A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman who owns a shop in South Philadelphia. I've sold things there occasionally, and she's the organizer of some of my favorite craft shows. She had someone looking for custom work.
The customer had written and self-published a picture book for her soon-to-be grandson, based in part on a small stuffed monkey she had purchased. She wanted someone to make the monkey's parents - who were, obviously, a bear (mom) and a beaver (dad). Because storybook.
I met her at a coffee shop near my office. She brought the book and the monkey toy. I looked through the book, took photos of a few illustrations to get color ideas, and we shook on it.
These aren't the same as my usual animals, and they're probably never to be duplicated, because I didn't enjoy the process of making them that much, but I did enjoy the end result.
I brought the monkey home with me (because he needed shorts), and I spent a day or two fiddling around with ideas and making drawings. But every time I looked at my fabric stash, I drew a blank.
There was no rush - she asked for them within 30 days because she was going to visit her daughter then - so I knew I had some time to puzzle it out.
Then, on a Thursday, about a week before they were due, when I was still looking at a monkey with no shorts, and some dark brown cashmere blend sweater fabric, I gave up and took a walk. It had been hot out for the better part of 10 days, and this was the first middling-hot day and I needed out.
I started walking west from the house, toward Clifton Heights. We've driven up that way but I don't know the area at all yet, so I thought I would just walk for a while and see what there was to be seen.
Soon I encountered a sign that said "Swedish Cabin," which turned out to be (possibly) the oldest building in Pennsylvania, built in the 1600s as a trading post. It was about a 1.5 mile walk from my house, but I got to sit on a rock and soak my feet in the icy-cold Darby Creek for a half hour, and then I walked home again.
When I went upstairs to my workroom, all of a sudden the project made sense. I started cutting up the fabric, and by the time Mario got home from work, I had completed the beaver (complete with suede tail), his turquoise suit, and was about half done the bear.
Sometimes you just need to get away from a project and get some fresh air and exercise, and everything falls into place.