something to being useful again. From now on, when I take or buy something – I label it with an expiry date. If I haven’t done it by then, then it is time to let go.

I’ve unearthed  a thick stainless steel tray, scratched and boring – in my minds eye, would look beautiful decorated in barge painting – I see it  all pastel greens, pinks, yellows and blues. I have to admit, my barge painting skills are definitely not up to the standard of my imagination, but I can give it a try. It has an expiry date of the 30th September!

Letting go – is liberating, not having these unfinished projects lurking like ghosts – clears the space and frees up the mental chatter to begin anew.

 

you have to begin with a blank page

Every artist begins with a blank canvass; what I discovered is that to be creative you just need a clear space on a table – not a whole room or a studio or a library, just enough space to be. It’s something I had forgotten – when I had kids growing up – I made a little space here and there. I dreamed of having a whole room for years and after having a whole room for years – I know it doesn’t make you any more productive.

Letting go makes so much more sense doesn’t it?

Having my creative space back has lifted my spirits, having tools in one place has meant I save time and money –  I don’t spend ages looking for it – and I will be honest here, looking for it meant confronting a heap of stuff – so clicking to ‘buy one’ always seemed the better option. It is why I have a pot full of scissors!

Projects grouped by subject has re-connected the inspiration – I have unearthed beautiful fabrics, re-united inspirational images and patterns that have been stacked away out of sight. I have found all my scissors, needles, seam rippers (I could never find one when I needed one!) spools and spools of thread in bright shades of the rainbow – there is a basket of wool in colours that make my heart sing.

I have challenged myself to make something out of all the items in my stash – before moving on to new things. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

I have promises to keep and long evenings to relish; winter is coming, but Autumn is the ripe time for letting go.

 

Adventures, life lessons, Minamalism

Careful what you wish for… a lesson in minimalism

I have been interested in the concept of minimalism for some time now.  I have been enjoying reading a wide range of bloggers on the subject, made easier by using the iPad app. (it is wonderful, I can’t believe I hadn’t used it before!)

Quilt

When we moved last year, I was shocked at the huge quantity of craft materials I had accumulated over the years. It is surprising how much I had squirrelled away in nooks and crannies, but when I finally got a large studio space in which to set it all out, the room was soon full to overflowing. It did connect me with a lot of UFOS, one of which was this quilt above. I resolved not to buy any more fabric until some of these things were used or finished. It was quite satisfying, because this quilt took no more than a few hours to complete, it was the same for many other little projects.

We live in a very sought after area, it had taken us 18 months to find a property having had many struggles and blips in the process – but despite taking a lease for 2-3 years, we discovered that the landlord wanted to raise the rent by nearly £500 per month! without much notice… in fact the new agreement was overdue. We decided to look elsewhere and found the most delightful house and organised to pack up and move. I don’t know if any of you rent, but Agents give you days not weeks to move!

So, the moving day arrived, I headed to work as Scott was arranging the removal with a local company – imagine what a shock it was to discover that the new Landlord had taken a dislike to the fact we were self employed and had decided, at the 11th hour, not to let the property at all…..!

All our stuff went into storage… we checked into a nearby hotel and suddenly the concept of minimalism became a big reality. We ended up having to buy underwear and a few items of clothing in order to get through the next few days! We faced a choice, either move back into my flat or go house hunting again … at the time I was due to go to the hospital to investigate the lump in my breast so I decided that it was best to return to the flat and have a bit of stability for a while.

It  has been an interesting lesson – shockingly all our stuff required three storage units – and many of the boxes had not even been unpacked in a year! We decided to spend just one afternoon sorting through and bringing ‘essentials’ to the flat.

It was fascinating to see what I missed and what we deemed essential.

Initially furniture to sit on! We had one armchair and a rocking chair, (which was not very comfortable at all!) so it was an absolute pleasure to see the return of my sofa bed. It was bliss to see the washing machine and tumble dryer!

My clothes were a sight for sore eyes! Although only about a third of them came back to the flat with me – the flat is a quarter of the size of the house!

So over the last few months there has been a bit of a mantra.. oh that is in storage!

For example, I thought I would make a shepherd’s pie and was almost finished before I realised I hadn’t a pyrex dish to put it in. Or I decided to do baking one day, but it was impossible without scales! We have been rather lucky to find these things in charity shops, but it has been an interesting few months.

 

Mostly it is my sewing tools that I find I miss – my cutting grid, or my rotary cutter! We were going to friends for Christmas this year, so I decided to make my own crackers – including felt hats.. which all had to be hand stitched as I did not have my glue gun!

I miss our large tea pot, the Christmas Decorations, my essential oils, the sellotape dispenser!

I did not realise either, just how much I miss my books, in the end I bought another copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Romancing the Ordinary, because I could not bear to be without it.

It has been a sifting exercise, a reality check – and it has surprised me at times what I missed and what I didn’t.

What is clear to me, is how blessed I really am and how many things in life might not be essential – but they are small things that make life pleasurable.

What do you think you couldn’t live without?