On Finding Inspiration in Nature
Look at the miwak pipe in the photo above...did it take you a second to realize that Sebastian formed this guy out of sand?! Yeah, me too.
"Miwak Junior's [...] pebble-shaped ceramics really look like stones" –The Broccoli Report
"Get a little earthier with these pipes" –Refinery29
Our smokeware has long been described in comparison to natural forms and textures, and it's no coincidence; at Miwak Junior, our artistic process has always been firmly rooted in the experience of the wilderness and the wisdom of mother nature's designs.
What could be simpler and more rejuvenating than getting outside to reboot your creative flow? And we're not just talking about sculptors, painters, and photographers - anyone seeking a shift in perspective can benefit from mindful time spent outdoors. Throw in a smoke session for some extra neuron-rewiring and now you're really speaking our language...
Here are some of our favorite ways to get out and into it:
We've always been beachy folks - from Sebastian's surfing the coasts of Chile and California to Alice's growing up in the Florida panhandle - and our move to St. Augustine this spring hasn't changed that a bit. Now more than ever, we're able to indulge in seaside explorations. Beach combing isn't just for retirees! We make it a habit to slow down and investigate the minutia offered up at the shoreline.
Let your instincts guide you, and allow yourself to be open to a child-like sense of playfulness. Make something out of nothing! Build a mini-shrine. Make an old-timey man with a cigar and coconut shell toupee (see below). The possibilities are endless.
Pro tip: bring a hat and backpack, as Alice demos below.
Like beach combing, nature walks might seem obvious (I know how to do that!), but it can be helpful to consciously reframe the experience, differentiating it from the usual "getting your steps in" or an exercise-focused hike.
Try looking for pattens and shapes that spark your interest. Consider bringing a notebook or sketchbook and leaving your phone at home. Make a rubbing from tree bark. Smash berries into your paper and appreciate their rich hues. Sit still, wait, and try to count ten different animals and insects. How can your walk continue to serve you for the rest of your day, or week? Try taking a specific scent-memory with you, and attempt to recall it a few days later. Try choosing a tree, give it a name, and come back to find it again during your next walk.
There are tons of options. Focus on exploring ways to shift your relationship to your local landscape - whether it's an urban soccer field or a woodsy frisbee golf course. The more we feel that the land is there for us to enjoy (without exploitation!), often the more responsibility we feel to care for it. And that's something worth working towards.
Finding moments in nature that 'rhyme' with your daily life can be a fun practice; here's one of ours:
Okay, okay...don't take forest bathing as literally as Sebastian and his Spanish moss. It’s more of a spiritual practice.
As M. Amos Clifford, founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, describes it in his wonderful little book Your Guide to Forest Bathing:
"In the forest, it's not unusual to have a “unity experience”: our sense of self dissolves and for a moment we no longer experience ourselves as separate from the natural world. Usually, this type of experience seems more real than ordinary reality. These moments feel transcendent, as if they belong to a different realm. When we are deeply attentive to our sensory experience of the world—when we move slowly enough to be truly here, now, they arise quite spontaneously. We may feel an awe and wonder during our forest bath."
So how do you do it? Shoot for a couple of uninterrupted hours, giving yourself time to disconnect from the rest of the world. Wear sunscreen, even if it's shady or cloudy - trust us on that one. Surrounded by the environment, be still and listen to your body, orienting yourself in the space and scanning from head to toe for feelings and tension. Shift your focus to what's on the exterior, using all of your senses to experience the air, ground, plants, and animals around you. Let the forest guide you, further into the woods or back out. Try not to shock the system as you return home or to your car - drink a cup of tea before flipping on the tv, or taking a toke before opening TikTok.
Do you have a ritual like any of these that informs your creativity? Let us know!