When I was a little girl I used to make pillows for my Barbie dolls. They were about the size of a match box. I’d sew together two rectangles of scrap material and stuff them with whatever I could get my hands on – tissues and fabric scraps usually.
I also used to make beds for my smaller dolls out of popper boxes. You know the small cardboard juice cartons? I’d cut one of the large sides out of one of those and lay a scrap of fabric inside for a blanket and pop one of my miniature pillows into it.
Then I’d lay out a ‘floor plan’ for my dolls on my bed, using hair ribbons to mark where the walls were. My friend would come down to play from her Nan’s house up the road and we would spend hours upon hours playing with our dolls and home-made furniture on my bed.
The Early Childhood Educator in me looks back now and marvels at what a fabulous open-ended, creative, dramatic, free-play experience that was. This was such a regular occurence for me, playing with that same friend throughout my childhood. Her name was Katrina and she remains one of dearest friends to this day.
We took our dramatic play to the front verandah where we’d drag out all our babies and their stuff. To the park across the road where we’d dance and sing at the entrance of the little youth hall. To the gully near where she lived where we’d play lost sisters. To the back of her Nan’s house where we’d play shop keepers under the tank stand.
It was so much fun. Addictive even. I loved it.
I was in primary school. But you don’t see primary school children play like that anymore. I guess it’s because they don’t have the time? Now days their entertainment is provided for them through digital gadgets and organised school holiday and after school activities and they rarely have to use their imagination to resource their own play. I guess their young lives are rich in other ways but still. I find it very sad.
But getting back to making stuff, I always have loved getting creative and I guess that’s why I enjoy this aspect of my work so much. Making things with my daycare children and helping them to express themselves creatively through dramatic play is absolutely one of my favourite things to do.
Seeing them take a box or paper plate, some glue and whatever else they fancy and doing whatever the heck they want with it makes my heart sing!
Seeing adults complete a child’s art work for them and interfering with the outcome makes me twitch a little bit. Sometimes it is necessary, yes. But when in comes to artistic expression, let them do it their way. It really doesn’t matter what it looks like. If it is an expression of their own unique ideas then it is perfect! That is what art is all about, whether it be craft, painting, sculpture, dancing, writing, music. It is about self-expression. Let them be true to themselves and not have to conform to someone else’s idea of art.
I had a look around my house for things that I have made over my lifetime and sadly much of it is still packed away in the shed since our move, waiting to see the light of day.
But I do have this quilt.
And let me tell you why this quilt is important to me.
I made this not long after Dean and I moved from Brisbane back home to Tamworth about 15 years ago. We moved from the hustle and bustle of the city where we’d lived for 8 years in favour of a quieter life.
For some time after the move I was healing from the strain of a high-pressure, fast-paced work evironment that had taken it’s toll on me and my quality of life. I’d suffered burn-out.
I remember taking a day trip with my Mum to Bingara, a small country town a couple of hours drive from Tamworth where there is an awesome dress shop and some antique shops. Anyway, in one of the shops I saw a coffee mug and hand painted on the side of it were the words ‘Live Simply. Live Well‘. Tears sprung in my eyes and I was taken aback by how much this message resonated with me.
Shortly after that I saw a quilt in a book. I just loved the colours, the images and it’s simplicity. It reminded me of that mug.
Live Simply. Live Well.
I warmed to the quilt right away. I hadn’t sewn in years. It was a part of me that had been swallowed up by the busy lifestyle that I led, commuting to and from the city each day, working on weekends, travelling all over the country for meetings and conferences. But on that day the quilt in the book inspired me to dust off my machine and make one of my own.
This quilt will forever remind me of that cross-road in my life, a change for the better and always makes me feel a sense of coming home.
I still love the idea of sewing and making quilts and maybe one day I’ll get back into it. But for now, I blog! This is my creative outlet now.
Creative expression is so therapeutic and we are all born with it. People who say that they aren’t creative? I don’t buy it. It’s likely that over time they’ve become more wary of judgement and as a result they’ve stifled their creative impulses, thinking their ideas aren’t good enough.
And that’s a travesty.
I think we owe it to our kids to nurture the hell out of their creativity because it can strengthen their resilience and serve as a means of self-expression for the rest of their lives. Don’t you think? It sure has helped me.
Do you enjoy creative projects?
Is creativity disappearing or just being expressed in other ways?
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(Heaven help us!)