The other day, I stumbled upon an itty bitty shop in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle. The storefront of The Aviary is so diminutive, you might miss it if you blink. It’s attached to a hip and happening store called Blackbird, a very Merry Mishap kind of place. On the sandwich board for The Aviary, it said “A Creativity Shop”, and in I went.
I found a small, but thoughtfully-curated selection of pens, notebooks, art supplies, books and unique paraphernalia to “stimulate right brain activity”. I bee-lined for the notebooks and pens, and eventually found myself gushing about paper thickness and pen brands with the owner. Gushing is probably a bit of an understatement – I was unleashing my obsessiveness and nerdiness for all things stationery-related onto the poor man. He totally got it, though, and asked me if I drew or wrote.
You see, I rarely talk about my journaling habit or this blog. Many of my friends don’t even know these things about me. Even with people who do know, I get all sweaty and weird and stammer-y when the topic comes up, as if I’m trying to hide a substance abuse problem. Which is strange because I love talking about sewing and am pretty okay with the drawing/arty bits. Maybe it’s because I feel like there’s just so much of myself in my writing and this blog space that I kind of seize up with nervousness.
The owner gently began to tell me about why he opened the shop. He talked about how he believes everyone is creative and that kids are the very embodiment of creativity. They seem to have an irrepressible need to just explore ideas and to make things. But often life circumstances or someone’s criticism or a personally perceived sense of artistic failure or even just growing up — any or all of these many things places creativity to the wayside. He wanted to offer a space that wasn’t overwhelming that still had enough variety in wares to spark that interest in drawing/writing/painting/sculpting/playing again. A starter kit, if you will. Or even a re-starter kit.
He talked about a six-year-old girl who bought her first paint set with her own money. About a woman who wandered in reminiscing about how she used to paint and just stopped. About his own attempts at drawing.
For someone like me who’s read a jillion creative self-help books and has tried The Artist’s Way and failed to get past chapter two multiple times, this wasn’t life-altering information. But what struck me about him was that this shop was clearly a passion project and I really liked his small-bites approach. And I felt happy and safe in that shop.
“That’s why I started my blog!” I blurted out. And it’s true. I am exceedingly good at procrastinating and I knew that if I had a blog, I would feel motivated to take baby steps to try all the Pinterest-y things I’ve always wanted to do and get back into the creative groove. Sure, it would only be my mom who would see my brilliant progress from novice to quasi-expert in washi-tape crafts, but she’s been watching me try odd things all my life and it’s part of her job description.
While we’re on the subject of trying odd things, have I ever told you that I was in latch-hooking club in elementary school? For those of you not familiar with the craft also known as rug-hooking, it involves a tool that looks like a seam ripper with a hooked end, and using this tool, you weave or “hook” pieces of yarn onto a webbed, grid-like woven base. It was truly as dorky as it sounds (at least when you’re in the fourth grade), and I have no idea why they offered it because there were three members, tops. Even three members seem remarkable, now that I think about it. But I wanted to learn how to make rugs, and found the process to be relaxing and surprisingly fun. Let me tell you, I could latch-hook like nobody’s business, though my completed projects were hideous. At any rate, I knew early on that I wanted to make things, but all those reasons that the owner mentioned had stopped me. I think The Aviary might be onto something.
The images above show a small collection of my various art supplies: gouache paint, watercolor cakes (in stunning gold, silver, white and black), a tiered rack with acrylics and more gouache. I got the sketchbook from the shop and the paper quality is amazing (purchased pre-analysis of my budget, obviously). I’ll show you what I’ve done with the bug sketches tomorrow!