A bit of midweek inspiration: Winston S. Churchill

Success

After 2 years, I now have over 100 batches of cold process soap under my belt and almost as many batches of melt and pour soap. Most of my batches have been successful but I’ve had my fair share of failed batches.

Sometimes the failures get me down but I try to remember that every failure is a chance to learn and improve my skills and this gives me the motivation to keep going.  I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn with my next 100 batches!

Soap making secrets: Finding inspiration

Soap making secrets: Finding inspirationLately, I’ve been in a creative rut. I’ve been focusing on making fresh batches of my best selling soaps but I haven’t tried anything new in a while. The problem is a lack of focus more than a lack of ideas. There are so many great scents, colors and techniques that I could try but I haven’t been able to settle on one.

Then, a few weeks ago, I took a mid-week trip to the Cleveland Botanical GardenWith 10 acres of outdoor gardens and two glass houses that contain a Madagascar desert environment and a Costa Rican cloud forest (complete with birds, butterflies and leaf cutter ants), this place is my Disneyland.

My group took a guided tour through the gardens and during the tour, a few of the volunteers stole the stage from our tour guide. One sweet lady in particular took the time to explain the histories of how indigo and madder root plants where turned into and used as dyes.

I have both indigo powder and madder root powder in my soap making arsenal so I listened intently to everything she told us. I bought these natural colorants several months ago but haven’t been inspired to use them. Listening to her talk and hearing her passion about the plants surrounding us gave me the spark I needed to get those colorants out and start using them. I now had focus. I would use indigo powder as a natural colorant in my next new batch of soap. From there, the ideas for scents and designs started to flow.

My advice to anyone looking for creative inspiration is simple: Step out of your daily routine and try something new. It’s hard to be inspired when every day feels the same, especially when your day job involves sitting in a grey cubicle jungle. Break your routine, see a new place, talk to someone who’s passionate about what they do and inspiration will find you.

Do you have a special way to find inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

A bit of midweek inspiration: Spring is coming!

Wild violetPretty soon I’ll see the return of these wild violets to my lawn–I can’t wait!

Spring officially arrives on March 20. I’m so happy about this that I’m (almost) willing to strap on a sandwich board proclaiming, “The end is near!”

It’s been a hard winter. Full of cold, snow and the winter blues, I found myself asking, “Why do I live here?” quite often.

It’s an existential crisis I face every year. Then, spring arrives and I find the answer. Seeing the bits of green grass and the tops of daffodils poking out of the ground, smelling the sunshine in the air and experiencing longer hours of daylight gives me the greatest joy. I know it’s said that happiness is a choice, but when the sun is shining and the landscape is waking up from its winter nap, I don’t see how one can choose anything but happy.

So, today I celebrate spring as a source of great inspiration. Lady Bird Johnson gives the perfect explanation why, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

Inspiring places: The Country Living Fair in Columbus Ohio

Country Living Fair Ohio Village Columbus 2014I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of creative inspiration by going out and and seeing what other people are doing. After all, as Kirby Ferguson says, all creative work is a remix of things that have been done before–so embrace the remix!

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you already know that in September I had the chance to go to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t let the name fool you; there is little about “country living” presented here. But, if you like handcrafted home goods, clothing and jewelry, original art, upcycled creations, old junk to repurpose yourself, handcrafted soap and body care products, this is the place for you. (And, if you like the primitive/cute country inspired look, there’s stuff for you, too!) Don’t believe me? Do a search on Pinterest for Country Living Fair and you’ll find a plethora of photos of the wares on display.

Held near the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Ohio Village (a really neat replica of a settlement-era Ohio town run by the Ohio Historical Society worth checking out), this event put together by Country Living magazine has become a fall tradition in Columbus (and has grown to a total of three locations east of the Mississippi: Columbus, Atlanta and Rhinebeck, New York).

My Mom and I spent several hours outdoors in the beautiful fall weather saying “Ooh, look at this!” and “Oh, that’s so cool!” we took home a few treasures and a lot of inspiration (pics below). I’ve got a few projects in mind for the long, dark days of winter…

Country Living Fair Columbus 2014 - Swag and Inspiration

Photos, clockwise (starting top left): Dried natural loofah (vendor unknown); Flying pig pillow, Eric & Christopher; Upcycled Scrabble pendant, The Scrabble Chick; Goat tote, Eric & Christopher

Here are some tips if you plan to attend next year’s Fair:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. You will be walking around a grass and dirt field for many hours. ‘Nough said.
  • Bring lots of patience. Because the Fair has become an established event that a lot of people look forward to, well, there are a lot of people there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Bring your own shopping bags. The vendors will appreciate you and you’ll appreciate having a comfy tote or granny shopping cart to haul your treasures instead of a plastic shopping bag that will dig into your hand or a paper bag that could have a blow out. (Note: If you buy large items, like furniture, they do have a large item pick up near the exit. The vendors arrange for your purchase to be taken there and then you can drive up to it when you leave.)
  • Bring cash. Because most of the vendors are small outfits, you may be able to negotiate a discount for saving them credit card transaction fees.
  • Bring a packed lunch. You will likely be at this event for several hours. You will get hungry and there are few food vendors at this event and even fewer healthy options. The lines for food are long and the healthiest food option had a two-and-a-half hour wait. I was going to skip eating, until I realized I was getting hangry and treating my companion poorly because of it (sorry, Mom!). Luckily, I found a shortish (meaning around a twenty-minute wait) line for a vendor selling overpriced sandwiches and fruit cups.

Now to you: What gets your creative juices flowing? I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration…

The 13 most memorable internet videos of 2013

Since the entire internet is buzzing with “best of the year” lists, Christine and I had a meeting of the minds and decided to present to you The Most Memorable Internet Videos of 2013.*  

We couldn’t agree on the top 13, so we each made our own lists. I’ll start. Enjoy!

The remaining videos on my list were not released in 2013, but I have watched them (some several times), loved them and remembered them. My list, my rules people.

(Warning: If you’re unfamiliar with TED Talks, don’t click on these links until you have hours of time to waste. I get sucked into the vortex of watching more videos than I planned because they’re so darn good.)

Check back Monday to see the 13 videos that made new neural pathways in Christine’s brain…

 

*Christine and I made up this list. Our definition of “memorable” means we actually remember watching these videos in 2013.