Those Christmas decor images have been steeping in my mind ever since Wednesday. I love how other people's vision, talent, and work can inspire and influence us. It pulls us out of our own small thinking and makes us consider what we may not have considered before. It gives us permission. This is what we do for each other when we share our work. It's not about copying. Though, like learning penmanship, copying at first can help train our movement, understanding, and skills. But it's more than that. It's about broadening our scope, following a newly-discovered inclination, and then maybe finding new interpretations of ourselves in our work because of it, producing something of which we may never have had the idea to do before, which, interestingly, may then in turn be just the inspiration for someone else to discover. And on it goes. I love the times when I've been moved by someone else's work, then used that influence in an entirely different way on my own.
One holiday season, the idea of mossy cone topiary kept coming at me. Those little gnomish shapes with their wooden trunks and whimsical cone caps were powerful in their influence. I paid attention. And got to work. The outcome was a giant moss-covered cone topiary, taller than I. It was displayed in a public setting, where lots of people noticed. My phone began to ring. One caller was the visual manager for a privately owned group of home goods stores that can best be described as something of a delightful mash-up of Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma, and antiques. She contracted me to make six giant topiary trees to use as display in their stores, and do other styling and holiday decor for them as well. All because I followed an idea to see where it would lead. Little did I know then, that I would soon be hired by them full time, would work for them for several years, and would consider it one of my favorite jobs of all time.
As I walked through the snowy horse pasture toward the juniper-lined shelter belt the other day, with basket and shears in hand, I was remembering all of this. The good thing is, this inspiration that comes our way doesn't have to end up as a giant topiary. It could be as simple as potting the Christmas tree in a basket instead of using a tree skirt (or, don't be surprised if you unwittingly notice an old galvanized mop bucket with wheels sitting outside an abandoned building, and suddenly think how great potting a Christmas tree in that would be). It could be tying velvet ribbon onto a gift instead of using the plastic ribbon you curl with scissors. It could be using glassine bags for giving Christmas sweets, instead of using ziplocks. It could be that the pom poms you saw on a garland in December, may become the pom poms on something delightfully different on a murky February day.