What My Mother Taught Me About Creativity

MAY 8, 2016
 
For many of us, it was our mothers (or a mother-like figure) who were the first ones to nurture our creativity. Whether it was the act of buying us our first 64 pack of Crayolas, teaching us to sew, or simply encouraging us to color outside the lines, metaphorically or otherwise. Spoonflower employees took the time to share a few words about how their mothers have instilled an artistic spirit in them over the years. Warning: extremely warm fuzzies may occur.
 
 
What has my mom, Dottie, taught me about creativity over the years? Everything. As soon as I could hold a crayon she encouraged me to draw, even if that meant all over the walls. I grew up surrounded by her beautiful quilts, and as soon as I was old enough she taught me how to sew just like her. I honestly don't remember the first time I sewed, I was so young. But, I remember my mom helping me sew little quilts for my dolls' beds, star and moon pillows to match the theme of my bedroom, and eventually she helped me sew quilts for college because I was ambitious and wanted a different quilt for my dorm room every year. My mom has also taught me that's it's perfectly okay to be a Trekkie, just like her, and that is a special form of creativity in itself. Because of my mom, I have a solid foundation of sewing skills to guide me through any craft adventure I embark on. I am truly grateful for the skills and talent she passed on to me and I hope to pass them on to my child someday!"
 
-Robin, Senior Graphic Designer


 
 
My sweet Mom taught me about creativity by sharing her own. She has a brand of love and creativity that just seeps into every aspect of her life. When I go home, I can look up at the mural on the ceiling of my childhood bedroom that she painted by hand. Growing up was full of birthday parties with hand drawn paper dolls and curated dress-up trunks. She recently took a painting class twice a week after full days of work just to pursue a passion. Whether it is food, home, gifts, or ideas, there is no one I go to for ideas and inspiration before my mom. 
 
Above is a picture of her, shining next to me at my senior design show in school. Her generosity and support has cultivated a lifetime of creativity for me.
 
-Alexandra, Operations Staff Member


 
 
One phrase that will always stick with me that my mom said when I was growing up ( and still says today) is "Hunger is the best sauce." While she's given me great advice over the years about academics, career choices and other major life events, this momism is one that will always stick! I've found myself sharing this quote on a regular basis, and every time I say it, I envision my mom repeating it as her three kids eagerly ask when dinner will be ready. My creativity in the kitchen and her quirky sayings have inspired me along the years to grow my love of hosting, event planning and good ol' home cooking!
 
– Meredith, Customer Service Advocate and Greenhouse Coordinator


 
My mother dropped out of Cooper Union to have me at the age of 19- she had a scholarship to study sculpting but swears that I was worth the sacrifice. She became a single mother of two children by the time she was 25 and as soon as we moved into our tiny little railroad apartment, she set up an easel in the corner of her living room/bedroom where I would see paintings evolve from day to day. On the other side of the room she had a sewing machine set up where she would create costumes for us come Halloween and sew some of our clothes. At night she would sometimes play her guitar while she sang to us and her sweet voice and sad folk songs would make my tough little brother cry. On weekends we would visit the Met and walk through the galleries with an uncharacteristically quiet respect. She enrolled me in flamenco and ballet dance classes when I was five years old at a little studio down the street from where we lived. We went without on so many levels, but my mother brought culture and the arts into our family regardless of our limitations. I went on to major in dance and theater in college and there was never any mention of whether or not it was a sustainable choice. I work so hard to bring creativity to my own children's lives, but I admit that it is far more accessible for us than it was for my mother.  

 
PS- I am pretty sure that the top she is wearing in the photo is something she sewed.
 
-Kara, Customer Service Advocate

 
"Be yourself.  Read.  Look at everything.  Never stop exploring."
 
-Kimmi, 2nd Shift Printer & Team Leader


My Mom has spent her life as an artist and is a successful landscape painter her work is currently featured in Pennsylvania art galleries. Her kids were lucky to have her as an example of creativity in motion! 

Sending her children to the shoreline at the beach to "find all the round polished stones in different colors" so we could create stone mosaics, to water color and oil painting and drawing, color, perspective, how to sew clothes and embroider, whatever we needed we fearlessly made it! I wish my mother the very best mother's day she gave me her most precious gift of a creative spirit!

-Barbara, Operations Staff Member


My mom makes beautiful watercolor paintings. Her skill is one that I sadly did not inherit. But by simply being around her, observing her magic, I was able to find beauty in the smallest details and harness creativity in the everyday, even from a small age. Creativity in play, in homework, in housework, in family traditions, school projects, story time, in critical thinking, in home decor, in managing relationships… she taught me that nothing is unworthy of a dose of creative thinking. And that your brain just feels better when you take the time to be creative. Now, as a mother of two, I'm trying to instill the same wonder of the world and delight in the everyday in my own kids. 

-Lauren Powell, Director of Product Development


My childhood consisted of many creative memories with my mother. She always made every moment for my sisters and I just as special and magical as the last one. My Mother is extremely witty, fun-loving and a very talented artist. When I was younger, she would hand draw a cartoon and joke on my paper napkin to put in my lunch every day. She did that for all three of my sisters and that was definitely the highlight of our day at school. During the holidays, my Mother was at her creative peak showing us girls how to hand cut paper snowflakes and tape them in the windows. For Christmas, she would sew ornaments using the backs of old Christmas cards sandwiched with our photos with Santa. And every couple of years, she would hand paint bread dough ornaments that she made in the oven depicting every family member in full detail including my favorite stuffed animal. My Mother has a creative touch in the kitchen too. She has amazing senses and understands flavor on a whole different level, which makes her family dishes better than any restaurant! Presentation is important to her and she taught me how meaningful and unique the small things can be when celebrating life. When my Dad came home from a business trip, my sisters and I helped my mother shape "Welcome Home" in Rice Krispies treats for when he arrived. On Summer days, my mother was sewing adorable dresses for us girls, and hats, pillows, bedspreads, curtains, etc. just to make sure we had coordinating colors and style all around us. She even knitted coordinating outfits for our Barbie dolls! To this day, my mother still invokes that creative spirit especially whenever my family is together from crazy dance skits to Harry Potter themed dinner parties. She even has a unique perspective on music and has the most creative playlists you'll ever hear.  I am so lucky to have a mother who has always encouraged me to love the arts and express myself creatively in everything I do. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

-Lindy, Managing Supervisor of Print Operations


 
My mom, Kazuko, is a creative wonder!  She has led by example that creativity is not limited to just making crafts, it's a lifestyle and the way we use our brains.  Creatively can be applied to making your clothing, to starting a business, and to cooking healthy meals for a family of 5 on a shoestring budget.
  My mom moved to the United States from Tokyo, Japan in her late 20s after attending a trade school in Helsinki, Finland for weaving.  She went to creative communities; like Haystacks, MI, Penland, NC and Arcosanti, AZ; to practice her weaving and live as an artist.  I've been listening to stories about these creative havens my whole life, making it seem like being an artist is something to aspire toward and grow from.  
Mom also stressed the points of being an individual in my personal style and taking pride in what made me different from others.  She told me that in art school (college), making your own clothing is cool!  She taught me how to sew on her Featherweight Singer Sewing machine when I was in 3rd grade, and started training me about textiles and how to source high quality materials at yard sales and thrift stores.  I quickly started altering all my clothing and going to the thrift store with my mom to pick up fabric.  By the time I was 19 year old, I was so fond of remaking clothing and doing projects for my friends that I started my own business which quickly became my supplemental income through out college and my full time job post college and has led me to work in textiles as a life long passion.
 
-River, Printer Operator and Recycling Coordinator


 
 
My mom has always taught me to embrace my creativity, and she leads by example!I am so lucky to come from a family full of artists, designers and craftsmen and some of those creative juices have definitely rubbed off. My mom has taught me to sew, make jewelry, paint and craft in every way possible. The biggest lesson I've learned from my mom, specifically, is that creativity is a gift. It is a gift – as in a talent which should be fully embraced! It is also a talent that can quite literally create some of the most meaningful gifts possible with a little thought and elbow grease. I absolutely love giving! Birthdays, Christmas, any given holilday, my mom has taught me not to show up without a pile of handmade treasures! While shopping for others is fun, there is nothing better than the reaction I get after saying "I made it!" People truly appreciate your time and effort and that is something I will always remember. This year, in fact, my mom is getting a handmade bracelet for mothers day
 
-Sara Englehart, Product Development Associate
 
 
Where did I learn to create a delicious meal for two out of [insert a disparate mix of 5 non-perishable and/or expired food items sitting in my pantry plus 2 standard condiments from the fridge door] in under 30 minutes? My mom taught me to work with what I've got. To do the *best* with what I've got. To birth explosions of creativity with constrained conditions and unreasonable limitations. All I know is that it certainly comes in handy when I'm hungry, and for that, I can't thank her enough.
 
-Jenny Schnaak, Senior Media & Content Associate
 
 
My MommaBear was the person who brought sewing into my life. Growing up she made her own clothes and was always excited to help my sister and I on whatever weird little projects came into our brains. She showed me all of the sewing basics, helped us make Halloween costumes, helped me make my first projects using patterns (and usually finished them for me when baby Paula got bored or frustrated), and has always been incredibly supportive of whatever creative endeavor or seemingly impossible sewing project I pick up next. Her most important sewing tip: Don't sew through your finger.

Not to mention she's had to put up with my photobombing longer than anyone else! Love ya momma! 
 
-Paula (Managing Supervisor of Operations) 
 
 
Every ounce of creativity in me comes from my mother. She always encouraged my wacky, creative impulses growing up, and that meant letting me go to school everyday with sharpie colored into my hair and magic marker illustrations all over my jeans. She taught me that art didn't have to be a project you do for school once a week, but actually a way to live life. Through my mother's eyes, I learned to see beauty in everyday objects. The most memorable example is when I worked at a coffee shop as a teenager, and she showed me how the beautifully colored coffee bags could be taken apart, lined with fabric and made into purses. We used to collect the empty bags and sew them up to be sold at school to all my classmates (she taught me some valuable lessons about capitalism as well!). Mom always encouraged me to take something plain and improve it, putting my own "stamp" on everything I wore or created. For my high school prom, together we attached interfacing to the back of a New York Times issue and sewed it into my gown so that I could achieve "my vision."  One of 8 kids, she sewed all of her own clothes growing up–from bathing suits to winter coats, and she taught me (despite my impatient rolling eyes at times) how to sew on her Kenmore machine which I now own today. She always made sure I had the artistic opportunities she was never afforded growing up, putting me in endless art camps and helping me prepare portfolios of my work. I only hope to pass on half of the lessons she taught me someday to a daughter of my own. Thank you for everything, mom!
 
-Theresa, Sr. Marketing Associate, Social Media + Content

 
What has your mother taught you about creativity? Share with us in the comments! 
 

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  • Great stories – I love how different they all are, and it’s so nice to see real-life examples of creative people, people who aren’t “perfect in every way” by media standards. It makes me appreciate my family and my mom more as your stories reminded me of our own funny stories of creativity – thank you!
    My mom was always letting us do crafts – anything and everything from singeing patterns into leaves on the barbecue grill to blowing watercolor drops around paper plates with straws (once I passed out from too much enthusiastic blowing!!) She let us experiment and gave us permission to fail – which is the only way to learn new ways of doing things – and taught us that failure wasn’t the end of the process – there was always something else to try. She wrote and illustrated (with stick figures) tiny books for us about our lives – such as “The girl who wanted oatmeal for breakfast every morning”. Nothing had to be perfect or polished, and that gave us incredible freedom to experiment.