Ever wonder what inspires creative people?  Well, I , too, used to wonder just where in the heck all of those crazy ideas come from that rob me of my sleep and oftentimes keep me stymied from starting my next project.  After all, my mother was a chemist, my father a doctor.  They had no interest in aesthetics other than classical music.  My mother did not keep house, or rather, she tried early on, but the junk accumulated by four kids and a husband in a two bedroom house killed whatever interest she had.  That was after we moved from a trailer parked behind my father’s thirteen-bed hospital to the family home place before I started Kindergarten.  She bought a beautiful, long, low, floral sofa, funky ’60s chairs covered with gold sateens and velveteen, and had custom silk window treatments fashioned for the windows.  I remember when it was styled.  That must’ve lasted a couple of weeks!

I truly believe the most meaningful inspiration from those years came from the outbuildings, sheds, and barn behind the house.  In them we explored, imagined, and made up games to play.  I swept the fallen seeds from burlap bags in the seed shed, bitten open by mice that our many cats obviously didn’t hunt very well.  I wanted to tidy it up because this shed had windows, and it seemed to be the perfect hideaway for a young girl needing space.  Then there was the wash house that had a shower drain in the floor and a real shower head.  Once we decided to create a club called the Secret Seven (though I don’t recall there being seven of us to do it).  We walked downtown to the hardware store, bought a can of red paint, and proceeded to paint two walls red before becoming bored and moving on to the next adventure.  I never stopped imagining the possibilities for these quaint buildings.  I still have a penchant for sheds to this day.

I also designed Barbie houses and furniture on the ledges of the basement of the house, the only areas not covered with toys.  I used masking tape to delineate the rooms and doors much like a blueprint.  I turned paper cups upside down for barstools, fashioned beds out of shoe boxes and fabrics, and taped pictures of accessories that I clipped from the Sears catalog to the cinder block outer wall.

I believe I was around 9 or 10 when I imagined designing the perfect Barbie house using stacked cubes.  I didn’t see my design come to fruition until I opened a Pottery Barn Kids catalog and someone had built it a few years ago.  This was one of the first times I recognized that I if I didn’t act fast enough someone somewhere would beat me to the punch.

Once when I was scanning old family slides and prints from my aunt’s collection, I learned something amazing.  My first cousin, Susanne, asked me to look for her mother’s images of their kitchen from the late ’50s.  I found them and was flabbergasted.  Here was my aunt (Mama Reeves) holding Susanne in a kitchen that could’ve come right out of a magazine.  Her table was set with a collection of Fiestaware, the centerpiece something she fashioned herself out of common recycled items.  Her kitchen was white and styled beautifully.  Susanne then told me that her mother always kept magazines and clipped ideas for all of the things she continually wanted to craft and redo around her house.  I finally got it!  This explained all of the magazines and clippings I, myself, had amassed back to my childhood.  Her sewing, crafting, decorating, redoing–all inspired me as a child, and I didn’t even realize it!

Then there was Susanne.  She constantly had me crafting with ideas from who knows where.  She was connected and AWARE; she was a teenager.  We decoupaged, tole painted, macremeed, sewed purses.  Then there were the pet rocks, the sand art, the turds (decoupage on pieces of driftwood), tie-dye shirts, beaded headbands, and mobiles.

Maybe the genetics didn’t pass down directly, but if there is a gene for creativity, then I have the same one that my aunt and Susanne have.  Mama Reeves is 92 and still designing baby quilts for charity.  She, like Susanne and I, can’t dream of being idle and not creating something.  We are never bored.  Mystery solved.

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