Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The need to create. We feel that need. While the outlets for creativity are endless, sorting through all the choices appealing to our own creative interests may take a lifetime. But, so what - it’s a journey and its fun. How glorious to put our hands and our hearts to work on creating a piece that is all ours, and “says” exactly what we want to say; that contains a piece of our heart and soul. Something we’re so proud of that we can’t wait to share it, especially with loved ones. The sharing and giving of that piece is the giving of a piece of ourselves; and there’s not a truer, more trusting, gift to be given. And it can be anything. A piece of writing, a piece of music, a quilt or other fiber art, jewelry, pottery, painting, photography, or a beezillion other lovely artistic, creative things. There’s no rule saying you have to find one area to be artistically creative in and stick with that one and only thing. There’s nothing stopping us from dipping into several different venues, only to walk away from some knowing that that particular art or craft is just not quite what we’re looking for. That it is just not making our soul sing. Its gotta make our soul sing. When it does, we know we have happened onto magic. It’s a pure gentleness that settles inside us. A whispered “yes.”

Sing. Now there’s something I’ve always wished I could do. I can’t. Surely and simply, I just can’t. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. Sometimes I just let it rip. And I know my voice is as sweetly clear as Alison Krauss’. Pffft. In my own mind!! But, that’s O.K. It just feels terrific. Throwing your head back and making a joyful noise unto the Lord just feels good. And when I see Donald squinch his eyes up ‘cause I’ve hit a note that’s made his head hurt, I have to laugh out loud. Which makes him laugh out loud. Which makes Harley bark and run in circles. And you know - that feels pretty terrific too. Honestly - what’s better than a belly laugh and a much loved furry critter running circles around your feet?

Donald, on the other hand, sings beautifully. He’s more shy about it though, so when I happen upon him singing softly while he’s working, I stand very quietly and listen and let it fill my soul as tears fill my eyes. Tis a lovely thing.

Some folks may become quite well known for their endeavors, and they deserve our applause and our continued support. What could be lovelier and more agreeable than to be able to live your life and make your livelihood from doing what you love? But those many of us who won’t ever reach that particular dream will continue creating and learning and blooming by trying new outlets. Its just something inside wanting, and needing, to find a way out while proving to us over and over again that our need to express will not be denied.

I’m interested in hearing about what creative things you do. What do you do that makes your soul sing? And what have you tried, thought you’d love, only to find out it just really wasn’t what you had hoped?

I have a whole host of things I’ve tried. A few I have loved, a few I haven’t. Not many have captured my heart completely for the long haul, and some get tucked away for periods of time only to ease themselves back into my mind sometimes many years later needing to come out and play again.

Cooking. My very first "for fun" class ever as an adult was a cooking class. Ursula's Cooking School in Atlanta. I'm still, however, one of the most boring cooks on God's green earth. I leave the cooking to my friend Nan who is The Queen of Cooking. for real.

Music. Big sigh. I keep trying, but the fact of the matter is - this is hopeless. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and I’m virtually tone deaf. Tried the guitar - ended up giving that to my cousin Bruce. We do have a dulcimer and it gets strummed on occasion - wish Donald would keep up with it a little more ‘cause he’s very good.

Basket making. I took a class and made the ugliest basket known to man. But because I just knew I was going to love it (I did not), I bought tons of basket making supplies which I promptly gave away.

Knitting. I took a knitting class about a million years ago. I knitted a sweater for a former husband, I knitted a sweater for my dad (which my mom now has and wears on really cold days). I knitted a popcorn pattern hat and mittens (which I still have). And that was the end of my knitting. Until just a few years ago when knitting made a big comeback. I love hand knitted pieces. Anything and everything hand knitted is beautiful to me. But I didn’t want to do sweaters or hats or mittens. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted to knit! Just endlessly knit. No patterns, nothing in particular as an end result. So I went to the local knitting shop (which is filled with such gorgeous threads and fibers I could move right in), and asked the young woman working there how much yarn I would need to knit (no purling) an afghan of a particular size. I just walked around the shop picking up skeins of yarn in shades of reds and pinks in different weights and textures. Needless to say, to a true knitter this was not the way things were done. The young woman was curious and a bit skeptical about what I wanted to do and asked me to let her know how it turned out. It turned out exactly as my heart’s eye had envisioned it. I love it. It makes me smile whenever I look at it draped over my favorite red chair. And my “need” to knit was sated. Who knows when it might return?

Needlepoint. I love to needlepoint. Somehow though, I’ve ended up with very little of it. The many, many pieces I did back when I was very much into needlepoint were all given as gifts, so I don’t have much of it around my own house. I do have one canvas that I’m working on. When I say “working on,” I mean I pull it out every so often and do a little, then it gets put away for awhile. This particular piece I'm working on has been in the works now for a few years. It’s a hoot and fun and colorful and whimsical. A group of women sitting around a pizza having a chat.
This canvas is from Maggie & Co., and the artist is Jerry Fenter.

Counted Cross Stitch. I love doing reproduction samplers. Or modern samplers that integrate old stitches that were in danger of disappearing. Doing just little crosses doesn’t appeal to me, but the more intricate stitches appeals to me greatly.

And I love how plain old floss has evolved into the gorgeous hand dyed works of art that it has. Just being surrounded by the gorgeous dyed linens and silks of today’s counted cross stitching is an aesthetic high.

Weaving. Took a class - several, actually. One from Betty Smith in Atlanta. Betty teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School, or used to - I’ve lost track of her, but she is a weaver extraordinaire, and a great teacher. Took another class at the Chastain Arts Center in Atlanta, and at the Dream Weavers Studio in Atlanta. I love weaving. But I just don’t seem to “get” it. First of all, dressing the loom is not a fun thing to me. The fun part is throwing that shuttle and watching my work actually come alive. Dressing the loom involves some mathematics (eek!), and it takes a lot of time. I dressed a loom one time thinking I was going to have a beautiful, long shawl. I was surprised when I started throwing the shuttle and my shawl was done so quickly. What I ended up with was a belt. A short belt. Pitiful. The one piece I did make that I’m quite proud of is a gorgeous ivory silk boucle shawl. ‘Course, I could have bought one for less than 1/3 of what it cost me considering the cost of the silk and the class, but it is a beauty.

Pottery. Man oh man - did I ever want to be a potter. Mm mm. Let’s just say, I have a huge respect for potters. I no longer think pottery prices are too high. If you have zero strength in your hands, and if you don’t much care for mud dripping off your glasses, or stuck in your hair, being a potter may not be in your future either.

Jewelry making. That I love. I have only taken one class from local jewelry artisan Jim Rice which was a full semester long, and have some wonderful pieces that I’m very proud of.
But do I love it enough to want to take more classes and continue learning? Undecided.

My latest class was one I took last summer and I must say, I loved it. Some of you may have heard of Cathy Taylor who is a watercolor and collage artist. She did a one week class here in Boone at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. I’ve always had a fascination with collage art, and this was a class I loved.

Cheap Joe aka Joe Miller is quite the artist himself, and has built an unbelievable studio for guest artists to come and give classes. I cannot recommend these classes, or Cheap Joe’s supply house highly enough. Take a look on-line at his store, his set-up and the line-up of artists and classes and think about attending one. They are simply fantastic.


Truth of the matter is that right now I’m doing hardly any of these things.

I read.
And I’ve discovered I quite like writing pieces just like this one.

And I fully expect that the circle will continue and one of these days will find me curled up in my red chair with a piece of needlework in my hands.

Whatever makes my soul sing at a particular time . . .


Anonymous said...

What a kind remark about my cooking - thank you.

However, Kaye Alan, I must tell you that I am ticked that you did not mention my knitting -- makes no difference that I have finished only 1 project in 4 years; makes no difference that the shawl I finished looks like it's done in lacey crochet instead of plainly knitted in stockinet (is that right) stitch; makes no difference that the knitting instructors at the knit shop roll their eyes and RUN when I enter the store; makes no difference that my knitting friend and neighbor shakes her head and begins ripping out the stitches I so lovingly knitted , dropped and knotted and never even looks to see if any of them suit her persnickety vision - she just keeps on ripping and it makes no difference that I brought the letters 'KUI' (knitting under the influence) into the knitting vocabulary so frequently used by the gossiping old ladies in my home town.

Makes no difference though, I love you anyway --- just don't ask me to knit anything for you in this lifetime.

Love you

Becky said...

Well, I read, I write, I paint, I sing, I play piano, guitar, dulcimer, and a pretty mean kazoo. Ask Jimmy....

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...


oh oh oh - I love this! Y'all? Meet my friend Nan. One of my oldest and best girlfriends. We've only known one another since the early 70's, so we're still in the "getting to know you" phase of our friendship. Otherwise, I would have known what to mention or what not to mention besides praising the woman's cooking.

Nan is a wealth of creativity. Her garden is always a peaceful haven of beauty and serenity.

I'm so tickled you stopped by honey! Thank you. It means a lot.

Well, Becky! Honey Girl! You are a gal of MANY talents - not the least of which is that Kazoo!!

I'm gonna have to try the Kazoo. That's one musical instrument I might, just maybe, be able to master. Ya think??

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! I've been through a few phases myself.

Took accordion lessons once. Took organ lessons once. Went through a decoupage era when I put everything I could lay hands on into decoupage. Went through a gourmet cooking phase that lasted almost 25 years. Anything you want to know about food,just ask me. (-:

The most satisfying thing I have ever done is writing of some kind. A lot of it (like this)is just scribbling. I'm a born scribbler. (-:

Anyway -- loved reading about your adventures.

Pat Browning

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye Darlin', I had no idea you had dipped your cute little toes into so many streams of creativity. Yet, I'm not surprised. I think everyone should try everything once, the good things, twice.

Helen Ginger said...

Kaye, you have a lot of creativity in you, clearly.

Like Pat, I took an accordion lesson (maybe two) when I was a kid. I tend to try things until.... Like, I did ceramics until my kiln short-circuited and burned the garage. I did cross stitch until it became too hard on my eyes. I tried knitting until I gave up - no matter how big my needles were (and I got some mighty fat ones), my stitches were so tight I couldn't get the needles through (that was during the time of a stressful job). I do like to sing, but know it's a joyful noise I should keep to myself. Writing's about the one creative outlet I've kept all my life.

Helen Ginger

Jen Forbus said...

Oh Kaye, this was a fun, fun post! I have been trying to ween myself off of some of my crafts lately because I just see something and want to do it! Then I get all kinds of supplies, and I do work on them. I've just ended up with SO many crafty hobbies that I can't possibly do them all. And like you, reading takes up much of my time these days, so I have to be more particular. Having said that...

I learned to play the clarinet when I was in school. I played for about five years, I guess. I wasn't bad, just didn't really enjoy that. It fulfilled my music requirement for school. When it comes to music, I'd much rather listen than create! :)

I have done counted cross stitch for years and years and years. I first learned to needlepoint and then moved to cross stitch, but I don't find myself doing that quite so much these days.

I learned to crochet in high school and that's probably my forte, I'd say. It took me awhile. Like Helen I started out with extremely tight stitches...when they gave the gauge of a project, I'd have to double it at least! But the kind soul teaching me how to crochet told me to be patient and the consistency would come with time. I have it down pat now! :) My project this year is "use the scrap yarn project." I have so much that I've refused to throw out because it's not an insignificant amount, but it's not enough for a whole project either so it's been left in the yarn bins. They're overtaking my attic now, so it's time to do something with them. I'm making an assortment of basic granny squares in pretty much every color imaginable. Then I'll put them together in afghans. The afghans of many colors! They may end up being donated to the animal shelter...but where ever they end up, at least I'll feel like I DID something with the yarn and didn't throw it out! :)

I can knit - sort of. I've only made scarves, but everyone loves them, so I've not had a chance to move on to any other projects with the knitting.

And finally I scrapbook/paper craft. I have a whole book devoted to my choclate lab Hershey! I also made a mini book with the authors I've visited! That one is a work in progress.

The way I manage to get my reading in with my crafts is the beautiful concept of audio books. I listen to one while I craft...I think these days they call that multi-tasking!

Thanks for the fun post, Kaye!! :) Hope you feel better soon!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hi, everyone! Sorry to have been absent. The cold from hell has made me grumpy, and couldn't for the life of me bring myself to be grumpy here at M&M!

I've never known anyone who took accordion lessons, or who plays the accordion, and here we have two.

Pat, as far as being a born scribbler? You're a born storyteller, I know that!

Helen Ginger. oh wow. I am honored that you dropped by. Thank you. Y'all - Helen's blog is one not to be missed. I especially recommend her to those of you who write, or are up & coming, yet to be published, writers.

Jen!!! I swear. We are just alike. Why do we feel the need to buy every single tool we think "might" be necessary in our latest endeavors?? When I took this last class at Cheap Joe's, OMG. I should have been shot for how bad I was. But the collage thing is a bunch of fun, and I'm enjoying it loads. Haven't done much this winter 'cause I like doing them in my sunroom, and it is not the warmest spot to be during the winter months.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting to read about everyone's creative outlets!

I'm hoping to explore creativity more in the next couple of months and maybe even begin to use up some of those 'raw materials' [think packrat] I've been saving for just this purpose. To date, I've dabbled in crocheting (started a baby afghan nearly 40 years ago because my mother thought the small size would be suitable for a beginner; haven't finished it yet), made quite a few counted cross-stitch pieces, all of which I gave away, and now am scrapbooking, which I love. And, like Jen and you, Kaye, before I really got started, I bought everything I could imagine I might someday need so I have enough for a small store. I still love looking at it all though and one day I'll use it or pass it on to someone who can.

The collage work sounds so interesting and it's something I'm planning on exploring.


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Deborah - this story about the baby afghan had me in stitches.

(oops - sorry about that bad pun! totally accidental!!!!!)

You're going to have some time to explore and play and just enjoy the heck out of being creative and I can't wait to hear what you're in to!