Specifically, I was quite taken with Sheldon, a plastic jewellery box in the shape of a turtle. You could keep all your trinkets in his shell, replete with a lock. If you are of a certain age, you might remember the ad. My parents where not so keen on buying me Sheldon. Undeterred, I set about making my own. A strawberry punnet, an empty toilet roll, some glitter, stickers and a small lock and key (purloined from my tiny diary) were fashioned into something approximating Sheldon. And I loved that thing.
My husband thinks this is a sad story. I think it’s a great reflection of childhood imagination and innovation.
I grew up in a household where if you saw something you wanted the first question was whether you could make it yourself.
My mother is a seamstress and talented designer. She has always made her own clothes. She used to make clothes for my sister and I – complicated, lovely things that I never really appreciated. When our bathroom needed to be renovated, my Dad made the bathroom cabinet and matching mirror. He’d never made one before, but he could see no reason why he couldn’t. It still sits in my parent’s bathroom. He approached making a stained glass window in the same way.
When my year twelve formal came around, there was no question about it – Mum and I would be making my dress. And not just any dress – a replica of a medieval gown. I still have the sketches. I still have the dress – now it comes out at Halloween and delights as a fairy princess. But this talent wasn’t limited to my mum. Many of my friends’ dresses were also sewn by their clever and lovely mothers. Sharing something creative alongside a teenage milestone.
It is only now as an adult that I fully appreciate the value of my parent’s approach to creativity and how it has enriched my life. Both my parents always have projects on the go. When I visit, my Dad will ask my opinion on his latest painting and my mum will show me the outfit she is making. To them, creating is simply a non-negotiable part of life. When I asked them to part of the recent school craft stall, they joined in with gusto.
It is something I have inherited. I too need to have some kind of creative project happening. If I don’t, I get a little twitchy. This blog represents one of those projects. I also love to create things with my hands. There is something incredibly wonderful about fashioning a new thing out of raw materials. Those materials might be words, paint or fabric. I feel like there is something incredibly grounding about being able create beautiful and useful things.
I want to pass this legacy down to my own children. And I already see it – my eldest will often want to fashion toys out of felt together. The Octonauts, Pickachu, Burpee (from Slugterra) and Minecraft characters have all been given the softie treatment. And I love that he is learning that you can make the things you want – you don’t have to buy them.
I am so thankful for the creative legacy my parents have left me – I hope I can keep it going.
Did you have a creative childhood?
What does creativity mean to your family?