Sunday, March 16, 2008

Raise your hopeful voice

I have been expanding my crafting skills, to embroidery this time. I have always been interested in some kind of needlework. When I was younger, my grandma taught me how to cross stitch with plastic canvas, like the kind you'd see on tacky tissue box holders or coasters. I still have a half-finished project in my sewing box. I also remember cross stitching my initials onto a handkerchief during a day camp at Mahaffie Farmstead, a living history museum in my town. There is something so historical about cross stitch, I think that is part of its appeal for me. Not that knitting isn't historical, but I love looking at historic samplers. They are so intricate and I can just imagine some young girl sitting in her parlor, slaving away over her sampler. For Christmas, my sister received a sampler kit from Colonial Williamsburg which I promptly stole for my own. Add that to the list of summer projects.

But anyway, last summer, in a fit of inspiration, my sister and I rushed to Hobby Lobby and Michaels to procure some embroidery floss and tshirts. I think she wanted to make an "Omaha is for lovers I don't have to love" tshirt (a la Craftster and Conor Oberst) but our plans took off from there. She embroidered her shirt with little help from me and started on her second design, a cherry tree with little penguins nestled in its branches. She has not completed it as far as I know.

Inspired by this Joanna Newsom album cover, I decided to use the ship design and make a Joanna Newsom shirt. Joanna Newsom being a great harpist, although some may consider her voice to be an acquired taste.

I am pleased with it for the most part. The ship came out nicely, but the text is a little too small for the tshirt. Additionally, the tshirt itself does not fit me very well. It is too short and the sleeves are unflattering. But it gets the occasional wear and the even more occasional compliment.

Delving back into cross stitch, I decided to make a small present for my friend Ashley's birthday. She is a big fan of, well, her vagina. So inspired by Subversive Cross Stitch, I designed this:

It was quite a fun project. It is gratifying to see something you designed yourself become an actual object. I made good use of the color function on Excel to create a pattern. I mostly just estimated for the sizing, which you can tell if you look at the bottom right corner. But Ashley was quite happy with it, which was nice. The really cool, and I guess obvious, thing about Subversive Cross Stitch is that it seems like an oxymoron. No one expects cross stitch to say something inappropriate. It really helps break the classic stereotype that crafters are old women and that is awesome. And did you see the limited edition Natalie Dee valentines? So cool!

Over spring break I was able to break out the embroidery floss yet again. I saw a drawing by my boyfriend's sister's friend of a whale with flowers growing out of its mouth and that put me in a whale mood. I sketched out this drawing one night while watching Lars and the Real Girl and decided to embroider it onto a plain tshirt I had laying around, waiting for a moment like this.

It is simple, but I liked its box shape and its knowing smile. I have such a hard time trying to make things that are "cute." Although I think of myself as crafty, I am not artistic. Creating original things does not come easily to me as it does to others. This whale was firstly inspired by someone else's drawing, but I also remembered this shirt that my sister and I made a few years ago.
Where does your creativity come from? Is it possible to be completely original? To create in a vacuum without other influences? Does it take practice or is it one of those things you either have or you don't? I don't know myself.


Eliea said...

think all creativity and craftyness comes from an idea that came from someone else. even if it's only a tiny bit.
There really isn't anything new on this earth, clothing and movies are all simillar or like things from the past, The same goes with car design, home decor, etc.
but I think that's why creativity is so amazing. You never know what will feed it!

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

i love you'r tshirts. you have inspired me! my 'boring' tshirts will never be boring again.