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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creativity from Antiquity

I love to go to flea markets, thrift stores, auctions and antique shops.  Sometimes when I am in a "down" time from my creative flow, I make a trip to one or more of these types of shops to add a bit of a boost to my creative energy.  When I am in an antique shop, there are many times when I find myself completely mystified by the objects in front of me.  Their usefulness has either gone out of vogue or more often than not, completely become obsolete.  Who actually needs a shoe button hole hook after all in this day of laces and Velcro stays?  There are tools and farm implements, kitchen utensils and home improvement tools that once were considered the very best in new technology.  Now, they adorn walls of restaurants and people's homes as country style decor.  I sometimes wonder if these ancient tools led to the invention of newer tools....

Antique shoe hook (looks a little like a modern latch hook for
making latch hook rugs)

I like to imagine what life was like both before and after the implements were invented.  How exactly did people close the buttons on shoes before the button hook came around?  and what sort of method was used long before the food processor or food choppers or even blenders were around for making melanges of fruits or vegetables, much less a smoothie?  did they have any concept of the smoothie or would that have been one of those anachronistic items?

Kitchen utensils.  Being myself almost an antique,
 I recognize most of these tools.
Do you?

It seems like in the art world, the tools and implements really have not continued to evolve--though perhaps the advent of acrylic/synthetic brushes shows that they do continue to move forward.  The painter still uses canvas or paper (albeit, many buy them pre-stretched and ready to go instead of creating the frames and stretching the canvas themselves) and paints with pigment and brushes with water or linseed oil and rags. The stained glass artist's tools have evolved to the point of electric soldering irons and sticky back copper foil, fluxes that are far more clean and efficient and solders that are cleaner and more pure than ever before.

Farm tools. Huh?

For all of our advancements, we are still attracted to the antiquities and for myself, a part of my admiration of a true Lewis Comfort Tiffany stained glass panel is exactly a result of the challenges that had to be faced to create such astonishingly beautiful pieces.  From the masterwork paintings, I admire not only the painting itself and the techniques used to create the art, but the  lost or dying skills of not just mixing pigments but identifying and crushing them correctly for paints, among other difficulties in obtaining the tools of the art.

I actually own a Kerosene torch like this (two in fact), that I got at an auction
...but not with the soldering iron attachment.
That part I will have to invest in next time I see one. I imagine
stained glass would take a very different look from this.

I'm not sure why, I'm not sure how exactly but I do know that for me, a visit to an antique shop rejuvenates me for getting back to my creative work. Perhaps there is an alchemy that occurs in accessing the curious objects of the past and activating the curiosity of the mind in thinking about how things were made and created.  Perhaps there is a bit of magical allure and some of the creative genius that rubs off when one handles antique objects so that that magnificent creative force can be harnessed to the new-fangled methods, techniques and tools of the modern artists' studio.

So here is the challenge of this day:  visit an antique shop.  Question what things are, what they were used to do, how they were manufactured and be in awe and fascination with the creativity of our forebears.  For the day, let go of the modern and the new.  Let your mind play with ideas and ponder the uses of unknown tools.