Posts Tagged ‘creative life’

The Projects Strike Back

January 30, 2019

We all know pride cometh before a fall. I was so proud of myself for getting my projects sorted and ready to go that I forgot about the consequences. The projects are striking back, starting with this one.

I made the four blocks as part of a demonstration. Rather than stick them in the orphan block bin, I put them in a bag with some other fabric for a charity quilt. I envisioned a charming quilt for a little girl, what with the pink flamingos and all.

As I was unpacking the the bag, I found this.

This does not fit the theme of “charming quilt for a little girl” and is in fact not yardage but a panel for making boxer shorts. Don’t ask me where I got it, or why it found its way into my flamingo block bag. It just did.

The palm trees and pale fish fabric also found their way into the bag, and although they go with the theme, I’m coming to believe they want to be in an art quilt all on their own. So, instead of one project I’ve got two, and a shark panel. Oy.

                                                        Luck and wisdom!

Asking Questions

January 28, 2019

My copy of Wonderland, already flagged and tagged

Creating art usually starts with a question. What if I mixed these colors? What if I sewed these fabrics together? What if a stranger came to town with a mysterious gift? Then you bring out the paints, or the scissors, or sit at the computer and let the rest of the project flow logically from that question. Turns out writing history is the same. You start with a question, assemble your supplies – in this case, the documents, photographs, and artifacts of the era you’re studying – and let the story flow logically from the facts. Except that the interpretation of the facts is colored by the way you ask the question. Steven Johnson asked a question about fashion, recreation, entertainment, and the unknown masses and came up with a different take on history. The first chapter of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World is called Fashion and Shopping. I’m not thin or rich enough to be a fashionista, but I certainly have experienced the benefits of retail therapy, especially at a quilt shop. How wonderful, then, to read Johnson’s discussion of the effect of cotton on Europe. Not only was cotton a revelation in texture to people accustomed to wool and linen, but the results of the dying techniques developed in India were irresistible. “When Vasco da Gama brought back a cargo full of textiles in 1498 from his landmark expedition around the Cape of Good Hope, he gave Europeans their first real experience of the vivid patterns and almost sensual textures of calico and chintz.” The next line is even better: “As fabrics, calico and chintz first made their way into the routine habits of Europeans through the gateway drug of interior decorating.”

My first thought on reading these paragraphs was about my next stories and novels. I could build my grand civilizations not on the bones of conquered peoples, but on the imagination of interior designers. My planets could be ruled not by emperors, but by fabric artists. Storytellers could be the most highly regarded in the population. The economies could work because they already have worked here. I’ve just begun the book and have already flagged a dozen pages with notes-to-self on world-building. All of which proves that asking questions is always valuable, and asking odd questions is even better.

Luck and wisdom!

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!