Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting Ready

Basting in progress...

As it happens I had last week off of work. One of the things on my "to do" list was "getting organized" creatively, or at least starting to, and laying some groundwork that will allow me to make better use of what free time I do have available for creative pursuits. I feel like I've gotten a fair amount accomplished. I basted a quilt, cut most of another quilt, cleaned my fabric storage area, and just generally took stock of what I've got going and what I want to be working on. It feels good to be flexing those muscles again, so to speak.

The majority of my fabric is actually still being stored at my parent's house, and as long as I remain in this apartment and as long as my parents remain benevolent towards me it's probably going to stay that way. There just isn't room here, and that's apartment life with roommates for ya. Because I've had to be selective about what fabric I have here, I've tried to prioritize the things I most want to be working on. Or the things I want to force myself to work on.

I know I know you might be thinking, if you have to force yourself to work on it doesn't that indicate that you don't WANT to work on it? I see how you could draw that conclusion, but no, I don't think that's always the case. There is a difference much of the time between what I truly want to accomplish and what I end up working on because it comes easily. When a project still needs the initial planning or starting burst of energy or requires me to figure out how to do something new I might end up not working on it, even if objectively it is something I truly want to do.

Well, this year in art and life I am working on finishing what I start - both literally and mentally. A lot of good ideas (and not just in quilting but in all parts of my life) never make it out of my brain because I never get around to doing the work they require - or sometimes just because I never get over the hurdle of starting, which can be very hard work.  I hope to break out of that pattern to, and hope I will be facing up to challenges and doing the work that needs to get done to make these projects finally happen. At least that's the plan.

And that of course in addition to finishing things that I have literally started, as in works in progress.  That seems to be everyone's goal this year!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fabric of a New Nation

One of the nice things about living in Chicago is getting to enjoy the exhibits from the Art Institute of Chicago's textile collection (and the Art Institute in general, of course). I think I have now seen four exhibits there, of varying interest to me, but I always am excited to see what's there and usually make it my first stop when I go.

The current exhibit is one some of you have probably heard about, entitled Fabric of a New Nation. Follow the link for a better description than I could give, but basically it addresses American textiles and textile traditions in the years immediately following the independence of the United States.

There are some quilts in the exhibit, such as this:

Star quilt

I found this star quilt fascinating, particularly because the stars are (from what I could see anyway) pieced from four 'V' shaped pieces of fabric rather than from eight diamonds - the pattern of the fabric is uninterrupted across the 'V', which is how I could tell:

Star quilt detail

The Star of Bethlehem was clearly a show stopper - still very very bright and vibrant and a fascinating sampler of period fabrics. Plus it is easily king sized.

Star of Bethlehem Quilt More detail
Love the fabric!

I was also very struck by some of the embroidered pieces, both samplers and embroidered wool bed spreads. I have been toying with the idea of doing a sampler for some time, particularly because there is a certain quote I want to immortalize with needle and thread (you'll have to wait, possibly forever, to find out what quote). I have had a hard time figuring out how to plan and execute it, however, since the only samplers I've ever made were counted cross stitch and from a pattern. This exhibit gave me a lot of ideas, though, so maybe I can actually move on it. 

This was my favorite sampler and the one closest to the way I envision what I want to do:


Probably my second favorite - I'm so smitten with the pond!


Detail of the pond!

One of the embroidered coverlets:
Embroidered wool coverlet Embroidered coverlet detail
Close up of the embroidery - click in to flickr and choose all sizes if you want a closer view.

I have also played with the idea of doing something like this, too - at least if not in this style then a similar approach or technique. Another example:

Embroidered wool blanket

There are more pictures of the exhibit, with many other examples and close ups, here.  Overall I really enjoyed it and found it gave me a lot to think about...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ring in the new...

Well, clearly 2011 has been a fallow year for me in the quilting/sewing/fiber arts area of my life, among other things. And that's okay. I think that if that's where the flow of life takes you sometimes, that's where you have to go. Right now I feel like I'm coming back around to this part of my life, or at least wanting to. Things are stirring.

In honor of a new year, new perspective, new priorities, I decided to finish this piece:


It is small, 14"x18", and machine quilted in what I like to call wavy cross hatching (I'm sure this is not a new idea).


I'm going to hang it in my office at work to remind me of my creative self...

I know some of you may be wondering what happened to the baby quilt of the last two posts? Well, what happened was, the baby was born. And it was a boy. So, I ended up gifting a boy baby quilt that I already had completed and on hand. What will happen to the bit of the folk art angel quilt I had completed, I don't know yet. It's going in the incubator, I guess. But I liked the suggestions I got of adding borders, etc., so we'll see.

Just a few other creative things I'd like to share. Check out this necklace my little brother made me for Christmas!!

Necklace up close

Fun, right? It's awesome to be from a family of makers.

Last but not least, after seeing this tutorial, I have spent many a happy moment making paper snow flakes. Here are some I cut from our junk mail like she did in the tutorial, but I have moved on to every and any variety of paper.


Snowflake up close

Ah yes. So anyway. We'll see where I go from here. I obviously never claim to know what's around the bend for me or where life is going to lead me. But this is where I am right now, at the start of another year.

All the best to you and yours :)

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