Still Thankful

The Thanksgiving writing miracle I hoped for didn’t happen. I wasn’t struck with a brilliant solution to how I’m supposed to get from where I am now in the chapter to where I want to be at the end. The odd thing is I expected to feel distraught over my (temporary) writers block, but I don’t. There’s still a lot to be thankful for, like the fact that I’m really close to the end of the first draft. There’s something to be said for not galloping to the end. Who knows what loose ends I’ll be able to tie up if I give myself breathing room? I’m also thankful that my characters are still talking to me. They’re not telling me what they want to do at this very moment, but we’ll get there. And I’m thankful that I have a space all my own for my writing – a place where I can sit and stare at the wall for hours at a time while I wait for the words to come. Or I could just let my fingers skip around on the keyboard and see what happens.

Luck and wisdom!

A Resounding Lack of Success

I use greens as neutrals, and thought I could make all greens blend. I was wrong. Greens can be persnickety. The photo above is proof (and those are all greens – the one that looks blue is actually more of a greeny-teal in person). The green laces and beads I chose for my kudzu piece are another proof, but the results so far are so hideous I don’t even want to show it. I won’t give up on the idea, but it needs a rethink.

While I am not pleased with this lack of success, I won’t let it beat me. I’ve put the kudzu piece aside, and am returning to other projects that have deadlines and places to go. Perhaps by clearing some of the clutter when these projects are sent off, I’ll be able to hear what the laces and beads want me to do with them.

Luck and wisdom!

Kudzu Volcano

I finally had an idea for a kudzu-inspired art piece using stuff I’ve saved and stuff I was given. The base for this piece is a cardboard packing insert that I thought looked like a mask. However, when covered with batting and fabric it turns into something entirely different. The green fabric was given to me by Rebecca Buzsaki, who has even more glittery stuff than I do thanks to her years of making dance costumes. I was hoping to use some of the wrapped floral wire that I bought for COVID masks (the wire is too heavy for that use), but of course I put the wire in a very safe place. While looking for it, I discovered some stiff paper that I used for making hat bands, and some stiffer paper that claims to be for making waists in dresses neat and tidy. Since my own waist is neither of those things, I have no problems using the paper tape to hold the lace I’m using for kudzu leaves – unless and until I find the floral wire.

There’s no pattern for this piece, which means it may languish for weeks until the various bits tell me where they want to go. I’ve never done anything remotely similar, so every technique will have its own learning curve. And I have no place whatsoever to display it. Why am I doing it? It’s art, sweetie. I’m making art.

Luck and wisdom!

Truth, Beauty, and Ugly Fabric

My husband mentioned – not for the first time – about the long-lasting impact of ancient Greek ideas on what were proper questions to ask for modern science. For the ancient Greeks, truth had to be beautiful and beauty relied on symmetry. Okay, I’m oversimplifying, but those notions about beauty are still prevalent in the art world, and still determine the kinds of questions we ask about what constitutes art.

This leads me to a confession: I like ugly fabric. Not all ugly fabric, mind you, just some. Ask any of my quilting friends about me heading straight for the least attractive bolts on the shelves in every single quilt store. It’s not like I feel sorry for the uglies and think I have to rescue them. I honestly enjoy including them in my work. Those batik frogs, for instance, are just waiting for inspiration. I know they’ll look fabulous. At any rate, that’s my truth about beauty.

Luck and wisdom!

Where My Ideas Go To Hide

Like most of you, I have more ideas than I can possibly turn into reality. I also have more systems for keeping these ideas than I can possibly remember how to use. A few years ago, I spent some time thinking about file systems and decided that a portable hanging file box would do nicely. Some unit of time after I bought all the components (and I won’t tell you how long that was no matter how much chocolate you offer) I sorted through all my notes and magazines and organized everything. Then the box got buried under piles and I forgot about it. I know where it is now and can mostly get to the files, but I have to really want to look at them.

Then the local stationery shop offered a variety of graph paper notebooks. I’m a sucker for notebooks anyway, but when they are graph paper notebooks I am helpless. I think I have a dozen of them, but I’m afraid to count.

Now I find myself with more ideas than I can manage, and more places to put those ideas than I can remember, and less time than ever to finish all the potential projects. So what else is new, you’re saying, isn’t that just what it means to be creative? Yeah, pretty much. And I guess life could be worse, so I’ll stop complaining.

Luck and wisdom!

The Value of a Fabric Stash

There are times when the universe rewards you for hoarding. I am making a large landscape quilt, and I thought I had all the fabrics I needed. I cut the rectangles for the meadow part of the quilt, put them on the design wall (well, put up ¼ of the pieces – this is a bed-size quilt and I have to do it in sections), and discovered that the fabrics that played together well in a pile are fighting like crazy on the wall.

Subsequent rummaging through my stash revealed pieces that promise to blend nicely. I also discovered a few other pieces that – combined with the rejected rectangles of the landscape project – will make a good beginning for a Challenge Group project that is due next month. That piece might also become a submission for a contest due at the end of the year. Even if it doesn’t, I plan to use it as a prototype for the final design of my contest submission.

All of which proves to me that I don’t need to feel the least twinge of guilt for buying fabric just because I like it. My stash will serve its purpose in the fullness of time.

Luck and wisdom!

Scraps + Pillow Forms = Trouble

I am sewing the final border of my tee shirt quilt. There is still lots of tee shirt fabric left. Aside from the images and lettering on the sleeves (above), there is the entire back of many tees. I mean, seriously, you expect me to throw all that away? It’s perfectly good! But what to do with it?

Then I made the mistake of wandering in the fabric store instead of just buying the thread I needed and leaving. I found pillow forms.

My family will tell you there is no more room in the house for pillows. They will tell you they have to make The Great Wall of Pillows on the floor just to clear space for them to sit. Well, maybe they’re right. Still the tee shirt scraps will make fabulous pillows, don’t you think?

Luck and wisdom!

Stacks Of Stuff For The Blah Days

There are days when I barely have the creative energy to choose what tea I’m going to drink. This week, with a heat wave and bad air, promises to provide many such blah days. Luckily, I’ve added a stack of ready-to-quilt projects to the sewing room. These are small quilts, art experiments for the most part. They aren’t basted, but the back is made and the batting is cut roughly to size. I’ve even made the binding so I have to make a decision about anything. I generally follow the pattern of the dominant fabric in my art quilts, or use a narrow, wobbly grid so I don’t have to mark anything. This will keep me working even when I can’t do anything requiring mental effort.

To prove how lethargic I’m feeling, I can’t even muster any enthusiasm for beading the tree quilt. I finished the hand quilting and bound it, then hit a massive block. My beads are not speaking to me, the quilt must have laryngitis, and my embroidery threads have taken a vow of silence. Perhaps when the heat spell breaks they’ll decide to talk again.

Luck and wisdom!

The Limit of Routine

Creativity isn’t really an attribute. Like fire, it’s a process. It requires work. You can establish a routine that gives you time to do writing or art or music, but that doesn’t mean you will accomplish everything on your to-do list. Either the stars aren’t aligned or you haven’t answered a crucial question about plot or the light isn’t right – whatever the reason, there are days that no amount of feng shuing or guarding the edges of your schedule will allow you to be the artist you want to be. That is the limit of routine. Accept it, and find a plan B for the less than ideal days.

Is that being lazy? Maybe. I’ve pushed through creative blocks before and been sorta kinda maybe pleased with the result. I’ve pushed through other times and had to redo everything the next day. What it’s taught me is that I will never find a setting labeled Ideal Balance In Life. The best I can do is re-balance. I’ll always be lurching from one extreme to another, like a flame lurches and flutters. That is part of the process. As long as I keep burning, however, I’ll be able to make art.

Luck and wisdom!

Corralling The Little Gray Cells

With every great change comes the aftermath. Last week I made progress on my novel. I was so inspired that I started writing notes for future scenes as I worked on the outline. My little gray cells were leaping about with ideas, or parts of ideas, or something that could eventually be an idea if I would just calm down enough to evaluate it. I went into my sewing room to finish up a project, hoping to give my brain some space. The rush of creativity followed me there, and I pulled out two handwork projects, set aside fabric for another piecing project, and cleared off part of a shelf.

So now I’m tired, but the little gray cells are still doing their jig. The good news is I’ve got worked lined up to keep me busy through the eventual slogging phase of my projects. This is the way of creative breakthroughs. Understanding that the aftermath will be more ideas than time or energy will help me from despairing of ever finishing anything. I’ll just keep the projects in (for me) tidy piles and tackle them one by one.

Luck and wisdom!