Top 5 inspirations of 2013

I decided to share some of my inspirations outside of sewing this year. I’m not sure if any of these will found their way into my sewing but all of them have changed me in some way this year.

1. The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde


This book really changed how I thought about creativity, economy and mythology. It’s hard to imagine a book that can say so much on such broad topics, while still being specific and well-researched, but it does. (The book was so good, in fact, that Orson ate some chunks out of the cover.)

2. Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…”

Photo source:

I’ve been listening to “The Idler Wheel…” non-stop for the entire year (it came out in the spring of 2012). I liked and loved her previous albums but this one is a work of genius (and I don’t say that lightly). Musically and lyrically, it’s sad, funny, bitter and jubilant. Lyrics I didn’t fully grasp from listening will pop into my head at appropriate moments in life.

3. Minimalism

My fabric stash in early 2013

This was my #3 inspiration last year, too, but I mean it in a different way. Last year, stylistic minimalism was on my mind. This year, I started focusing more on de-cluttering, organizing, and focusing on exactly what it is I need to live happily and creatively. Philippa introduced me to some excellent minimalist blogs that I refer to frequently for inspiration. I still tend to attract clutter, and my scrap stash is contained but large, so this will continue to be an area of focus in 2014 for me!

4. Dance

Chouinard Chopin

I’m pretty surprised to find dance on my list of inspirations this year. I danced ballet throughout my childhood and dabbled in modern at college, but could never learn choreography quickly. Nonetheless, I found myself very drawn to dance this year as a spectator. I saw Compagnie Marie Chouinard and Les Ballets Trockaderos live, and watched documentaries (Pina, Ballets Russe, Paris is Burning). I’m probably not going to start up any kind of dance practice, but I’m starting to appreciate the creative language and possibilities of dance.

5. Kiki Smith’s drawings

Kiki Smith Pool of Tears
source: ULAE, Inc.

I had become familiar with Kiki Smith’s sculptural work in college but hadn’t realized how much she worked on paper until I found the book  “Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things” at Powell’s last January. Her work is really visceral, sometimes confrontational, but always compelling to look at. I also learned that she silkscreened her drawings onto fabric and clothing when she was younger.

Back soon with my last Top 5 post: learnings and goals!


29 thoughts on “Top 5 inspirations of 2013

  1. what a fabulous list, I especially can relate to the minimalism and dance, I think living out of boxes and in a place where many things haven’t found a home yet as renovation works are ongoing is one of the things that stresses me most since I moved… and for dance if you ever get a chance to see Mark Morris, go! I have travelled to other continents to see his work, he is sublime!

    1. I’ve only heard of Mark Morris in passing – I’ll make note to see him if he comes through my area! Thanks for the recommendation, and I hope your home renovations wrap up quickly.

    1. Yes! I highly recommend The Gift – I think it would be interesting for you based on what I’ve read on your blog about creative communities you’re interested in.

    1. Me too! She really stuck with me. I was nervous to hear this album after such a long time having passed since I listened to her regularly, but I needn’t have! Let me know what you think if you give the new album a listen.

  2. I really like your list Morgan, with your own interesting and unique perspective showing us an insight into your originality and creativity. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been interested with making my life more minimal too, but still have no idea how to start going about it; I just love sewing and making things so much! Plus I get ridiculously sentimental about old and handmade things, especially made by family and find it really difficult to throw things out… I’d be interested to see how you approach minimalism this year 🙂

    1. Thanks, Carolyn! Balancing minimalism and creativity is interesting – I don’t have the answers (clearly!) but I do notice that if my life is too cluttered, I’ll feel foggy and un-creative. I do feel better when I’m making projects at a steady but thoughtful pace. I always admire the thoughtful detail and design work in your projects! I wonder if some beautiful photo-documentation of old/handmade/sentimental objects might make it easier to part with them if they’re past their usefulness? You could curate your own art book!

  3. You have certainly been one of my inspirations, Morgan. I’ll find myself broadly pondering a topic or behavior change (sustainability or minimalism, for example) and shortly thereafter I will see one of your blog posts in which you have perfectly articulated many similar thoughts, actions, and motivations that only just started to crystalize in my mind.
    Thank you for sharing your creative projects. I look forward to see what 2014 brings for you!

  4. Thanks for sharing your list. I think it’s amazing that you used to dance. It’s one of my favorite art forms. I shall also check out that book. It looks very interesting. I am curious to see how you will translate your inspirations into clothing in 2014.

    1. I should mention that I did not dance very well. I was excited to become more of a dance appreciator this year, however, and it sounds like I’m in good company!

  5. Hi Morgan, I’m Zena. I’ve been lurking for a while and this is my first time commenting 🙂
    I have a dance background too – I did Ukrainian (with ballet exercises) during my formative years. Not sure if belly dance appeals to you at all, but I now do American Tribal Style (ATS), which is group improv using a vocabulary of moves drilled in class. No choreo, but ideally it appears choreographed. Check out Fat Chance Belly Dance on Youtube. (And the costuming!)

    1. Hi Zena! Nice to hear from you. Funny you should mention bellydance – I tried that for awhile with a friend of mine! I loved the movements and my joints just felt amazing when I was taking classes, although I was doing cabaret-style which definitely involved choreography. I didn’t realize tribal was more about improv! Very cool.

  6. The inspirations you share are powerful. That painting stirred all sorts of responses in me! I thought the book looked interesting, too, until I realised oops, I am supposed to be reading/disposing of what I already have, not collecting more! I was congratulating myself the other day for reducing my book collection down to three small shelves. Then I remembered there was still the big pile by my bed 😦 Lots more decluttering for me in 2014!!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your inspirations with me earlier this year! Three small shelves and a pile doesn’t sound like a terrible amount of books, although I do always feel astounded at how little of the stuff I own I really use. Please share your de-cluttering process on your blog in 2014!

  7. I really love the way you’ve listed your non-sewing inspirations – it’s fascinating to see how those influences have informed and shaped what you’ve made. I can really relate to decluttering as a means to living creatively. I gave away about 95% of my fabric stash (a roomful!) about five years ago, and it’s the best creative decision I ever made!

  8. I love the fact that your inspirations list is not really sewing related. That book looks excellent – I have made a note to look for it at my library. Dance is actually one of those things that I totally indulge in as a spectator. There are some pretty amazing dance companies in Toronto and I make a point of going to see performances each season – all that grace is such an inspiration, for sure!

    1. How lucky! Sometimes I think the East Coast gets the best shows, although I don’t know too much about the dance world. I’d love to hear what you think about the book, if you end up getting ahold of it.

  9. Thank you for posting such an interesting list of inspirations – it really has made me reflect deeper on 2013. I really must buy the Gift for my kindle. Happy new year Morgan x

  10. I thought my cat was a weirdo for being a paper eater. I have to hide papers from her! At least she’s not completely alone. ;P

    1. Haha, nope, she’s in bad company. Patterns are actually the worst – does your cat eat those too? Orson gobbles those down really quickly.

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