Inspiration and Originality

 

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Nothing is original.  Every single thing that we make, that I make, has its roots in something else...a picture, a book, a pin on pinterest.  As a designer I take the full breadth of my experience in making and put in into my designs...using them like tools in a toolkit, collected from all of the other designers I have learned from over the years. 

 

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Textile designers can do what they do because they (do I get to say we?) have an ability to think about how something is constructed and then make it. Generally speaking, when designing I stay far away from the internet because I am cautious about "reading" how others made something and getting that idea stuck in my head. In fact, it is much the same for blogging - I tend not to participate in meme's and writting workshops because I struggle to find my own voice amidst other people's words.

Of course, I do make other people's designs and my stance thus far has been quite a simple one: where an item I am selling has elements that have been directly inspired by someone else, I contact them to let them know.  The Herringbone hat and mitts, the Viking hat, the costume wings.  I have had email discussions with all of the designers about how I am using their designs and have had permission to sell. In the case of the Herringbone hat and mitts, a lot of work went into developing and writing the patterns, making the samples and getting to the point of publishing a pattern...but I chickened out at the last minute for putting the patterns for sale as I just felt awkward doing so with someone else's work (even though I had Craig's permission).

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Serendipity is another issue...the owllelly warmers were born out of a gift for a young woman who loves owls.  I had made owl cables before and adapted them along with a ribbing that I thought would  fit a range of leg sizes, as having very, ahem, shapely calves, stretchy ribbing is required.  It wasn't until after I made the first pair and drafted the pattern that I saw there were handwarmers on ravelry with the similar stitch pattern. 

Ultimately, I have to take the perspective that these things happen.  Where possible, I think it is key to be open and honest and hold one's hand up, but the reality is that creativity works in mysterious ways and, we are always going to be inspired by others, be it for new crochet designs, blog posts or dinner ideas. 

And that is where this little work in progress comes in (we are calling him Elmer). He appeared in my studio in the late hours of last night after I'd been dreaming about him for several days.

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We'd been at a friend's house this weekend and Georgia was captivated with their hobby horses. She isn't interested in much other than destruction, so I do tend to jump on any opportunity.  I decided to make one for her birthday in March and wanted to do a tester for another little boy's birthday next week.  Coincidentally, in my daily dig around pinterest, I stumbled upon a range of hobby horse designs. 

And Elmer was born.  He is entirely my own design, crocheted like a sock, complete with ankle ribbing and heel flap, but is very muchinspired by the beautiful ones I saw here.  Of course, I would like to write up the pattern and share the love of his sweet little face and make many, many to send off to homes all over the world, but I hesitate because I want to respect the work of others. It is always a challenge to find balance...

As he is still in the developmental stages, I am comfortable to wait and see what happens as he and his lady love (her name will be Eustice the Unicorn) develop.

 

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I guess I will leave this discussion with a quote from my friend Robyn who commented on a facebook post of mine when I was venting frustration about this issue:

'The artist Eva Zeisel, who says that the folk tradition in which she works is "her home," nevertheless produces ceramics that were recognized by the Museum of Modern Art as masterpieces of contemporary design.

This is what she says about innovation for its own sake:

"This idea to create something is not my aim. To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse. A negative impulse is always frustrating.

"And to be different means 'not like this' and 'not like that.' And the 'not like'--that's why postmodernism, with the prefix of 'post,' couldn't work. No negative impulse can work, can produce any happy creation. Only a positive one."' 

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Ultimately, I have to believe that we are all better for just making...for putting more of ourselves and our visions into the world.

And, of course, Elmer and his lady love will be appearing in their finished forms soon, even if it is just here.

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I am also excited to be Parentdish's Blog of the Week!  If you have come through from there, "Hello and Welcome!!"


 

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