Art Saves Story • by Vicki Welsh
I don’t know why this is true but from my earliest memory I have always made things. My Christmas and birthday wish lists were full of kits and craft items, never dolls or sports equipment. I would make anything but I have always been drawn to fiber, whether fabric, yarn, or other fiber bits. I have sewn garments, knitted, crocheted, embroidered, quilted, altered, dyed, and done just about anything else possible with fabric and fibers.
Until earlier this year, my creative adventures have been my hobby. These first 50 years of my life have been wonderful. I don’t have any great dramatic stories about my life but making things has been a part of every step. But there have been a couple of “aha!” moments where I was reminded of the importance of creativity to my being.
From a Need to a Want
One of my favorite stories, which I believe summarizes my life perfectly, is the story of my graduation sewing machine. My family was not well off and could not afford to send me to college but I knew I had to go and would figure out a way to get there. I desperately wanted to be a part of the corporate world and knew I needed a college degree to get there and I needed a typewriter to take to college. (Yes, a typewriter back then.)
Imagine my shock and horror when my parents gave me a sewing machine for my high school graduation instead. How dare they! I was going to college and then to work in the business world and I would never need to make my own clothes. I was quite dramatic about the whole thing. Of course, you know the outcome of that: I got to college and realized that I was still poor and if I wanted something to wear I had better get the sewing machine out!
In those early years, sewing was about meeting needs and there wasn’t time for much else. The real epiphany came a few years out of college when I was finally making enough money to buy my suits for work. Hallelujah! I did not have to sew. Suddenly, though, I wanted to sew. Sure, I could buy my suits, but I could make even better ones out of beautiful fabrics, and I could make each one as unique as I wanted. That’s when I knew that sewing and creating had to be a part of my everyday existence. I had a very stressful job and I was traveling a lot. My fabric, yarns, and embroidery threads were my therapy.
The Time to Create
Shortly after that I was under treatment for allergies and received overdose treatments of my allergy shots. I became quite ill until we discovered the cause. Unfortunately, the damage was mostly permanent and that was a turning point for my health. Now, almost 25 years later, I am quite restricted in what I can do and what I can eat. Travel is mostly out of the question for me, as is eating in restaurants or visiting friends in their homes. This means my husband, family, and friends take their trips without me.
I suppose this is where art has saved me. When my allergy issues started I found myself with more time to devote to my creative pursuits. Even when I traveled on business, while my coworkers went out after work, I always carried along a travel project to keep myself occupied.
But I don’t think of it as art saving me, I think of it as the gift of being given the time and space to create and to be focused. I do miss a lot of social opportunities but the Internet has offered me many other, and different, ways to connect with people. My friends and I plan specific types of things that we can do together and the rest of the time I create! As a result, the last few years I have been able to save money and explore several creative outlets. Now I am retired from a great 28-year corporate career and on to my second career as a dye artist and I love every minute of it.
One of the Luckiest Girls Around
I consider myself one of the luckiest girls around. I am able to do what I love every single day and I am part of an incredible online community where I have learned much more than I have been able to share. To me, art doesn’t have to be serious and you don’t have to call yourself an artist to create art if you are not yet comfortable with it. Art is fun, it’s an outlet for your brain, an escape for your soul, and I believe it can be as simple as a few minutes a day knitting a scarf or as profound as creating a masterpiece art quilt.
I am grateful to my mom every day for giving me that sewing machine on graduation day so many years ago. Several years later I convinced my husband to give me a new sewing machine instead of an engagement ring and now, 23 years later, I own six different sewing machines. It turns out that moms can see into the future!
To learn more about Vicki Welsh, visit vickiwelsh.com, threecreativestudios.com, or vickiwelsh.etsy.com.