My creative childhood

My creative childhoodWhen I was very young, I desperately wanted a secret keyper.

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.

Arrow 3

Did you have a creative childhood?
What does creativity mean to your family?



10 thoughts on “My creative childhood

  1. Emily says:

    I love this idea Robyna and am already composing a blog post in my head so I can join in. I have such happy memories of my creative endeavours as a child. It’s only fairly recently that I have realised that creative/craft time is essential for me and I now make time for it to be part of my everyday life. p.s. I used to want to make a secret hiding place inside and old book , it never eventuated though. Emily 🙂

  2. Carly Findlay says:

    I love this post. You made me think of the things I made – puppets, peg dolls, dolls house furniture. I miss those days of free creativity when I did not doubt myself.
    And I recall secret keepers too.

    • Robyna says:

      I think we need to try and recapture that as adults – the freedom to express ourselves creatively without worrying that the outcome won’t be pretty enough to share on instagram.

  3. rachelfaithcox says:

    I remember ‘making’ endlessly! One of my favourite things to make was paper dolls. I wish I had kept some of them… I used to make them entire wardrobes, uniforms, undies(!), ball dresses and nightgowns, sports gear, concert costumes. Such happy memories of hours at the dining room table. Thanks for reminding me, Robyna. We need to get our craft boxes out more often around here!

    • Robyna says:

      Oh, I LOVED those – they were so great. We sometimes bought them and sometimes made them. I had fashion designing aspirations too 🙂

  4. Sew Crafty Deb says:

    I too grew up in a very creative household. My mother was a home economics teacher and an artist and, to me, it seemed like there was nothing my Dad couldn’t make. My brother is a musician and artist. So it was a busy, wonderful childhood home. Creativity was encouraged and applauded and like your family, we would never buy it if we could make it. This post brings back lots of happy memories for me.

  5. Jo Rich says:

    Oh my gosh, how did you know?? This is totally me and my family, both then and now. My mum used to make mini versions of her Laura Ashley dresses for me (it was the 70’s after all) and my Dad still has more wood than he will ever be able to use – just in case. And now, my children are constantly ‘making’ things – usually bits of paper stuck together, models out of anything and everything. I love it!

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