Ever since I can remember, creativity was encouraged as a “good” thing. It was easy to imagine that I might grow up to be an artist! In college, I was lucky enough to discover the theatre and majored in costume design. A theatre design major offered what I hadn’t found in either a fashion design or art major – “collaboration” – wonderful, talented people to work with. The curtain going up provided an absolute deadline. There was always another project demanding creative attention with the next show. I found it very fun and satisfying.
When I started my own business, a retail fabric store which has since evolved into a “quilt shop” called Sew Natural, I benefited from that experience.
Today, 30 years later, I still consider myself an artist first and a reluctant business person second. I find that I do my best creative work under pressure. If I am having trouble getting started, I will list the problems that need to be solved. Usually heading the list, is the date by which the project must be completed!
Once I’m immersed in a project, I need to find more hours in a row to give it full attention to complete. However, most of my creative projects are built on a few snatches of time, often while multi-tasking. I work best, first thing in the morning, with a cup of strong coffee. I often push the envelope of my available time, gulping down yogurt as I dry my hair just minutes before I need to be at the store. I’ve found that the shower can wash away the creative juices, so I postpone that as long as possible!
Nothing like having to “go” to work! The structure of having to be somewhere else, is helpful in building the desire to get back into the studio to do creative work. No one works in a vacuum, and I am lucky to be exposed to many great ideas, and talented people, every day.
One recent example:
This past spring, Creative Grids Rulers challenged shop owners to make a 36” long quilt row using one of their rulers, then ran a contest on Facebook all summer, asking people to Like their favorite quilt “row” submissions. A Creative Grids Ruler had to be used in construction. The design had to be a certain height and length. It had to represent a season. And there was a deadline! Oh, one other thing, it couldn’t be too complicated, as the quilt rows were to be written as patterns and given away for free to participants in the Row By Row Experience, a new kind of quilt shop hop.
The Row By Row Experience had a seasonal theme. This included a series of trees looking different in each season. I started wondering what the small cardinal in the leaf-less winter tree saw looking out across the field of snow. One thing leading to another, I came up with the idea of the cardinal building himself a snowman friend. I found the perfect Creative Grids Ruler to cut 3 different size circles to create the snowman, and I was off and running! I worked early mornings on the design, and tweeked it in the evenings. With the deadline for photography looming, I finally had a chance to take an entire morning to stitch the row and sewed it into a table runner, in case one didn’t want to make an entire quilt.
My row was one of the top vote getters! My own design, but it owes much to others. The quilt industry is full of gifted, industrious, generous people. I am so inspired by and very lucky to be a part of this global community!
I’d love to hear from you via social media, or if you’re ever in the area stop by the store and say hi in person. – Charlotte