My Artists’ Date

I walked through the quietest isle in the entire Walmart in our small town as I pursued a selection of mini fabric bundles and rolls of muslin. My daughter Waliya was home and as strange as it felt, I was not pressed for time. I walked slowly, deliberating prints and complementary patterns. I felt the fabric, not knowing what I was feeling for since my only use for sewing machine in previous years was for hemming extra long abayas to fit my petite height. What I planned to make from striped and dotted cotton in lovely neutral colours, I wasn’t sure, but I simply new I wanted to sew something.

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On the drive home, I remembered my sister Ayesha taking sewing lessons from a local aunty in our neighborhood when we were growing up. She attended the classes begrudgingly but it was a practical activity and my mom loved the idea of her daughters’ learning to sew. I, on the other hand spent far too much time after school worried about projects and club meetings and AP exams, so I never had the privilege of learning to sew at a young age.

Only now in my 30s am I getting to experience the joy of sewing. From mini zip pouches to wall calendars to a DIY dress made out of a pattern I traced on $ store kraft paper, each project gives me a sense of utility I can’t find through other means. Had it not been for a long and soulful winter, I wouldn’t have found myself in the self-help isle at my library reading books by Julia Cameron. I spent most every evening after Maghrib in December, sitting cross-legged on my living room floor atop the red Persian rug my father gifted us, reading and trying to find my interests again. On one of these cold nights, I came across the concept of the “Artists’ Date”.

“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

— Julia Cameron

This idea made me feel instantly in contact with my intuition. I thought about the places my soul feels most happy on a creative level. Our local farmers’ market came to mind, bustling with families, children wearing sunglasses, fresh produce, and an assortment of goodies like beeswax candles from our mennonite communities up north. I thought about my favourite isles at local shops and boutiques, and small towns with hole-in-the wall apothecaries. For me, these places sparked the idea of an “Artists Date”. I hadn’t thought of Walmart at all, but in the thick of winter, I didn’t have as many options, so there I was, picking out fabric bundles that brought me more joy than I can explain as I sewed each zip pouch for my daughter in hopes she’d never lose a hair-tie again (who am I kidding?).

My Artists’ dates have included going to book stores to smell candles I don’t intend on buying but love seeing. There’s something about the lighting and placement of everything at Indigo that makes me smile. I’ve also gone to Bulk Barn on a whim, to randomly sample various spices and blends I’ve never tried before. Turns out, I love caraway seeds on everything, and Nori Furikaki is my favourite topping on fried eggs. I also can’t help but pop into my local marketplace attached to the most Canadian farm I’ve ever seen, just so to smell the baked goods and take in the lovely decor and cookbooks up for display. Doing this simple practice helps me see and experience new ways of expressing creativity, even if I only manage to squeeze them in every now and then. The idea is to go in with the intention to be open and ready to feel inspired.

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