Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Practicing What I Preach

Fourteen fifth graders came to my shop to learn a bit of fashion sewing, most trying a machine for the first time.  I began by talking about finding inspiration and keeping a journal of ideas, images, colors and ideas.  It was well received (as was the project of making a tote bag, which everyone finished). Wouldn't it be nice if I practiced what I preach?!  I have journals and try to sketch or draw and do keep my ideas in writing, but no practice has been achieved.  I was hoping I would return from my adventures at Craft Napa with a renewed sense of creative excitement that would keep the spark lit for daily creative practice.

It was such a great trip, beginning with an on-time flight despite unusually heavy rains.  I was reunited with friends I had met the previous year and made new ones.  Each class and instructor was wonderful!  I returned with lots of ideas, new skills and components to create more!  But then it was back to work - and paper work, and getting my son ready to study abroad, and bookkeeping.  I haven't touch my journal - but I think about it.  I haven't stitched my free motion collage - but I think about it.  I haven't finished the paintings I started or tried the wood blocks that I bought - but I think about it.  

I have the knowledge, the tools, the inspiration.  I just have to find the motivation and time.  It'll come eventually, don't you think?  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Need to be Committed

No, I don't need to be locked away (unless it's in a fully stocked creative space with  great coffee).

I need to commit to participation.
Having other people count on me to finish a page, enter a quilt or mail a postcard makes me accountable and forces me to finish (and start) projects.  I have been careful not to over extend myself so that I don't 'flake' or drop out of a group.  Spreading the mediums make my creating more interesting.  So what have I committed to this year?

I am at the tail end of an altered book round robin.  Each artist chose a theme for her book and we each took four or so pages to alter.  Fellow participants chose varied themes ranging from Africa and Edgar Allen Poe to Galileo and Nick Bantock.  My book has a travel theme and I look forward to getting it back and seeing each interpretation.  

I belong to two quilt guilds and each had a themed challenge.  One was 'masks' and the other was 'log cabins'.  I struggled to be inspired for the mask challenge - actually I had some great ideas that I sketched but was not able to execute them in time - so I back out.  The log cabin quilt turned out adorable in my opinion.  I liked the final piece!

Most recently I signed up for iHanna's DIY Postcard Swap.  Hanna is a blogger from the Netherlands who hosts the international swap twice a year.  I made ten postcards and sent them around the world.  In turn, I receive ten in my mailbox.  As of today I have received four - each unique and wonderful.  
Here are the postcards I created:

"Just Go Forward' had always been one of my mantras.  I always found that if I am moving in a positive direction - no matter how small of a step - that it is a good thing!  I have also often drawn arrows.  So this is what came out of my art (the post-election sentiments may have had a bit of an influence as well.) 

So that's it.  Do you find committing to participate motivates you or stresses you?  What are you committed to lately?

Friday, September 30, 2016

If I don't try...

I won't grow as a quilter - more apt, an art quilter, if I don't try.  Challenge myself.  Put myself 'out there.'  It is hard for anyone and I envy the artists that have the confidence to enter and exhibit pieces and call themselves the artists that they are.  Have you ever attended an art show and thought to yourself 'I can make that', 'my art is better than that'?  If you said 'no' - I don't believe you.   

My son is a budding film maker and musician.  He calls himself an artist.  While an introvert, he confidently enters student film in competitions and posts his work on line.  I admire his confidence. Perhaps what differentiates those that have the ability to call themselves artists feel the message that they have to share with the world through their medium, as opposed to what many of us have, which is the need to make something visually appealing.  

I created this art quilt for a show that Pokey Bolton organized to pay tribute to the late Yvonne Porcella.   Yvonne was a talented artist, art quilter and founder of SAQA.  This piece was inspired by an early book of hers.  I submitted the photos and statements and it did not get selected.  I was not surprised, as the artists who also submitted works are the tops in the quilt world.  And this is not my best work - too much negative space on the top and bottom (it would have been better if it was horizontally focused, but I did not read the instructions for the dimensions until I had finished the kimono piece.)  I don't feel bad about this piece, even though I did not get accepted, because I tried.  I did some small piecing and painted, did hand and machine work.  I put myself 'out there'.

I am thinking of adding some beading and entering it in a local show.  And I will continue to grow in my artistic journey.  I will continue to try and put myself out there.  Perhaps someday I will have the true confidence to call myself an artist.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Letter to the Unknown Crafter

Dear former owner of the treasure box,

I never knew you but enjoyed walking around your home and perusing the many items on display on folding tables throughout.  I hadn't planned on stopping but a friend told me about a good estate sale that was on my way to work.  Certainly a quick swing through the rooms wouldn't make me late on a Saturday.
The large hat box on the floor caught my eye.  It was overflowing with trims. lace, ribbon and ends of plastic baggies.  Marked at only $20, it looked like a good price for some fun fiber pieces to play with.  Before I could find someone to pay, I noticed a folding table piled high with all kinds of fabric and needlework.  Some little vintage needlepoint started my creative juice flowing.  How could I incorporate some of these in my projects?  The gentleman taking the money offered up the entire pile of stuff, along with the hat box, for a fair bulk price.  Not having time to sort through things, I agreed and his friend materialized with two garbage bags to haul my lot.  I watched all sorts of material be shoved into the plastic, include some yucky coated table cloths and discount store table runners.  Everything went into my trunk and  as I drove to the store I wondered what kind of person you might be or might have been.

It wasn't until the next morning - Sunday, my day off - that I unloaded my car to see what I purchased.  Not knowing the condition, I set up on the counter in my patio area.  Starting with the hat box, I pull out pieces of lace and trim and sorted them.  There were lots of pieces that were interesting in shape and texture and suitable for dying.  Some eyelet, some battenberg, a few doilies.  Pieces cut from old garments.  I imagined you saving bits of dresses that you hated to throw out.  I hope you don't mind but I think I may turn much of what you saved into bright colors.

I think I got to know you a little more as I went through the bags of needlework and home items.  I tossed the plastic coated pieces and will donate some of the mass produced items.  I will upcycle some of the needlework, because there was a lot!  I am imagining you did much of the needlework yourself.  Us crafters often enjoy the making and don't always finish the items and find them a home.  There are many needlepoint projects that were well done!   Many look like they were from the 70's, especially the crewel pieces.  It's the colors and motifs that give the hints!

So dear crafter (or collector) please know that these items that you kept for so many years - finished projects and pieces for future ones, are in a good home.  I have already started to enjoy them,, having dyed some pieces pink and some green.  Some may be used in art quilts, others perhaps to embellish garments.  The possibilities are endless!

(who has more supplies for 'endless possibilities' than she knows what to do with!)
P.S. I started playing with some dyes and this is some results! Pink and green pieces of lace and eyelet.  They turned out great!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Weighting for Rust

I really do create everyday. Very often it a small bit at night, but no day goes by that I don't do something.  I can't help myself, can you?  

Sunday is my day to play the most, and this weekend was no exception.  My son had surprised us for a visit from college the previous weekend and left all of his weight lifting equipment outside on our patio (in Florida.)  Rust appeared in areas and just called to me to dye with it.  So I did.

I grabbed the required supplies, which are always things I have around the house (and that does not happen often when the creative spirit moves me to try something new.)  Vinegar with water in a spray bottle, fishing line and fabric.  (Gloves may have been nice but I couldn't find any.  I am updated on my tetanus shot.)  

I wet the fabric with the vinegar/water mixture and wrapped it around the rusty areas.  Some pieces were scrunched, some were cut thinner and wrapped around.  Another was placed under weight plates. 

I let them sit overnight, spritzing it a few times to dampen it.  In the morning I unwrapped the fabric.  It was rinsed in a water and baking soda bath for a while to neutralize the rust and then rinsed again in clean water.  Some pieces came out better than others but I am excited by the prospects.  

Some pieces turned out better than others.   Not quite sure what I will do with the new fabric, but   I am liking the possibilities!  
(so is Stella! )

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Welcome 2016

Well January snuck up on me.
This past year seams to have zipped by, and no one in my household is complaining about that.  Not a super great year for everyone here, but we are all forward thinking so we welcome this new year with open arms!

Did you have a resolution for 2015?  Did you keep it?  I did.
I decided to set a new years resolution that was reasonable and attainable and I decided I wanted to get into the new millennium by finally setting up online bill paying and banking and I did it.  It may not seem like a big deal but it was something I had never done and I feel good about getting it ALL done.  I had thought about a few other things, like draw and journal every day but that was not going to happen.

Now that it's another new year I need to come up with another resolution.  I need to exercise but to set a regular schedule to stick to is never going to work, as much as it should.  I would like to try adding some yoga this year.  I have only tried it twice in my life but my mind and body seems to be telling me to do it.  Can't promise a set number of days a week so fast but lets try it.

High on my list this year is to up my art quilting skills.  It's another thing that is pulling at me - if that makes sense.  I am kicking off my new year with Craft Napa, an art quilting retreat in Northern California where I had a tough time choosing classes to register for.  There are only three days of offerings and I could have filled more than a week!  Can't wait!

I added some photos to this post that have inspired me this year. Places I visited, people I met and of course some of the quilts on exhibit that I am privileged to see have filled my iphoto files.  Didn't even know where to start but here a some that jumped out at me.  I look forward to having lots more to share in 2016.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful For- and Defending - my Art and Craft

A delightful Thanksgiving.  
All together with both of my boys and both sets of parents.
Add some extra friends and we had an interesting, well fed afternoon.  I cleaned non stop as my husband cooked the turkey, pork, two homemade stuffings, sweet potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes. apple cake, and pumpkin cheesecake.

My immediate family obviously knows what I do for a living/hobby and my parents stop by my shop often.  Everyone else - not so much.  Some of our guests had never been to our home so they had to get educated.  Piles of quilts decorate chairs throughout and bowls of Wonder Clips and thread sit on tables like a candy dish at Grandma's house.  It's after we show them around the house and they walk in to my craft room/ studio and walk around as if it's an unkempt cabinet of crafty curiosities that an explanation becomes necessary.  

Spend some time with me and get me talking about my shop and my passion for what I do and it is clear how much I love it.  I can talk for hours about the quilt industry and all of it's variety and possibilities.  

One of my husband's friends seemed to appreciated the creative chaos.  His ex wife was apparently a crafter.  When he saw my sewing machine he said "wow, that's a dying craft."  I love the fire that lights and continued to tell him how many billions the industry rakes in every year; the worldwide popularity; the international visitors to my shop who gush at the choices and displays.  I pulled out different quilts I had made and the collage quilt that I am binding until I felt that they 'understood.'  

After my speech and show-and-tell we all sat down for a digestive chat and my dad brought up a recent post  I shared on the StitchCraft Facebook page. It was the process of artist Susan Carlson and the creation of her huge fabric collage crocodile.  A pretty amazing video and I was please that even the non-quilter was intrigued enough to watch.  That prompted me to bring the discussion to the true artistic aspect of our world.  The website of David Taylor is a favorite gallery of inspiration and the reaction of my son and his friend was as expected.  "That's a quilt Wow."  Like the end of a Thanksgiving feast, I was satisfied. 

I am thankful for all of our staff and customers who give me the joy of getting to work each and every day.  I am blessed to be surrounded by creativity.  Happy Thanksgiving.