Posts Tagged ‘creative life’

Pour Art

September 26, 2018

I haven’t been able to do anything in the sewing room, what with a gimpy foot and all. Even handwork is out of the question since I have to keep the puffy little thing elevated (at the moment it looks like a watermelon), which keeps me at an odd angle on the couch, which means more beads fall on the floor than get captured by my needle. The only thing I have to look at is older work, such as this small canvas.

My art critique group held a play date where we all made two pieces by pouring paint over canvas. For once, I choose a restrained color scheme, and the results were much better than anything I’ve ever tried with paint.

The small canvas looks like an architectural detail to me, while the piece above reminds me of a satellite image, or perhaps a riverscape. I’m not sure what I will do with either canvas. For the moment, I’m reveling in the knowledge that less really can be more.

Luck and wisdom!

Discipline and Diligence

June 6, 2018

I wrote a blog for the Tri-Valley Writers website about discipline, diligence and productivity. Even as I was writing it, the snarky angel on my shoulder snorted. “Honey,” it said, “if you could actually be disciplined and diligent, you wouldn’t still have a messy sewing room.” So I decided to break down some of my tasks to help achieve my goals.

Four projects on the list, ready to be basted and quilted

I have finished the tops for several quilts on my Unfinished Quilt Challenge list. The number for the next project we need to complete will be drawn this week. I had a little extra time and decided to make backs for those quilts. I won’t layer them until their number is drawn, but when it comes up I can do that immediately.

I’m also working on one of the projects, a baby quilt. It’s small, but it’s also a traditional quilt, and I lose focus making the same block over and over. I’ve been sewing a few blocks here and there, and will be able to put the center together soon. The final border and back will be the same fabric.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day (6-6-44), and I’m taking that as a good omen. Diligence and discipline may not be my forte, but I can learn.

Luck and wisdom!

Graffiti Quilt – An Omen, Or Just Crankiness?

May 30, 2018

The latest Challenge Group project is to do something with graphics, graffiti, or lettering. At first I thought of doing an illuminated letter, but then I discovered fabric that looked like a concrete brick wall. “Self,” I said, “make something bright and cheerful on that.” It didn’t quite work out.

Not exactly cheerful

No matter how hard I tried, I could not come up with anything bright and cheerful. Even my message is a downer.

What if this is exactly the world you asked for?

The back is no better. It is a remnant of a piece I bought to make a series of World War I quilts. I’ve also used it for some fire quilts.

Good for explosions or fire

I suppose I’m in a dark mood because there’s an election coming up and my phone is ringing off the hook with campaign calls. We’ll see if my cheeriness returns after the results are announced.

Luck and wisdom!

At the Beginning

May 28, 2018

Whether I am writing or quilting, the first hurdle is always the same – the beginning. No matter how wonderful my idea is, until I get the first line of a story or the first fabric in the quilt established I flutter around like the butterflies in my backyard.

Ready for the first line to reveal itself

When the first line flows easily, I can convince myself that the rest of the story will spill out as if by magic. It rarely happens, but the joy of a good beginning can carry me through the hard work of creating a decent middle and respectable conclusion.

Even if the first line comes easily, it might not be what the story requires when I finally reach the end. The hardest thing about rewriting for me is reworking the beginning. I can gleefully slash whole pages in the middle, but cutting my first line is painful. That’s when I pull out the advice Mary Ellen Hopkins gave to quilters: “If your quilt isn’t working, take out the fabric you love the most.” When I find myself protecting that first line as if it were a cherished heirloom, then I know it is probably time to let it go.

Years In The Making

May 23, 2018

 

I found two quilts in that stack in the back of the closet (and I should really be singing that line to “There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”) that were finished except for binding. I know they were there for ten years, maybe fifteen. Possibly twenty. Waiting for binding.

I have no memory of making this. It is heavily quilted, and even has back art.

The batting is 100% polyester, which I haven’t used in ages. I bound it in a solid black. I have no idea why I couldn’t make that decision twenty years ago.

I vaguely remember making this quilt. I have no idea why I left it to languish when all I had to do was bind it.

The good news is they are bound now. What happens to them next? Who knows. I will leave you with a song (yes, to the tune of “There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea”), and I hope with the sense that your own stack of UFOs isn’t really that disgraceful.

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a stack, there’s a stack

There’s a stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a quilt, there’s a quilt

There’s a quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a patch, there’s a patch

There’s a patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

There’s a bead, there’s a bead

There’s a bead on the patch on the quilt in the stack in the back of the closet

Luck and wisdom!

One Step Forward, One Step Back, One Step Sideways

May 16, 2018

The inevitable result of clearing out my backlog of quilting projects is discovering how much I’ve grown as a fiber artist. I don’t mean this in a good way. The next project on the list for my guild’s Unfinished Quilts Challenge is a top I made years ago of swirling fish. The top wasn’t where I expected it to be, so I had to pull out the entire stack of unquilted tops from the closet. That was the step forward.

This is as neat as I get

Believe it or not, this is the tidiest my closet has been in years. The tops on the bottom shelf at the back are ones I will quilt as gifts or for donations through the guild’s Community Quilts outreach program. I culled these tops from a much larger stack. That’s when I discovered the step back.

I am not the same person who made these tops

This pile represents tops or tops-in-progress that really don’t deserve to be quilted, at least not in their current condition. When I’m in a better mood, I will re-evaluate each top and determine which (if any) can be salvaged. That’s the step sideways.

This stack contains tops I still sorta kinda maybe like. I will put them on a different shelf, with a note on each as to what I think I should do with it. Perhaps that will save me from once again going through that horrible experience of asking, “Self, what were you thinking!?”

Luck and wisdom!

Leftovers

March 7, 2018

I had some green felt left over from the project with ribbon roses, and some hand-dyed purple cotton thread, so I decided to resurrect my purplework project. Purplework is like redwork, just in purple. I thought I had sketched some patterns a long time ago, but I couldn’t find them. “Self,” I said, “wing it.”

Target or alien spaceship?

To be honest, I did use Helen Stubbings’ Simply Redwork for inspiration. The motif in the picture above is the whole reason I bought the book.

These flowers are from her book too. Once I finished them, I took out some other embroidery books and played.

Sea creature or alien spaceship?

I’m not sure what I was thinking with this one. I might add beads, or I might turn the pointy motif into a tiny sea creature by adding legs and antennae.

This last piece definitely needs more beads. I started with a paisley motif, but stopped partway through because I liked the idea of hanging flowers. Now I’m not so sure. The great thing about this project is everything was left over, so even if I’m not entirely pleased with the result I’ve learned something for the next time.

Luck and wisdom!

Cityscape in Felt

February 28, 2018

The last Challenge Group project was to take a piece of art and mess with it. I pulled out my art books, looking for inspiration, and found it in a Howard Behrens cityscape of San Francisco. I messed with the concept by putting it on felt. This is what started my journey.

From a book of Behrens’ work – a street in San Francisco

This is what I got after stripping together some scraps that didn’t always match Behrens’ colors but suggested buildings to me.

A street, an ocean, a sky

I put the pieced work on felt because the felt was there and I thought I could see if I liked the idea of matting the pieced section. Then I thought, “Self, leave it on the felt and do some embroidery. Pretend it’s a crazy quilt and see where it leads you.” This is what I’ve done so far.

This may turn out to be one of those never-ending story quilts. I’ve added a few lines of embroidery, let it rest a day or two, added a few more. As I dig through my floss and specialty thread collection, I have been inspired to push the design in a different direction. Who knows what it will look like when it is closer to done?

Luck and wisdom!

My Scary Halloween Story

November 1, 2017

I usually write funny stories, so Marlene Dotterer’s challenge to write a scary story really made me work. Since the whole shebang started with critters in the sewing room, I decided to go there for inspiration. This is what I came up with:

Yes, anything can inspire a story – or a quilt

The jeweled spider is an important character, as suggested by Julaina Kleist-Corwin, so it has a prominent position on the tray. I made the ceramic crow and the purple snowflake ornament, but the other pieces are things I found in odd drawers and corners.

This isn’t the first time a sewing room find inspired a story. Another horror story I wrote, “The Family Tree” (published in Eve’s Requiem by Spider Road Press) was inspired by my tree fabric collection. This story is called:

All Over But The Screaming

My sister cornered me in the sewing room, demanding a quilt for her fifth grandchild. She grabbed the amethyst batik I had just made and said, “This will be perfect for little Angelica. Her aura is such a vibrant purple, it’s as if she told you this was what she wants.”

“Angelica hasn’t told me a thing. That batik is going into an art piece I’ve been planning for six months.”

My sister tossed her perfect auburn curls. “But you will be making art. It will cover Angelica instead of hanging on a wall, but it will still be art. I’ll make sure Angelica knows how lucky she is to be related to a famous fiber artist.” She flashed the million-dollar smile I paid for after the car accident, with me at the wheel and her side smashed into a tree.

Every cut I made into that batik felt as if I were slicing into my own heart. Never say no to family, that’s the motto pounded into our heads. I made the quilt with care, but not with love.

I finished the center and realized there was still enough of the batik left for my project if I used something else for the borders of the baby quilt. I searched through my stash for a suitable substitute. A golden leaf print blended well with the other fabrics, as did an aquamarine solid, but both seemed more like afterthoughts than integral parts of the design. While I never apologize for my decisions, I knew my sister would nag me about those fabrics so put them back in the drawer.

I considered a black polished cotton with gray circles, even sent a picture to my sister. She was horrified. “The specter of death is hovering over this quilt,” her text read. “Didn’t you see the ghost in the corner? It’s on the right, near the edge of the screen.”

I stifled the impulse to throw my phone across the room. The talismans my sister had given me at the summer solstice – a ceramic crow, a jeweled spider and other bric-a-brac on a tray – caught my eye. She said it was an altar of protection, and that I desperately needed it. I snatched the jeweled spider and broke one of its legs.

The wire pierced my skin. A drop of blood welled on my finger. As I watched it grow, the blood turned from dull red to a glowing red-orange, like lava. Sparks of light rose along the edges, as if they were bubbles in water about to boil. The sparks flashed diamond-white.

The spider wriggled from my grasp and crawled up my arm. My skin opened everywhere the raw wire touched, bringing pain and heat.

I heard a crackling sound, and the spark bubbles exploded from the blood drop. They scattered about the room. Smoke puffed from each spark. I smelled burning cotton and silk, and the toxic odor of melting plastic.

The spider waved its wire stump at me. “Apologize.” It spoke with a crystalline voice – sharp, high, unyielding.

I tried to sweep the spider from my arm, but the beveled edges of the jewels sliced my hand as if it were so much sandwich meat. My knees buckled. Stacks of fabric tumbled to the floor with me. The air swirled with each avalanche, fanning the tiny sparks into flames.

“Apologize, and I will bite you,” the spider said. “You will die tonight, one way or another. My poison will make your death easier.”

I watched the flames jump from fabric to bookshelf to curtains. The smoke smelled angry. It smelled of my own hate. Now I must choose how I will end, in bitterness or rage.

Scary Stories

October 25, 2017

I’ve been thinking about scary stories set in my sewing room. The room itself is a scary story, but let’s not dwell on that. On the other hand, perhaps we should, and keep the title I came up with earlier in the year – Thread Brain: A Story – in mind.

So, let’s suppose the schnibbles and thread snips have gone beyond the dust bunny stage. They’ve accumulated critical mass and developed language skills.

Schnibbles of the world, unite!

Then they make an alliance with the stuffed toys to take over the sewing room, and then the world. Or maybe they infect the stuffed toys, like a parasite, and turn them into their own little army.

Birds worked for Hitchcock, why not for me?

Now let’s add another critter, one I only bring out once a year. Like this Halloween spider.

Halloween decoration or guardian angel?

This spider opposes the schnibbles. Why? To have the sewing room for herself? Or is the spider my guardian angel, sent to protect me from my willingness to create art in squalor and chaos?

This is the outline of a story. I have no idea if it should be funny or scary, short or long. It’s like a sketch of a quilt. Whether it should be king-size or miniature, art or utilitarian – those are questions that sometimes won’t take the answer I give myself at the beginning of the creative process. If you’ve got an idea for the story, write it in comments and we’ll see what happens.

Luck and wisdom!