Posts tagged Creativity
Creativity in the Countryside: Wold Couture
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Today we're thrilled to feature a small, creative business that takes its inspiration from the natural world. Jess at Wold Couture designs the most beautiful wedding dresses and accessories, drawing on her local environment to inspire and motivate her creative process. Over to her...

The dress that launched Wold Couture: initially inspired by the dawn chorus, it later came to be known as the Cobweb Dress.

The dress that launched Wold Couture: initially inspired by the dawn chorus, it later came to be known as the Cobweb Dress.

Wold Couture began in essence when I lived and worked in London, but it only truly came into its own when I moved back to the Lincolnshire Wolds - where I spent most of my childhood - and became inspired by the surrounding beauty once more.

Though I designed and made bridal-wear in London, the business itself was launched from one dress inspired by the dew-covered cobwebs I saw as I walked through the Wolds. This dress still features in the bridal collections today, and is, I believe, testament to the power and longevity of natural patterns and design.

Our style overall is quite romantic and incorporates some vintage twists as well as lots of delicate decoration influenced by nature. Both decoration and silhouette are inspired in part by what I find outdoors - flowers, clouds, the shapes of trees - but I find the best ideas come when you’re not looking for them. On a weekend walk to somewhere new, in the bath, whilst travelling – sometimes a design comes fully formed into my mind and I’m not entirely sure how it got there.

Dresses inspired by (left) stratus clouds, (top right) alto-stratus clouds and (bottom right) trailing roses.

Dresses inspired by (left) stratus clouds, (top right) alto-stratus clouds and (bottom right) trailing roses.

The design is just one part though, and what comes next is much more work. To take this idea and turn it into a fully formed and functioning dress certainly takes an alarming amount of coffee, very little sleep and plenty of arguments with the sewing machine. I design and make in my workshop in a sea of fabric and by the time I am done I need another week just to find the floor again. Luckily, the view from my window out onto the fields ensures a constant supply of inspiration, particularly because the view changes not only seasonally, but throughout each day too. Early evening is the most beautiful time to look out, and I can watch the sunset and cloud formations across the vast expanse of the Lincolnshire skyline - it's wonderful!

Currently, I'm working on a few exciting projects. First is a look-book for two of my favourite dresses that I'll send to potential stockists - it's been great fun scouting locations to shoot the dresses, whether in an urban environment to contrast with the design, or out in the countryside near home.

Alongside this we are also finishing up a new accessories range which will soon be available online. As the business is so intertwined with where its located, I think it's so important to keep connected in as many ways as possible. Recently I started tutoring at a local gallery (click here to find out more) - the courses cover everything from upcycling to hand embroidery, and are a great way to chat about ideas, share my passion with fellow creatives, and get more involved in the local community. Finally(!), I'm also studying myself - I'm halfway through a masters degree in fashion with hopes to launch a collection of sustainable ‘slow’ fashion sometime next year.

Wold Couture has always been about bespoke design, but over the next few months we'll be focusing more on the collections, which will enable me to do more of what I love: designing.  If all goes to plan we hope to be employing a small team of seamstresses to work on both bridal and fashion collections in order to maintain our 'Made in England' brand. I can't wait.

Thanks Jess - sustainable 'slow' fashion sounds just up our street!

If your creative business takes inspiration from the natural world, and you'd like to be featured in a similar post on Creative Countryside, get in touch by emailing contact@creativecountryside.com. There is no payment involved; we just like to showcase creative talent whenever we can!

How to Design Your Daily Creative Ritual

Creatives thrive on routine.

Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? Planning something in advance seems to almost negate everything we know about creative surges of inspiration and how they arrive: usually, we perceive, they come from some external stimulus that engages us at random intervals throughout the month, week or day if we’re lucky. While all that might be true, relying on these inspirational surges means you aren’t proactively taking steps to ensure you are finding the time to be creative every day, and as a result time spent on creative acts usually diminishes as you automatically (and understandably) prioritise other areas of your life. But what if you could do both? What if you could find a way to focus on all the must-do tasks and still have time for creativity? That’s where a daily creative ritual comes in.

"To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that's habit-forming. All preferred working states, no matter how eccentric, have one thing in common: when you enter into them, they compel you to get started."

(Twyla Tharp)

What is a ritual?

In the traditional sense, a ritual involves words, signs and actions characteristic of a specific ceremony. It is, then, a celebratory act, and it is this notion of honouring something of importance that you should bring to whatever creative ritual you observe.

Why should it be daily?

Ritual also implies regularity; something that you choose to carry out at set intervals. If contemplating the idea of fitting a daily creative ritual into your life seems overwhelming, then start with only certain days, or maybe even just once a week. There are no hard and fast rules here, though I have found that if you develop a daily ritual it will evolve into a habit much quicker than something more sporadic. Today’s post suggests ideas for what to include in your ritual, when to schedule it into your day and how to turn it into a habit.

What should be included?

This is where the fun begins, because creative rituals are all about you. There isn’t just one ritual that everyone should follow; creativity is, in its essence, a personal act in which character, values, your environment and those residing in it all combine to produce something unique. If you’re anything like me, though, something like the following could work for you.

My Daily Creative Ritual

  • 6am. I like to start early.
  • A cup of rosehip tea sipped slowly outside.
  • Deep breaths to take in the morning air and scents of the seasons. I listen carefully for the sounds all around me and really try to place myself in that moment.
  • Read something inspirational. This could be a blog post, a quotation or an extract from a favourite book. Sometimes I might even listen to something instead, like a podcast for example. It just needs to be something to get my brain in gear.
  • Write something. This could be as simple as a thought in my journal, or a response to a writing prompt. It could be a list of spiralled thoughts, ideas and inspiration for the day ahead. Often it isn’t particularly long, or noteworthy, but it’s a chance for me to get everything down on paper that I can come back to later if necessary.

For some of you, this might seem achievable, and I’m looking at those of you that don’t dread or snooze your morning alarms. Your creative ritual doesn’t have to be this early though. You might find that just before bed works better for you so that you can clear your thoughts to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Or you might feel at your most productive just after lunch and find that this is the easiest time to steal a few minutes for yourself from your day. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter when your creative ritual occurs, it just matters that it exists.

In terms of specifics to include, I would recommend starting your ritual with a few moments of reflection. This could be a meditation exercise or you could choose to simply focus on your breathing (there are a few tips for this in the bonus resource at the end of the post). If you’re going to get creative then you need to switch off all the external distractions that can normally prevent you from focusing, and for me mindful breathing is the easiest way to achieve this.

Follow this with something inspirational. It’s no coincidence that creatives usually love to read, listen, and take in as much knowledge as they possibly can: it is provocation for our own creative acts. Again, this will work differently for everyone, but finding a blog that always leaves you wanting more, or a book that you keep returning to, is often a good indication of where you’ll find your muse.

It’s at this point (quite far down in our creative ritual!) that you’ll actually get to creating something. You could choose to use this time for bouncing ideas around for new projects, or writing those words you’ve been struggling with. Alternatively, it could provide you with an introduce to a whole chunk of creative time that you’ve set aside but that you know can be difficult to actually get going with. If you’re a crafter or illustrator you could work on a new design, if you’re a writer plan out a new post or chapter of your book, or if you’re a photographer you could edit some images: I find that by following the initial steps of the creative ritual I can achieve pretty much anything I set my mind to, so make sure you use this time wisely.

How long should my ritual be?

It’s also important to remember that your ritual can be as long or as short as you like. I don't have a great deal of time in the mornings, so from start to finish my ritual can be completed in as little as half an hour. Of course, if I find myself with more time I try to elongate the final section of the ritual so that I can create for longer, but I find that if I skip any of the preceding steps then creativity is not forthcoming.

The Practice of Creativity
       

 

 

 

For creatives, honing your craft is of cardinal importance. This can exist in many forms, and the day, place, medium and amount of time you spend thinking creatively don't ever really matter; often it's enough to simply start something. Yet one of the hurdles that we frequently have to overcome is finding the time to carve out a few minutes, or even a few hours, in which to work on improving those skills. Today I'm going to share with you a few ways you can do just that.

1. Use daily prompts For me, the daily habit of using prompts is one of the most successful ways to enhance my own writing. On occasion I will use these prompts to inspire another creative outlet - I might focus on photography if I feel so inspired, for example - but invariably it is the act of putting pen to paper that utilises these ideas. And when I say pen to paper, I'm not using a euphemism for keyboard and screen; to produce my best work it is imperative that my hand starts to ache after the first five minutes, that what I'm writing in is my favourite new piece of stationery, and that I'm not constantly distracted by the chaos of technology.

2. Keep a journal This is a habit I am currently trying to focus on. Contrary to what many might believe, journalling isn't just about writing about what's happened that day and documenting any key moments, it's much more than those limiting boundaries suggest. Snippets from magazines, quotations you love, drawings that encompass your mood at that precise moment; journalling can provide the medium for all of these and more. What creatives are so good at is expressing an emotion or juncture in time, and journalling provides an opportunity to amalgamate all of your creative inspirations onto one page. What's not to love?

3. Blog Not particularly surprising, I suppose, so I won't say too much on this matter. What blogging has taught me, though, is that if you try to write as someone you're not, you will never sustain it. Stick true to your style and the rest will follow.

4. Turn it into a habit If there's one sure fire way to ensure I follow through on a goal, it's to turn it into a habit. Simply adding it to my never-ending to-do list means I can easily prioritise something other over the practice of creativity, and it will slide down my daily agenda to sit with other menial tasks. However, setting aside a precise time means that I have created that opportunity before I can come up with something else to trump it. My time is early, usually 6.30am after I've finished getting ready for work. With a cup of rosehip tea, I wander into the morning light capturing photographs of the world awakening. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I just sit and think. By 6.50am the rest of the house stirs and that moment flits from time, but I've had my time, and the day moves on.

How do you find the time to be creative? Do you have any other tips?