When I received my Box & Bow Christmas package on my doorstep, I got a little magical feeling. What’s this? As I unwrapped the package there were four lovely festive gifts; a beautiful bottle of mulled cider syrup, star chocolate pop, wooden tree sprinkles, perfect for a party table or to put in Christmas cards and bar of Candy Cane chocolate. All dressed up beautifully with a little hay and Christmas ribbon.
Tis the season to be jolly, to decorate our homes with random pieces of delight and get ready for the biggest celebration of the year. So what makes the most non-crafty of us get the urge to pull out some glue and glitter and join the surge of creativity at this time of year?
#1 BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
Burrr, yes it is a little chilly. Those long walks in the park and being outside in the warm weather have passed. It’s time to keep warm and cosy inside, but what to do? Yes there is the TV, but actually there are things you can make too, the decorations for the tree, the wreath for the front door or even Christmas cards for your friends. With more time on our hands inside, it’s no wonder we are more tempted to get making.
Nestled amongst the pretty independent eateries and retro shops on Dartmouth Road in South-London’s Forrest Hill, the beautiful Stag and Bow haberdashery is a gem to be admired.
Inside the vintage styled store are a carefully curated collection of must have modern crafting materials and equipment: from Debbie Bliss Wool, to Tilly and The Buttons & Sew Over It dress making patterns and DMC thread to Jennie Maizels Iron Patches. Then there are pretty little bits that all us crafters adore, in delicate bowls, vintage clothes and great craft books.
When I arrived on a Wednesday morning, I was greeted by a table of ladies who were all sat centrally around a large table making their personal projects, over a cup of tea in an Art Deco cup and saucer ( of course). Some were sewing, some knitting, all gossiping. Which makes me love the heart of this store, there is a huge sense of community which brings a warm and welcoming feel.
Flora Forager aka Bridget Beth Collins has had the kind of success story I love to see on Instagram. I started following her feed around a year ago, she makes the most intricately exquisite masterpieces from flowers, twigs, leaves… Anything natural. The designs are sometimes homages to artistic masters but often totally original ideas. Through her original art she has developed a mass social media following and become a social influencer leading to artwork commissions for magazines such as Country Living and House and Garden.
She says “I love to adventure into the wildflower woodlands, mossy waterfalls, and grey sand starry expanses of the Pacific Northwest. I forage almost all of my creations from foliage and flowers plucked from our sidewalks, meadows, and woods in our neighbourhood. I have a small garden in the city, and my mother has a big rambling secret garden filled with old english roses in the sea town of Edmonds where I grew up.
I graduated with honours from Seattle Pacific University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. I grew up in the wings so to speak, and am a product of all its dark, magical, sparkly world. Though the only stage I current now is the constant one I live in. I spend my days painting, writing, and playing with my boys. (There’s a great deal of mundane thrown in, but that’s a bore to add to a bio).”
Maybe I noticed her magical work because of my own passion for fairytale, she like me studied the theatre, has a boy and LOVES flowers!
I would urge you to buy a copy of her glorious journal, to be inspired every day of the year Flora Forager: A Seasonal Journal Collected from Nature
Photo: Tiffany Mumford
Creativity: The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, method sand interpretations
Lots of people tell me during their busy lives, of work, kids, dogs, Game of Thrones…they simply don’t have time to be creative, then they host an amazing kids party, bake a cake fit for a queen, have an impeccably designed house or simply write a beautiful message in a card. So I believe most of us do have a creative spirit, but we just may not recognise it.
The word creativity often scares some people, they remember back to being at school where art class was a chore not a pleasure. Admittedly this is not something I can ever imagine, this was where I found most of my freedom. Often creativity has been taught academically based on drawing skills alone and if this skill didn’t come naturally, people often suffer from a lifetime of un-confidence and fear of the words art, craft, drawing, baking,writing, or simply creative. Some of you also may have loved those art classes, you may have been great at them, but you don’t get a chance to indulge your creative streak as much as you would like to as an adult.
As we all know, thinking creatively is liked to wellbeing, happiness and relaxation. So what are you waiting for, take these tips to heart and you may just ignite your own creative spirit.
1. Make time away from technology & television.
If you add up all the time we spend in front of the TV or on our smartphones it’s more than we sleep!
“Communications regulator Ofcom said UK adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day on media devices, compared with the average night’s sleep of eight hours and 21 minutes.” BBC News
Schedule in creative time, whether at home or attending a class. The best way to do this is to start a project, for beginners why not try your had at a craft kit working on it one evening a week or attending a craft café? For more advanced creative plan a project using your skill-set, having a purpose often helps with motivation for example painting a picture for the downstairs loo or sewing a skirt for a party.
2. Craft and bake with your kids or like a kid.
Being creative comes naturally to all children, its how they learn, so maybe you they could teach you a thing or too. Don’t worry about the mess! You can of course contain it… But get painting with potatoes, sticking with pasta, making hand prints, baking with breakfast cereal! All the things that seem a no-no as an adult are perfectly normal when you are a little person and will help you free up and let go of your preconceptions.
3. Think outside the box.
This can reach many elements of life and work, but simply think a little deeper about things. You have a friend or relatives birthday coming up, don’t just hop onto Amazon and buy the first thing that looks okay. Think about them, who are they, what do they like, do you have a fond memory. A card is a great place to get practical, it can simply be a heartfelt message. I often laugh at my husband for his lack of card writing skills, placing the most basic, spaced out message in his cards looks so bleak! But if you are feeling creative why not make a card, there are so many bits and pieces you can buy now. And yes this may open the doors to… Scrapbooking!
4. Do something mundane.
Get on a bus, sit on a train or even clean the windows! Doing things that require minimum thought can actually trigger your creative thinking.
Prof Jonathan Schooler from the University of California, Santa Barbara explains: “If you are stumped, take a break. Allow the unconscious processes to take hold. But rather than just sitting there, you might want to take a walk or a shower or do something like gardening.” BBC Science
I know when I used to write comedy, the best place for me to do so was in the bath! I somehow could remember my lines and come up with Whittier jokes when I was submerged in water, now I know why!
5.Don’t be afraid to take risks.
As a creative freelancer, I had to get over quite quickly the taking “risks with my career” . Everything I do comes with an element of risk, from hosting a comedy night, to writing a book when I had never done it before, to presenting for a big craft channel when I had never done it before, to having a baby! What is life without risks? When you improvise you there are actually changes that happen to the front of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, it actually shuts down, which allows us to be more creative. This has been studied in jazz musicians and freestyle rappers when they are free flowing and improvising.
So, do you think you can do it? Take one of these points onboard and you may just may feel a little tingle of that creative Magic!