This is the fourth post in this blog series adapted from our book The Field Guide for Trailblazing Women – it’s about creativity and how women are naturals at it. Hope you find some inspiration here for yourself.
Early prairie life was a hand-made life. With limited resources, prairie women displayed a creativity that went far beyond the practical and the functional. There was always something special in the way pioneering women crafted household necessities.
In the early days of settling the West, prairie women relied on their own skills and resources to keep their families warm during the frigid prairie winter months. Saving bits and scraps of material from clothing and other blankets, and using material from feed sacks, they created heavy quilts for bedding. These ‘patchwork’ quilts were simple and functional, but they were special because of the hours of hand stitching and the effort put into them. As more fabric became available or when they could afford more, prairie women designed beautiful patterned quilts, turning their handicraft into an art form.
In the spirit of helping each other, they held sewing or quilting bees where women from the surrounding community would get together and complete a quilt in a day, rather than weeks or months later. ‘Many hands made light work’ as the saying goes. Because quilting allowed women to sit and relax, it was a relief from the hard labor and physicality of everyday life. And the fine stitching and handwork was always a source of pride, although it was likely never said out loud.
Whether it was embroidering a pillow case, sewing curtains, baking sweets, or preserving tasty jams and jellies, the hands of these women provided hand-crafted love for their families and friends.
Women have always found ways to express beautiful ideas, regardless of the situation or resources available. It’s seems women have a craving to add beauty and meaning to the world through their hands. They’ve always been makers, and even though our industrialized and technical world has reduced the need to produce life’s necessities – women still have the urge to do it – in fact there is a resurgence in the ‘art of making’.
Every woman has her own vein of creativity – it could be expressed through quilting, gardening, sewing, beading, knitting, baking, cooking, glass blowing, scrapbooking, woodworking, building furniture, welding … any number of ways.
Women excel when they create with other women as well. A steady buzz of conversation and laughter speaks to the enjoyment of being in each other’s company. At a soul level, something gets nourished when we are in the company of each other producing or creating with our hands.
The ‘craft of the hands’ is one of many ways women express themselves in the world. Women are natural makers. Our ways of expressing ourselves may change as we take on new projects and experiment with different mediums; however, there is that flow of inner energy happening regardless of how it takes shape. Women need to create!
Creativity is one of the most important attributes we have developed within ourselves – it is both a mindset and a skillset. We feel we are vessels for creativity by allowing unique and different ideas to surface as we expose ourselves to different subjects, new people, places and activities. This helps us see new patterns and connect our current knowledge in new ways. We continually make and do new things – we love working with canvas, leather, paint and paper goods. We use our hands to create; our minds to imagine; our words or voice to inspire. It’s as natural to us as breathing. A hand-made life was central to a pioneer woman’s world and it is a part of our world today as well.
What can you make or create that would bring you a great deal of satisfaction? Drop your ideas into the comments – we would love to hear them!
Live Wholeheartedly. Live Prairie.
– Jan and Erin
Two Prairie Girls