Creative Chums – Erin Wainwright and Imaginary Friends

I realise that the title of this blog may be misleading – Erin Wainwright, I can confirm, is a real friend, not imaginary. In fact, Imaginaryfriends.ca is the name of her website which she shares with her other friend, also not imaginary, Bree Smith. She also happens to be one of the most creative persons I know for her versatility and her can-do attitude and she very much likes to use her imagination, hence the website title.

So, what can I tell you about my friend, Erin? Well, we’ve made a lot of great memories together and she is also one of the people in my life who continues to inspire me to try things, have a go, stretch myself. We first met when I lived in Calgary and we became great friends almost immediately, sharing a sense of humour and a love of all things creative. Our kids also got along well and so there were plenty of opportunities to do things together as friends, mums and collectively as families. As time went by, we also learned that we enjoyed camping too and shared many a trip together around Alberta, even taking one trip into Montana.

Erin’s Boler

Talking of camping, this leads me nicely on to one of her passions: her Boler. For those of you that may not be aware, a Boler is a small trailer or caravan that is of a vintage quality and pretty cute. Erin purchased a Boler from her aunt in British Columbia that had been sat in a field, unused and neglected, yearning for a life of travel and over time had become a little bit mouldy and sad.

Look at the transformation – Plain Jane to Super Boler! (courtesy of Imaginaryfriends.ca)

But Erin was determined to make it into a desirable travel home again and boy, did she make this happen. She researched what she needed to do in terms of method and materials and I know that she will say that it wasn’t easy because it wasn’t. There were setbacks as there are with all projects. Check out her website where she discusses each stage of the makeover, some of it not so straightforward, like problems with the frame and the priming of it ready for new paint. With perseverance and a lot of hard work, the Boler was transformed and I know that this is something of which she is suitably proud. I mean, look at it!

I have had the pleasure of going inside the Boler, fully redecorated in its interior too, with custom features devised by Erin herself, and it is just lovely. In fact, I wouldn’t mind just sitting in it with a nice book and enjoying the space, cosy and comfortable. The satisfaction that she must feel from knowing that that Boler is all her own work must be incredible!

Inside the Boler
Camping

So, having talked about the Boler, it is only right to mention the act that the Boler enables, that of camping and another passion of Erin’s. I have to say that Erin approaches every activity in which she is involved with an inordinate amount of enthusiasm and researches the best ways in which to make camping a memorable experience. I had no idea what a Dutch oven was before camping but now I know that you can make a dump cake* in it, which may need some further explanation so that it is not misconstrued as a treat that you definitely don’t want to eat. My camping culinary skills stretch to one pot meals – cake is something you purchase from the store pre-jaunt and wrap carefully to minimise crumbling. But with Erin, creativity was still king even around a camp fire.

Erin in camping action with her Dutch oven and possibly, a beer

On Imaginary Friends, Erin has links to camping tips especially for families wanting to take a successful camping trip as well as reviews of campgrounds that she has visited. I am sure that she will continue to add to this in the future too.

D’n’D

Erin is also a D’n’D enthusiast which, to the uninitiated, stands for Dungeons and Dragons. I didn’t know a lot about D’n’D before I knew Erin, other than the fact that it was a really good cartoon that I enjoyed in my youth with a mysterious small bald man in robes, someone annoying called Eric and something scary called Venger.

But there is so much more to D’n’D than that – it is a role-playing game where you are represented by a character with certain skills and attributes, not all of them good or useful. This character is then placed in various situations along with the other characters of the people with whom you are playing with entertaining consequences. I want to label it fantasy role-play but that conjures up a whole different image of the game and one which I am sure Erin would not want me associating with her.

A Dungeon Master orchestrates the proceedings and there is a whole lot of imagination needed in order to create game play as worlds are described with gods and monsters and magic and mayhem and battles and death…I can’t do it justice here but Erin and Bree, who share this passion, give their listeners on their podcast an update on their D’n’D game every time they play and it is very amusing to hear what wild magical shenanigans their characters have endured or overcome in their latest game playing session.

Erin is also passionate about the figures needed as well as dice towers and creates her own 3-D printed representations, skills that have been mostly self taught and honed in her role in the maker space in the university where she works. Some of her creations are pictured above and are pretty cool.

I really like the gnome riding on the back of a sheep – who wouldn’t?

Podcasts

It is probably time to talk about the podcast as I have already dropped a mention above. The podcast is a conduit for Erin and Bree to discuss all things that interest them. It has a theme every week (or two weeks as it is currently) and involves witty discussion of the topic as well as a D’n’D update and other features like “Weekly Wisdom” which can vary.

The Halloween podcast

If any of the things mentioned hold any interest for you, then you really should check the podcast out at imaginaryfriends.ca.

Renovating

This could be my longest blog ever and I still don’t think I can do Erin’s interests justice. One of the things that she has been doing lately is bathroom renovation which if you listen to the podcast, you will realise is long overdue. Painting, fitting vanities, changing mirrors, removing medicine cabinets – the list goes on.

She also made a fireplace surround (made it!) out of necessity because of an obtrusive switch, essential but bloody ugly which would have marred the aesthetic. With a problem like this, I wouldn’t know where to start but Erin did. And this is what I like about her – she didn’t want to settle for the switch being on show even though the installer said that it could not go anywhere else. With the built-ins either side, the switch had to stay or the built-ins had to go. This was not an option and so she thought about the problem and came up with a solution to accommodate the switch as well as creating a beautiful focal point for the room. You simply lift up a disguising panel in the fireplace and there the switch is.

Song writing

I know. It’s exhausting trying to keep up and whilst I feel like I’ve covered everything there is to know, there’ll be something forgotten, I am sure. But yes, just when you thought there was an end to her talents, Erin also writes songs and pretty good ones at that. Her latest effort is one that is dedicated to her friend who is going through a messy break up and so, in a bid to help him get over it, Erin not only wrote the lyrics but also the music to a very melancholy tune called “Now It’s Over” which I have in my head as I write this. Watch out for it as I am sure that it will feature on her website at some point.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the music which accompanies the podcast was also written by Erin and I can also testify to its catchiness. I often listen to the podcast when engaging in a bit of knitting and invariably, find myself humming the Imaginary Friends’ tune for the remainder of the day. It is a cheery little ditty, for sure.

And that, readers, is my friend in a nutshell. Versatile, ambitious, hard-working – all of these things – who gives anything creative a go. She’s not afraid to make mistakes and I know that she would tell you all to never be wary of giving something new a try. Jump in with both feet and see where it takes you.

And if you needed any proof of this approach, just look at how successful she has been.

Check out Imaginaryfriends.ca if you have found any of this interesting and see what Erin is up to this week. There’s bound to be something new going on!

And watch out for more features on my Creative Chums as I seem to have quite a few.

*dump cake – a cake made in a Dutch oven where all the ingredients are literally dumped in together and cooked over the campfire. No refuse or poo involved.

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