Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Inspiration from Unlikely Places - The Humble Toilet Roll

The humble Toilet Roll. Source of inspiration and medium of creativity. From the main ingredient in a Halloween Mummy costume, to the staple of every junk modelling arsenal. It has inspired thousands of people with it’s versatility for years.

One small cardboard toilet roll inner tube has countless possible futures… plant pot, pen pot - (thank you Blue Peter), bat, dog, crocodile. Kaleidoscope, rain-maker, telescope, binoculars, towers, turrets, hamster adventure playground. The possibilities are endless.

A toilet roll is a lesson - no a masterclass in inspiration and that it can come from the most unexpected places.

You’d think maybe a toilet roll muse would only be for children, parents and childcare professionals. I am a parent but one child is now safely into adulthood, and the other almost there, and I am not a childcare professional. But earlier this year I did find that a toilet roll became my muse.

I was on a retreat on my own. I had meant to be going on a retreat with my awesome critique group but covid had other plans, so I booked a couple of days away on my own to Holland House, to actually get my edits finished. While I was there unhindered by the to-do-list or nagging teens or needy builders I managed to get my edits completed, but I was also touched by inspiration whilst in the bathroom.

You see Holland house is dedicated to being as earth friendly as possible and uses bamboo toilet rolls which are individually wrapped in bamboo patterned paper. One of the patterns struck me as looking like fish scales. So when I unwrapped a new roll I saved the wrapping.

While as was having some down time I was looked at the paper and reached for my my pens, pencils and glue, and doodled a mermammoth. I used the paper as the scales on the tail. I was having fun, so I thought why stop there? Soon I had a notepad full of unimammoths, pegumammoths and other mammoth-mythical creature mash-ups.

These mythical-mammoths sat in my notepad for months until one day I they unexpectedly burst into my brain in a story, which I have now penned and in the process of editing.

I didn’t think much about it until last week while I was away on holiday with several teens that didn’t belong to me (and one that did), when one of them came down poorly and had to stay a day at the apartment. They were feeling down, but are very arty, so I told them this story, and we looked around the apartment until we found something that could inspire them - a french language wild-west comic. They used the illustrations as the basis for many amazing fantastical beasts.

So to bring this full circle, a humble toilet roll gave me the inspiration for a new story, and inspired me to help find the best in a less than ideal situation that in turn inspired another creative. Reminding me that inspiration can come from the most mundane of muses.

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