Category: Uncategorized

Wave “hi” when you see me!

Back in early April I spent a couple days in Cleveland to film 4 segments of Quilting Arts TV. I’ve never been filmed for TV… well unless you count that one time I was interviewed before an art exhibit and was super nervous or that other time I was on Bozo’s Circus. Filming QATV was a completely new and exciting adventure.

Before we filmed, I took a couple months to prep the materials so that everything I demonstrated made sense and put in hours of practicing/rehearsing at home so I could feel confident when I spoke. Before I knew it I was in Cleveland on this world-wind trip to film 4 different segments for 4 different episodes.

I’ve been asked how long did it take to film? Each segment of the show runs about 12 minutes and it took just about that much time to film. Unless, something unusual happened, the segment was filmed in one-take. None of this “CUT! Let’s do that again!” coming from the director.  If there was a need to stop, we re-Prepping Cheesecloth samplesgrouped and started back where we left off. Now you know that what you see is what we did pretty-much in real time. So the actual filming of all 4 segments only took about 1/2 a day on stage. [note: If you ever meet me in person, feel free to ask me about the 1-time we stopped filming and the other time I really flubbed, but we kept filming.]

April seems so long ago and I’ve been anxiously waiting to see the new season. I’m in the first episode (2401) and I’ve heard from people around the country who’ve already seen it. This week it is finally being aired on PBS UNC-TV Chapel Hill, NC channel 4. If you get UNC-TV Chapel Hill, the season opener will be tomorrow: Thursday, August 15, 2019 at 4pm. If you don’t get UNC-TV Chapel Hill, you’ll have to check your channel guide. All PBS stations independently carry and broadcast the show, so times will vary across the country.

During episode 2401 you’ll see how I create and use painted cheesecloth in my naturescape art quilts. You’ll also see me on episode 2408 and 2412. The 4th segment I filmed will air next season. If you watch any of them, don’t forget to wave “hi” when you see me!

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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 —
or purchase the series as a digital download

 

This summer

My summer is turning out to be busier than expected. Isn’t that always the case? Creatively, I’m working on a couple commission pieces, but they’re not something I want to share right now. So today I decided to show you a piece I created a couple years ago. This sunflower and butterfly artquilt was created for a collaborative art challenge. I was given the choice of several photographs to recreate using my own artistic style. I chose a fabulous photo of a butterfly and I used it to draw a pattern for my thread-painted rendition. (To see the full quilt check out my gallery page or click here. Note: this quilt is available for sale)

I started by tracing the basic shapes onto black fabric (using transfer paper). Then, using my sewing machine, I filled in the shapes with coordinating colored thread. In the examples, you can see how I filled in the traced lines (click on image to see a larger view). This technique is commonly referred to as “thread painting.” When I was finished, the entire butterfly shape was filled with thread. I then cut it out of the black fabric and appliqued it to the sunflower quilt.

When people hear the term “thread painting,” there’s often confusion. They think I’m somehow painting the thread. Actually, I’m using the thread to paint! A better way to explain the technique is to call the technique “free-motion embroidery” using a sewing machine.

Most people are familiar with hand embroidery, where you stitch a design using needle and embroidery floss. Free-motion embroidery is basically the same thing using a sewing machine. Instead of moving the needle across the fabric, I’m freely moving the fabric under the machine’s needle.

Thread painting is something I really enjoy doing. I also enjoy teaching the technique. What are you working on this summer?

If you want to learn more about my classes or upcoming art exhibits, you can join my newsletter or follow me on Facebook.

 


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

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

Have you ever thought why?

I’ve been noticing lately that I tend to re-create certain themes. Over the past few years, I’ve created a number of pieces that contain butterflies, bees, birds and trees. For example, I’ve created art using this little koi fish at least three times.

Koi fish have a powerful life force which is demonstrated by their ability to swim upstream. In some cultures, koi are associated with good fortune, success, longevity, courage, ambition and perseverance. I like to think that there’s some underlying symbolism in what I do.  But, maybe there’s not. Maybe I just have fond memories of watching these fish swim. They have such a playful way of gliding through the water, interacting with each other. Whatever the reason, I enjoy finding new ways to use these fish in my art.

When you’re creating, do you find yourself attracted to certain designs or colors? Have you ever thought why?

You’ve got this

Last week in my blog, I remembered the little girl I used to be. Part of my reason for looking back in time is because I continue to move forward. Today I am opening up a new chapter in creative my life. I don’t know where this will lead me, but I know I am doing something that I often thought about doing (I’ll tell you more next week).

In the past I wondered, why can’t I do this? Maybe it wasn’t the right time, maybe I really wasn’t ready. Anyway I look at it, I realize it’s been a long journey since that little girl was finger painting in kindergarten. What’s next? I have some ideas but what’s the rush?

I want to take some time and reflect on my journey. Sometimes we set milestones, but when we reach them we don’t take the time to appreciate where we are or how we got here. We always seem to rush onto the next step. But, really, how did I get here? I didn’t roll out of bed yesterday and suddenly make this decision. I realize it’s been a very long road full of trial, error and learning. Sure there’s been some set-backs along the way, but even on my darkest days, I was always moving forward.

Think about where you are in life. Even if there are things in life that you’re wanting, I bet there are plenty of things you can appreciate about where you are right now. I say congratulations!! because you made it to today. Nothing has stopped you from moving forward. I bet you had days that were worse than today and some that were better. You’ve worked hard to get here and there’s more to come. Don’t give up now. You’ve got this!

Tomorrow offers new opportunity

I’ve been riding a mix of feelings the last couple weeks and I’m wondering, how do you judge a good day from a bad one? Does any one event crush you to a point of writing the entire day off as bad? I’m know there are instances that could be that bad, but for the most part I try to focus on what’s good (operative word: “try”). This is what helps me get through difficult days.

Earlier this year, I entered 2 different juried art exhibits and heard from both this past week. The first one was a win. My artwork was accepted into the Sacred Threads 2019 exhibit. This exhibit is about textiles artists of all faiths connecting to the sacred and/or sharing their expression of the spiritual journey. Two years ago, I also was selected to be in this biennial exhibit and had the opportunity to go see it. This entire exhibit speaks to me. I’m extremely happy to be in this show.

Yesterday, I received the other notification which wasn’t so rewarding. This exhibit spoke to me from all levels of my journey of being an artist and sharing my connection with nature. All 3-pieces I entered were rejected. I was quite worried about entering this one, because acceptance would place me on another level of professionalism. I was extremely anxious about making sure the entry was spot-on and I didn’t make any mistakes (which could potentially get me eliminated). You know what? Even with all that anxiety about entering, I’m very OK that I didn’t get accepted. This rejection isn’t about me personally. It is about a pool of fabulous artists all trying to get their shot. Someone has to sit on the sidelines in this “game.”

Some days it’s difficult to reflect on what’s positive in our lives, but there always is something. I think putting the best that you have into an entry, then receiving a rejection can be difficult. I’ve been there, but I remind myself there’s something else down the road. This moment of disappointment is only temporary. When I feel myself in a pity party, I remind myself that tomorrow offers new opportunity.

 

See my artwork at:

Sacred Threads July 11-28, 2019, Herndon, VA

Where this leads

I recently became aware of on a newly formed organization called The Society For Embroidered Work (S.E.W.). “The aim of S.E.W is to promote and support artists who have an element of stitching in their artworks, hand or machine and traditional or contemporary forms of embroidery.” This organization is focused on raising the perception of stitched art away from being viewed merely as a craft. If you look at the work of their members, you’ll see the why this mission is so important. While grandmother’s embroidered hankies and table runners were beautiful and crafted with great skill, the innovative use of thread in today’s art world is at a much different level … take a look: societyforembroideredwork.com

Last week they made a call for new artist members. Since my work entails a great deal of free-motion machine embroidery, I took the opportunity to submit some examples of my work, along with an artist statement, and waited to hear their juror’s selections. Knowing the caliber of artists in their association, I was overflowing with humble pride to receive their confirmation email this week.

This is a new organization which holds great promise. By carrying member status, it is another way to encourage traditional craft techniques to be accepted into the fine art category. I’m proud to be part of this distinguished group and look forward to seeing where this leads.

Just show up and try

After writing about fear last week, a friend reminded me that one thing creative people fear is rejection. This is definitely an issue for me and most creative people I know. Generally, creative people work alone in their studio, pouring their heart and soul into their latest creation. Some find support groups to critique their work and offer productive feedback. But, for the most part, the creative process is solitary.  Eventually you’re proud enough of what you’ve accomplished and declare the “masterpiece” is ready for human consumption.

It takes a lot of courage to put your work out there. When the art hits the public eye, the reality sets in. People will have a opinion; good or bad. You always hope for positive feedback, but you never really know. Some creatives are so worried about negative feedback, that they refuse to put their work out for anyone to see. Other’s have no fear and really don’t care what other people have to say. Rejection is difficult, but over the years I’ve become more confident dealing with it. I’m believe people who may reject my art, aren’t rejecting me.

When I’m looking at someone in the eye, I’m pretty those with negative feedback won’t tell me what they “really” think. For this reason, I like to eaves drop in on people when they view my work. Doing this I’ve overheard someone say what I made was “hideous!” Or there was a time when a woman critiqued the way I quilted something.  I was also shocked the first time a 30-something woman viewed my oil can quilt and pondered why my subject was toilet plungers. Her comment made me do a palm-plant to my forehead . “Oy!” (P.S. I later learned it’s was a generational issue.)

So how do you handle fear of rejection? I notice I’ve grown a greater tolerance to negative feedback and rejection. However, I don’t think the fear of rejection will ever completely go away. I try to accept the negative comments as just an opinion, because I can’t please everyone.  Sometimes after the hurt fades, I realize that the comments offered good ideas and give me inspiration for improvement. Above all, I’ve learned the best thing to do is just continue to show up and try.

What fear is holding you back?

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about fear. I’m beginning to realize that it’s not an acceptable topic for adults to talk about. It seems like unless it’s a major crisis in someone’s life (death, illness, tragedy, etc) our sense of fear (anxiety) is not considered realistic. I don’t understand this because we all experience some fear in our lives.

Some people are fear junkies who live on the edge of life, jumping out of planes or climbing high mountains. Surely, they experience fear, because one false move could end their lives and they know it. These are hyper-adrenalin seekers. We view them differently because they do things so extreme, with apparently no fear. They are super-human. We might even ask them if they’re scared. They laugh with casual response like its nothing to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

But what about the fear of making a change or doing something out of the ordinary for yourself? We often allow these “milder” fears to stop us in our tracks and give up on our plans.  Sometimes it’s scary to move on with a project, so why not just give up? We can settle back into our “comfort” zone and just ignore the desire which set us into thinking about a new opportunity.

I think it’s important to be open about our fears and discover why they may stop us. Sometimes we fear the unknown. Other times it might be fear of failure, success, or a simply fear of change. Generally, none of these fears are usually life threatening, but we allow them to cripple us from moving forward. Why is that?

What’s worse is when we speak of these fears, they’re acknowledged as trivial… “Oh honey, that’s nothing to be afraid about.”

I feel fear about some of the decisions I’ve made with my art. Recently, talking with some other artists, I realized I’m not alone. If we all experience it, why don’t we talk about it.

Fear can be a healthy part of self-development. For me, fear usually will either make me give up or make me fight harder. It all depends on my passion for the project and my desire to overcome the anxiety. I’m the only one who can decide. So, what fear is holding you back?

 

Find joy in the creating

This is part 2 of a 2 part blog series on creative inspiration. Read part 1 click here:
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Last week I shared a story about becoming inspired by an art exhibit where I connected with the other exhibiting artists. The same weekend I had an opportunity to display a SAQA Trunk Show at a local quilt shop, Cary Quilting Company. SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) is an international organization of art quilters consisting of over 3500 members in 39 countries. They have several “trunk shows” containing small art quilts which can be rented and displayed.

As the NC/VA Regional Co-Rep for SAQA and with the support of Cary Quilting, I brought the quilts to the shop. For 3-days, my friend, Christine Hager-Braun, and I sat watch over the quilts and invited shoppers to look at the artwork. The overall response from visitors was “this is amazing.” They were excited by the diversity of artistic expression.

Since the quilts measure only 10″ x 7″, visitors were a little surprised by how small they were and realized they “could” work that small. The smaller size seemed to minimize their angst about creating art. Quilts are usually pretty big and cost a substantial amount to make. Something this small seemed to liberate them to enter their “studios” and play.

I also met creative people who didn’t quilt and didn’t want to learn, but they saw the variety of techniques and became intensely inspired to explore fabric as a medium. One beautiful woman, came back a 2nd day to show me what she was inspired to create after seeing the exhibit. It was pretty amazing what she did. Her energy, gave me energy.

But then, sadly, there where others who implied they could “never do that.” I answered, “Why not? If you want to, you can.”

I realize through this opportunity, that the power to be creative is inside each of us. Because bad art happens, the issue is whether we are willing to push past our ourselves and create things that might stink. As Seth Godin puts it: “What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.”

For years, I was my own worst enemy. A few people who know me saw that intimidated dabbler. I held myself back for many years, until I decided that I was destined to share what I do. It is increasingly clear, that my goal as an artist is to inspire. I can encourage confidence in those doubting themselves, because I’ve been a doubter too. I realize we don’t have to allow a critic to stop us because, it is our own decision to accept the labels. Yes, we can reject them, if we choose to.

Because there are so many ways to express ourselves artistically, we shouldn’t try to replicate someone else. I say be open to learn, experiment and make bad art. If one style of expression doesn’t feel right, try another. Eventually, you’ll know that you’re on the right track, because you will find joy in creating.