What Inspires You?

Happy October ya’ll!!! I’ve been busy working around the house and the garden…getting ready for fall. I know I’m not alone when I say that I truly love this time of year. The colors, smells and flavors of the season are simply awesome….and inspiring.

So what inspires you? I thought I’d share with you some of the things that bring me endless inspiration in my home life and professional life as a designer and artist.

1. Anything Stickley

It wasn’t until I lived in a historic neighborhood with streets lined with American bungalows from the early 1900’s – 1920’s that I really began to learn about the Arts and Crafts movement. Wow…there is sooooo much to learn too. From textiles, jewelry, posters, ceramics, glass and furniture…this era has a lot to offer an admirer. For anyone just learning about Arts & Crafts, my advice is to start with Gustav Stickley (1858-1942).

Stickely was a craftsman who promoted a simple lifestyle, focused on a connection with the environment. He wanted American households to reject the overly ornate machine made furniture of the Victorian era and return to a finer sense of craftsmanship. I love his work for the quality, the rich patina of the oak furniture and the simplicity and cleanliness of this design. More about Stickley and his family here.

2. Farmhouses

When I was a young girl, I went to visit a friend who grew up on a small farm. Her mother was an artist and her father was a contractor. They lived in Pennsylvania, in a home that was built in the late 1800’s…that had a barn, a large garden and lots of small farm animals that freely roamed their property. I fell in love instantly. I remember the large plank wooden flooring, the glass cupboards in the kitchen and waking up to a rooster. Something about that early experience has stuck with me and my love for the American farmhouse has only grown.

3. Rusty, Old Junk

I spent the first 10 years of my life living in North Carolina and as I have mentioned before, I spent a lot of that time at the Raleigh State Fair Grounds attending the flea market on the weekends. I can remember seeing a lot of rusty, old junk. The muted colors and peeling textures of these old relics are something that I now associate with the south. And now as an adult, I find that I use these colors and textures in a lot of the things that I create or design.

4. American Folk Art

I was 8 years old when I learned to cross stitch at school. Yes, that’s right. Not at home (though my mom did a lot of cross stitch then), but at my elementary school. As I got older, I learned to sew other things by hand and then learned how to knit. Fiber arts have always been something that I’ve been drawn to. After a long day at the computer, one of my favorite things in the world is to make a hot cup of english tea, watch an old movie and work on some sort of craft project. This slower paced activity teaches me about patience in a world that is filled with instant gratification. There’s also something very organic about the creative process with crafts that I love. Not all projects turn out as planned. Often times, the material that you are working with can dictate how a piece is completed. So, I guess I enjoy the journey and freedom of creating something that may have a quirky result.

When I look at folk art, I like to imagine the kind of person that made that object. What were they like? Where did they live? What inspired them to create that particular thing? It’s not just the aesthetic beauty that I admire with these objects…it’s the story that goes with them.

5. Primitive Furniture

This category goes hand-in-hand with my interest in farmhouses. I guess I have a deep appreciation for most hand-crafted objects. I find it fascinating to learn about the materials that were used to create furniture, based on what region it was made. What factors influenced it’s design? For example, I love that the punched tins in pie safes were created for ventilation for the food that was kept inside. Some of the punched tin is plain and some are almost like beautiful works of art with intricate designs and patterns. Also, older homes were not created like modern homes with a closet in every room or cabinets in the kitchen. Large cupboards were created to accommodate dish ware, blankets and dry goods.

6. The American West

I’ve been living in Richmond, Va for 16 years now (wow…time flies!!!) and I have learned sooooo much about the Civil War, since this was, after all…the capital of the confederacy. What I didn’t know a lot about was the western expansion in our great country after 1865. A few years ago, I took my first trip out to the north west and visited Washington, Idaho and Montana. I was completely transformed and moved by the colors and history of the landscape. And after receiving my first pair of cow girl boots a few years ago, I’m hooked. Some of my more recent treasures have included a Zuni turquoise bracelet and antique mounted antlers. Now, I just need to find an excuse to visit Arizona or Texas…

So what inspires YOU? Tell me about your collection? I’m looking for folks to share their favorite finds in an upcoming post…so tell me…do you have a favorite quilt that was given to you by grandma? Or a fabulous vintage lunch box that you found at a flea market? If so, contact me!

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “What Inspires You?

  1. One thing to remember about folk art … is that it is happening right this minute, on countless kitchen tables, garage floors, back porches … anywhere energetic people go to find highly individual answers to life’s burning questions such as: what can I do with these bottle caps? I love to go to craft shows and see (and, yes, buy) those “answer pieces.” Erin, watch for an email from me with an attached photo of one man’s answer to the bottle cap dilemma. Hugs from Reets!

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