Do you know how hard it is to be a hyperactive grandmother?
I have ADHD and even though my body has slowed down, my mind has not. Though physically I am not bouncing off the walls, my brain is. I have learned that to stay sane I need to keep my brain and my hands very (very) busy.
So, I make a lot of stuff. Some of it to present as gifts and get the loving hug that fills up my heart (and ego), some of it for the sheer joy of making, most of it because it is therapeutic and some of it because I can, so why not. I love creating things.
A couple years ago I entered a piece I had made for consideration as part of an art gallery installation titled, Floored. I was a stressed mess. I knew that my piece would be completely different than the other pieces and doubt shadowed me throughout the whole process. I was encouraged by a friend to do it, so I did. It was accepted!
A few days after the show had been open to the public, someone said to me, "You know, you should just stick with making one thing." This was not said in a nice way. It was obvious that my piece did not match up to the yard stick this person was wielding with great authority (that had not been granted).
Pink Poppies on drop cloth, painted with indoor/outdoor watercolor paint and stitched with Navajo rug yarn. Made for me, for my office, for my pleasure but ended up in a gallery for all to see. It's like being naked on stage.
Honestly, it was not a polite thing to say, but it was a powerful thing. At least to me. It made me want to try ALL KINDS OF THINGS, because I am a redhead and we rebel. I ended up taking a wood carving class after that little comment. I carved a spirit face out of cottonwood. First one, last one. I have also since taken a pottery class, a glass blowing class and a bead making class. That one sentence uttered by that human changed my creative process. I had always dabbled here and there but now I was fueled and went into a fantastic frenzy of artistic taste testing.
Every single class I have taken (and will take in the future) positively affects my real loves (embroidery, knitting, writing and watercolor). Touching the wood, feeling the kiln heat, seeing the colors of the glass melding together, breathing into the blowpipe, wetting the clay...all of it, makes me better at the things I really love, especially writing. It also makes my life more interesting which makes me more interesting and I can use all the help I can get.
Top L to R: Original pattern for a commissioned embroidery using yarn, the famous one and done wood carving, my current never-ending knit project. Bottom L to R: My pattern design being light boarded onto fabric, the finished piece, a little nighttime watercolor fun.
One of my heroes, Sue Spargo, uses her travels to ignite the muse. Her color combos and wool applique are quirky and fun because of her worldly meanderings. My friend, Helen (@ovobloom on IG) is an amazing textile artist and if you look at her Instagram you can see her delving into ocean life, floral arrangements, moss study and stained glass to find her next creative move.
So here you go, my friend. I am handing you a virtual but no less powerful permission slip for the field trip of a lifetime. CREATE A LOT OF THINGS. Try a lot of things, touch a lot of things, take weird classes, read all types of books and then take notes about the tactile and spiritual things that you take away from those experiences. Then infuse those things into what you are creating.
And remember, whether it is quilts, knitting, spinning, weaving, painting, or embroidery...don't let anyone come near you with their yardstick.
Kim Weitkamp-Gum is the founder of The Secret Stitching Society and an avid gardener. She is a creative soul and the guardian of a glorious thread stash that she likes to look at while drinking wine. Kim is also a writer and performer with 8 audio collections and an armload of awards. Her true passion is empowering others to find their creative self. Find out more about Kim at www.kimweitkamp.com
or on instagram @kimusic @kim_broidery