Category: Success & Failure

Click away

Uhoh! What happened to the last 2 weeks? I’m usually pretty good about posting every week, but I got side-tracked by a number of things this summer.

At the end of August, I was happy to deliver 2 commission quilts that I’ve been working on. I don’t usually do commission pieces, but I really had a good feeling about this one. You never know what people will expect and sometimes that makes working on a piece challenging. Will they like it?

In this case, my friend already had great photography. She had a special place on her wall and wanted to commemorate a trip she made to Japan. At first, she asked me to create an original quilt using her photo for inspiration. When I saw her photo, I realized this could become a collaborative effort. She already had a great photo, so, why not just print it on fabric, do some of my thread work on it, then finish the piece. We both agreed to the plan.

The technology these digital fabric printing companies have is amazing. You can print your images on almost any type of fabric. A little bit of tweaking in a photo editor and it’s ready to upload to their website. Two weeks later beautiful fabric arrives in your mailbox and you’re ready to get stitching.

I’ve printed a lot of things lately and will share more another time. With all the things we can access to online, it makes the world feel like a smaller place. Everything seems like just a click away .

Interesting challenge

I don’t know about where you live, but the heat of the summer is getting to me. Living in the southeastern US, I realize it isn’t the heat, but the humidity that saps my energy. I look out the window and see the beautiful sunshine, but sadly realize it’s best for me to stay inside.

In a way, this really isn’t a bad thing. I can definitely find things to do. Today I am finishing up a commission project I’ve been working on. When I’m finished writing you, I’ll sit down with needle and thread to do some slow-stitching and binge watching. It’s time to stitch down the facing, then add the sleeve and label.

I work in layers when I create my art quilts. I start with the fabric design (in this example it’s a photo printed on fabric) and then I add my free-motion embroidery (aka thread painting). Then it’s time for batting, backing and quilting. Doing things in this order allows me to cover up some of the ugliness that happens with the embroidery work. It also keeps the thread-painted areas from becoming too flat.

Sometimes the quilting stitches on the back of a quilt are equally as interesting as the design on the front. I keep threatening myself to deliberately create a piece backwards so when it hangs, the design side faces the wall. That would be an interesting challenge.

Don’t give up!

One of a Kind GalleryLife has been busy the last 4 weeks. In my last post, I shared my experience with Sacred Threads. After I returned from that, I prepared for a “Meet the Artist” event at a local gallery where my work is on commission. It was fun being part of this event, meeting new people and seeing friends.

Pillow ArtBefore this event at One of a Kind Gallery, I decided I needed to do something a little different. I have all these great photos of my artwork, but once the art sells the artwork is gone. I decided to use an on-demand print service to print my art on fabric, then make it into something else. I decided to start with pillows and totebags. It appears I’m onto something. In the 1 week they were there, I already sold several pieces. I was also asked by another gallery if they could to carry these printed items. So, it’s time to make another order of fabric. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up with this and get some up on my Etsy shop.

Then while all this was happening, I entered my “Sounds of the Trumpet” quilt into the Fine Arts Festival exhibit at Arts Council of Moore County’s Campbell House Galleries. 2nd PlaceWhen you enter this exhibit, you assign your artwork to 1 of 5 categories. There isn’t a fiber art or textile category, so I assigned it to mixed-media. Since I use other things besides fabric and thread, I definitely fall into that category.

Prior to the exhibit opening, a juror selects the 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winners and honorable mentions. This year the juror was Bob Rankin, a well respected abstract painter from Raleigh, NC. I enter these exhibits knowing that there’s some heavy competition and that as a textile artist the juror may or may not appreciate my media. (As some of you already know, textile art is often looked at as “craft,” not fine art.)

Juror StatementSo there I was running around one afternoon, when I received a call from the Arts Council. I do volunteer work for them, so it’s not unusual that someone calls me. What was unusual was the message, I had earned 2nd place in the Mixed Media category. This is a major milestone for me. It was the first time that I won an award in a non-textile exhibit.

I share these wins in my life, not brag…but to encourage. To be honest, I occasionally question why I’m doing what I do and I know other people sometimes feel the same way. I create because making art fills a void in my soul. I have to do it, otherwise it pents up inside. Stepping out publicly to share your art takes guts. When it’s a flop, I think “what can I do different?” When it’s a success, I think “how can I build on this?” I always have to step back, evaluate, and learn from the process. And, I encourage you to do the same. If it’s in your soul, don’t give up!

 

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See me on Quilting Arts TV Season 2400 (episodes 2401, 2408 & 2412).
Check your local PBS station for dates and times — or program your DVR.

I’ll see you later!

Why do we make art? I’ve always had a creative drive. I’ve dabbled in multiple processes, but I’m usually drawn to textiles; sewing, crochet, knitting, embroidery and, of course, quilting. When I started quilting, I worked in a “traditional” style, piecing blocks together to make bed or lap quilts. What do you do with them? I  gave them to family and friends who I hoped would enjoy them. Eventually everyone I knew had something I made and I started to develop a stock pile.

Around this same time, I became frustrated with myself. I walked away from quilting and started to pursue mixed media art. You may have heard this story and my later decision to return to quilting using mixed media techniques (also known as surface design).

Well, that’s not the entire story. Around this same time, I also was involved with a small, local gallery where I sold some of my art. I realized, I could keep creating as much as I wanted and re-home it by selling it. I didn’t have to keep everything I made. If I don’t sell or exhibit my art, it stays locked in a room away from light, usually rolled up in a protective cloth bag. It’s safe and sound, but out of sight.

Art is meant to be seen. Storing it away forever, doesn’t make sense to me. I’d rather it be loved, appreciated and SEEN! That’s another reason why I sell my artwork. Of course, some pieces mean more to me than others and there is a part of me that’s sad to see them go. It’s like saying good-bye to an good friend, “I’ll see you later (maybe).” Sadly, sometimes life happens and you never see that friend again. Same is true with saying good-bye to your art. Some creatives never want to let go and keep everything they make. I’m not one of those people. It has to go, so I have room for new pieces.

So…why do I make art? Because I love the process and I love when someone loves my work enough to buy it. When I make art, it’s only meant to be mine for a short time. It really belongs to someone else who will see it in their home every day and who will smile when they see it, because they love it. It is my mission as an artist to find that special someone.

Yesterday, “Silenced” found that special place. Today it is in the home of someone I know who appreciates art, adores birds, and understands the plight of extinction. They love this art quilt and understand its deeper meaning without needing me to explain it. Today, I’m happy to say, “goodbye, I’ll see you later!”

May take me awhile

I’m still catching up on things and doing more “business” oriented tasks than artwork. Any creative work I’m doing I’m categorizing as exploration, experimentation, and/or slow stitching. This is a great way to stay creative when real production work isn’t happening. All you need is a little bit of down time to make progress.

Last year I started following a number of artists on Instagram who do slow stitching. I became instantly fascinated by this boro (reuse/mend) trend. I always hated hand stitching because I don’t have the patience to do it neatly. As, I looked at these creations my heart started craving it. My sewing skills started at an young age (under 10), when my mom encouraged me to do hand work; embroidery, crochet, hand sewing, etc. So this “new” vintage style really connects with me on a personal level. This stuff isn’t all that new to me.

They call it slow stitching because it’s just that…using your hands to sew, which, compared to a sewing machine, is a slow method. With the boro style sewing, you tend to use long running stitches to hold fabrics together. This type of stitching can really get you in a meditative/mindful state which is good for your mental health.

One of my more recent slow-stitch projects is about complete. I used indigo fabrics and pearl cotton thread to assemble this little bag that’s a perfect size for a cell phone, keys and a small wallet. It would make a nice little purse, but it needs a strap.  I tried buying some nice cording, but I don’t have many options around here and couldn’t find much online. I did have some wool yarn that would look perfect as a strap and I have a lucet tool that makes a hand-braided cord. So I popped open a Youtube video this morning to learn how to work this simple tool and I’m ready to go. Stay tuned, this may take me awhile …

 


See my artwork:
Sacred Threads
July 11-28, 2019
Artist Experience weekend: July 18-22, 2019
Floris United Methodist Church
13600 Frying Pan Road
Herndon, VA 20171
www.sacredthreadsquilts.com

The “Sól” in you

This month I’m working on class prep. Creating new art is, sadly, low on my priority list. But, this gives me an opportunity to reminisce a little. It’s always good to look back every once in awhile so you can appreciate how far you’ve come.

I made this sunflower quilt, “Sól” about 7 years ago. When I see it, I feel like it was just last year. Time moves quickly.

The piece was made as a challenge. Photographs were collected from the local photo club and local artists selected one to re-create using their own inspiration. By design, “Sól” turned out very similar to the photo. The biggest exception is that I used textiles to create my 3-dimensional image.

This was a fun piece to create. The sepals (green parts) were fuzzy on the photo and I wanted to recreate a similar effect. I decided to use green felted wool and added some fuzzy white roving (wool) using needle felting. The petals of the sunflower where stitched on fabric, cut out and then sprayed with a fabric stiffener product. I let them dry so they would stay wrinkly (and a bit stiff) when I sewed them to the background.

I am still very happy with this final rendition. This piece is now in the private collection of a friend. He saw it during the show and had to have it. I’m honored to have participated in this challenge and to know the piece is cherished in my friend’s home. Some of my best art has been created by challenges like this. Have you ever participated in an art challenge? They can bring out the “Sól” in you!


See my artwork:
Sacred Threads
July 11-28, 2019
Artist Experience weekend: July 18-22, 2019
Floris United Methodist Church
13600 Frying Pan Road
Herndon, VA 20171
www.sacredthreadsquilts.com

Challenge yourself

I really do have a plan for this summer, but I’m experimenting a little too. I spent so much time last year creating new artwork, that my brain is kind of in a fog about what to make next. Part of my problem, I don’t have any external deadlines to drive me with a purpose. I’ve been muddling along a little bit and experimenting with some new techniques. It’s always a good idea to have creative play time when you’re feeling a little stuck.

I entered a call for entry last week for “Eye Contact: creating a connection.” It’s an art installation that will be part of the Sacred Threads exhibit July 11-28 in Herndon, VA. The call for entry asked to for a 23″ x 5″ art piece that features human eyes. This was a little bit of a stretch for me, but I had a photo of myself looking into a mirror and thought it would be an appropriate subject for this exhibit. When I saw myself in the mirror, I noticed the lights that framed the mirror reflected in my eyes making my pupils look square. It fascinated me, so I snapped a selfie and rendered it into this art quilt.

It is a bit different from what I normally do and that’s OK. In order to grow as an artist, you must continue to challenge yourself.

 


See my artwork:
Sacred Threads
July 11-28, 2019
Artist Experience weekend: July 18-22, 2019
Floris United Methodist Church
13600 Frying Pan Road
Herndon, VA 20171
www.sacredthreadsquilts.com

Gathering Moss

If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I’ve been pretty busy the past 1.5 years (probably longer than that). At the end of April, I completed the last of my “big” events for awhile. Things are settling down. I filmed 4 segments of Quilting Arts TV in early April, but those won’t air until this fall. I also have another article getting published, but that won’t come out until October. Today, I spent my day doing the final prep on some new classes I will be offering soon. Those will be scheduled for later this summer.

One of the things I’ve noticed about life, is we frequently put ourselves in positions where we are crazy busy planning and preparing for things. For example, over the past couple years,  I’ve been taking on a lot of art and career opportunities which take lots of time. However, once an exhibit is open, article is written, or tv show is filmed, there’s a down time. This happens in everyone’s life, there’s getting married, going on vacation, or finding a new job. After all the excitement and planning, the event is over and there’s that little bit of a let down where you wonder “what’s next.”

I found it interesting that this past week I listened to 2 different podcasts where they expressed the same thing.  One was an interview with super talented, Academy Award winner, Viola Davis (Sunday Sitdown with Willy Geist podcast). Viola spoke of the excitement of filming a movie/tv show. After winning the Oscar, she put the award on a shelf. Soon, she started coming down from the high and found herself asking … “Now What?” It was comforting to hear, I wasn’t alone.

It’s important for me to continue working toward the next thing…whatever that may be. Whether it’s a project I want to do or another way to professionally challenge myself, I have to keep striving for the next thing. If not, I begin to feel restless or bored. It’s like the saying “a rolling stone, gathers no moss.” The phrase implies the person who stays active will avoid stagnation (modern meaning). That’s me, alright! How about you? Are you gathering moss?

Doesn’t hurt to try

Boro stitching

Do you ever wonder what’s the point in trying?

Recently I had a conversation with someone who mentioned that she was exploring so many things that it felt like she had an attention deficit disorder. I wondered if there is anything really wrong with being attracted to new ideas and creative outlets. Do you have to stick with just one? What if you try something and you don’t like it? Is it a failure if you don’t want to continue with a project?

From a young age, I was exposed to all sorts of creative outlets. I loved the diversity of it all. Crochet, needlepoint and counted cross-stitch were big things in my life when I was a child. Loved them all! Then forget all that when I found knitting in my 20’s….my passion! Then in my 40’s, there was quilting…the traditional (piecing fabric blocks) kind. Oh boy! I was hooked…until I wasn’t. Seriously, I really hated it and ran away from it all. I was too much of a perfectionist. Those matchy-matchy seams drove me Cr@Zy!

So, then I moved on to mixed-media and started exploring polymer clay, stamp carving, surface design, paper mache, collage, needle felting, weaving, et.al. Was I going insane? No. Eventually all this creative play brought me to where I am today. I have things I started and will never finish. I frequently donate my unloved supplies to school art supply drives or charity-based thrift shops.

But hey…I’m still trying new things…I always will! Why? because I love the thrill of trying! And as an art quilter, every so often those old skills come in handy. I love having this overflowing toolbox of resources!

Currently I’m exploring boro stitching, which is a Japanese method of hand-stitching used to mend fabrics. I’ve always hated my hand stitching, but I’m allowing myself to embrace my imperfection. It’s such a meditative process to mindlessly run stitches through cloth. The finished results are so intriguing.

In trying new things, you’re figuring out what works for you (sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t). It’s OK, if you decide you don’t like to do something, then just let it go. If you hate it, toss it in the trash and donate the supplies to a friend or charity. Just remember, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Inspired to seize the day

I’ve been anticipating for this day for several months. It’s May 1. When I was a child, the teachers would get a construction paper basket placed on their classroom doorknob. Each May 1st, or May Day, flowers were left in the paper basket. I don’t hear much about May Day anymore. Maybe that’s because I live in the south and spring arrives earlier than in Illinois where I grew up.

However, it wasn’t May Day that I was anticipating. It was actually the end of April. I have been in overdrive for many months. As of this week, the crazy-busy is over. I traveled a lot this year; Florida, Bahamas, Ohio and just returned from California. Now it’s time to get focused…no major events to distract me for awhile. It’s time to attack that “to-do” list I started. Now I’m faced with being accountable only to myself. No outside sources to drag me down a rabbit hole. (Well, that’s the plan anyhow!)

While I was in California, I spent time with my beloved Aunt and with 200 like-minded creatives at the SAQA conference. Inspiration was all around me. I laughed, I cried, and I contemplated. It is amazing how much positive energy you can receive being with kindred spirits.

Now that I’m home I must find the inspiration within myself. It’s easy to get distracted by all the noise. It takes focus to find inspiration alongside the clutter of every day life. What inspires you? Have you ever thought about it?

I find inspiration on a day like today. It’s May 1st and spring is here. The sun is shining. My windows are open. It’s warm, but not too warm. I hear the birds out the window. And, feel the breeze in the air. Days like this make me feel at peace and inspired to seize the day.