Ever wonder whether an artist is born or made? I am a relative late bloomer to the artist category, but as I look back at my life, I can’t help but wonder. If I had paid more attention, would I have embraced art sooner – not just as something to do in my spare time, but something that is part of who I am.
When I was in the first grade, I had one of those square potholder looms. You know the kind you stretch loops over and then weave together. I think my mother bought it for me to keep me busy. My parents had just bought their first business, and had little time to entertain me. I absolutely loved that thing! I remember loving all the colors the loops came in, and experimenting with the different patterns I could make with them. I remember the joy of seeing the finished project as it came off the loom. I was making potholders non-stop. Now, money was tight in those days, and my mother started buying me the mixed bag of loops which were cheaper than the individual colored packages. They also weren’t the same quality. Even at 6 years old I could tell the difference between the good stuff, and the cheap stuff. This is something I still have a knack for, much to the dismay of my husband. I must have grumbled and complained about it, and I’m not sure if it was my mother’s idea or my own, but I ended up selling my potholders so that I could buy the good loops. I took a cardboard box and set it up on the sidewalk outside my parent’s shop. I carefully packaged my potholders in sandwich bags with the fold-over top, and displayed them neatly on my “display case.” I posted a sign: Potholders 1 for 15 cents 2 for 25 cents. I was in business! One day a nice lady came by and bought 4 potholders! I still remember the thrill I felt that day. Someone loved something I made enough to buy 4 of them! I even had a few custom orders. And, of course, all the money I made went back into buying more loops.
And so began the list of creative things I’ve tried in my life. After the market was saturated with my potholders, I bought a “Learn to Draw” book from an ad in the back of a magazine. I learned most of the needle crafts: crochet, knit, sew, needle point, and cross stitch. I went through a photography phase and a cake decorating phase. I dabbled in painting, took a carpentry class, and did scroll saw projects. My husband would joke that I did all these things just long enough to buy all the tools and supplies that accompany all these crafts, and then I’d move on to the next thing. He was, nevertheless, and still is supportive in all my creative adventures. What I don’t think he or I realized was that I couldn’t help myself. There was a part of me that needed to create, and I just hadn’t yet found my medium of choice.
The day I started my first stained glass project, I knew something was different. I had a sense of “where have you been all my life.” It combined all the things I had been searching for, color, texture, designing, and using my hands. How that first project came about is the topic for another blog.
So I am convinced, artists are born not made. What do you think?
BTW, I still have my loom tucked away somewhere in my house!