Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Creative Origins Story

            I often get asked how I manage to get so much done in a day- truth is I don't. I just have very different priorities in my day than most other people. To me a day without creativity and making is a day wasted- unless it's outside at the beach or on a trail- I do make exceptions! My journey as a maker started when I was very young- watching my Mom sew things for both my sister and I to wear, my Grandma Shirley was always busy either painting or crocheting slippers for us, my Grandpa in his wood shop tinkering with one project or another. From that early age I was influenced by people making and doing all around me- even my Dad changing the oil in his car or paneling our Chevy van gave me the impression you don't pay other people to do what you know you can do.

          For them this may have all been a matter of economy- both sets of my Grandparents lived through tough times and world events that not many of us can relate to. My Grandma Shirley was a young girl when her family farm was lost in the great depression- she saved string, twist ties and tin foil- she had an sense of economy that few in my generation can understand. My Grandma Olga moved to Canada from Serbia when she was a young girl- fleeing a soon to be war torn country- lucky to have a ticket to Canada where a brighter, more peaceful future awaited. She understood loving people through food and home sewn clothing- she understood the need to comfort- a legacy that continues throughout our family.

        These are my roots- the origin of what drives me to make and create- to see something and think "I can make that" instead of buying it. It's to these roots that I seem to return time and time again- in times when I need to relax, to lose myself in a pattern or painting- in times when money is tight- in times when I just want to be different! Recently my passion for making things has become much more of a political statement- searching out alternatives to conventional fashion has become the driving force behind what I do.

          In the past year or so I have become really interested on the impact of textiles on the environment and our role as consumers in such a disposable industry. It all started when I took the Seam Allowance Pledge to make one in four of my clothing items- once I was sewing my own clothes again I become so aware of the fleeting nature of disposable fashion- how the industry markets fashion to us in a manner that makes us crave more, new, fresh items all the time- all with an incredibly low price tag. I feel much of the textile industry is fast fashion- akin to fast food- a $9 Joe Fresh t-shirt is made in the same place as a $35 Gap t-shirt and they are both completely disposable after a very short time. 

        I feel that in a world where craftsman ship and quality are quickly being lost to the influx of fast fashion it is important to stand up and yell- yes yell- STOP! Stop and look what you have in your hand- when did buying groceries become synonymous with buying clothes and household goods? In North America we all have way more than we possibly know what to do with- more t-shirts, sweaters and towels than one person could possibly ever need!

      Again to draw a parallel between food and textiles - Michael Pollan ever so famously said "don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food"- the same can be said for the textiles in our lives- how many of our Grandmothers had a stack of t-shirts in their dresser. My goal is to make beautiful, quality items that have a low impact on the environment and will stand the test of time- heirloom pieces. Just as I would never ask you not to eat I would never ask anyone not to shop- but do so responsibly and recognize the impact your purchase will have on the earth.

         While my creative roots spring from humble beginnings I feel that my journey has brought me to a purpose filled place- marrying my two loves of environmentalism and creating into the practice you see here today. Every artist is constantly evolving- change is good- never knowing yourself and always continuing that quest is what makes life interesting. The skills I use today were taught to me at a very young age- just by being exposed to such a do it yourself attitude I never thought there was anything I couldn't make with my hands- making something out of nothing fascinates me. So while my Grandparents utilized their skills to make due or survive events like the depression and war I am fortunate enough to live in a time when I can "follow my passion" and make things for the shear joy of being creative- how amazing is that?

" We have to continually be jumping off of cliffs and developing our wings on the way down"
Kurt Vonnegut       

A big huge Thank You to Andrea Collins and her adorable little family for spending some time with me and taking these photos! You can see more of her work here!


  1. I love it! I would like to lament that I have no skills and I can't possibly make my children's clothes, however while my skills aren't as good as yours, I could practice. I should get on that, because I agree. I have a giant stack of tshirts, they are destroyed so quickly (seriously do they come pre-stained and pre-holed?). My kids, esp my boy, go through clothes at an alarming rate and I try ever so hard to buy good quality stuff that stands up to wear and tear and growth. (Hanna Andersson is great for this, but so expensive!)
    Some day. Until then, I cook.

    1. I think that there is no reason for you to lament- we all do the best that we can with our given set of skills- you are cognisent of the choices you are making- more so than most folks. Plus with so many amazing choices in sustainable clothing for children- like Hanna Andersson- you are making the best choices for your family AND sticking to your morals. Chosing to support sustainable companies, small- work from home Momma run businesses or second hand clothing is one way to make good choices with out having to sew yourself!

      PS- I'm no where near perfect- of course our kid's have clothes from Old Navy- we bought their winter coats there last year because it was what we could afford at the time- you do what you can and just keep trying to do better the next time!

  2. I just love this! My grandparents had such a huge affect on me as well. I just wish I absorbed some of my grandmother's craftiness, especially the quilting. She did it all with such grace and lightness. I am shocked at how little I accomplish compared to them and how much more stressful it all seems these days. I'm so happy you are carrying on these traditions. Crafting with awareness of consumption is another valuable lesson of our age.

    1. I love how you describe your Grandmother's quilting technique "grace and lightness" - so lovely!

  3. Such an inspiring post! I have a craft closet full of fabrics that I bought with the intention of getting back into sewing and just never 'get around to it'. You've inspired me to practice sewing again and maybe even try my hand at some clothes for my daughter!

    1. Thats so exciting to hear! I love looking at my fabric stash and deciding what gem to turn into a special piece of clothing!


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