How to Be Creative

I don’t think anyone can tell YOU how to be creative, but Melody Johnson talks about what she does to be creative, which is a great start at figuring how you can be creative. It is good to hear what other people have to say. One way to be creative is, as Friend Julie said, just to show up. Deirdre is encouraging us to make one thing a day for every day in February, which goes far towards encouraging creativity. I am tempted to sign up, but I am sure it would be another recipe for feeling guilty.

Coalescing Ideas

Last year, my good friend, The Fabric Queen, embarked on a project to use a little piece of each fabric she bought all during the year. The goal was to see how the fabric worked in a block, so she could buy more if it worked very well or not worry about acquiring more if it wasn’t optimal for actual quiltmaking. I thought this was a great idea. If I did something similar it would alleviate the problemsthat I had last year with trying to find old fabrics. It is on my mind, but I haven’t yet done anything similar.

Earlier this week, after reorganizing the reading material next to my bed, I came across a Summer 2005 issue of American Quilter magazine and the cover quilt drew me in and got me to thinking, on various levels about TFQ’s ongoing project with her new fabrics.

Jane Blair‘s quilt, Things Change, first of all is a really amazing piece of work. The way the layers peel away to reveal another layer is masterful in construction. However, it was one piece of the quilt on the cover that particularly fascinated me. In the upper left hand corner, the artist has placed some simple blocks made up of two rectangular pieces. I am not fond of the colors, but in this quilt, they make perfect sense and Ms. Blair achieves (what I perceive to be) her goal of showing how quiltmaking has evolved.
The thought began to rumble around in my mind that this block might be quick enough to piece for me to actually make blocks using the fabric I buy throughout the year. Then thoughts evolved to the size of the block and the size of the pieces. I haven’t looked it up in EQ6, but it isn’t really such a difficult block that I couldn’t just cut a couple of rectangles and sew them together, however I do think that the ratio of the patches to each and the whole block would be important. It would also be important to determine the right size of the block, so as to showcase the fabric without taking too much fabric or making too much of a commitment to this exercise as a project. I don’t want to make really difficult blocks with 30 pieces. If I do such an exercise, I want it to be simple and effective.

I think that making this rectangle block in a 12×12″ size would be crazy. I wonder if it would work in a 4×4″ size? The patches would be 2.5″ each, so the block would be a finished size of 4″. I suppose I need to fall back on my mantra, made popular in my circle by Lorraine Torrence, “Make Visual decisions visually. I guess this means I need to wash some fabrics!


I sewed a couple of options and it looks like the larger one is better. It is great to be inspired by other quiltmakers. I also like talking about quiltmaking with others and being inspired by our conversations.

Quiltmaking By the Sea

Often, I work almost all the time at one of my two jobs or dealing with other non-paid work type tasks. This past weekend, I threw it all aside, took Friday-most of Sunday off and went to a quilt retreat! Hooray! It was great! I spent Friday night, Saturday and a few hours on Sunday sewing.

I couldn’t completely get away from work, so I worked on the bookkeeping while I watched Law & Order and waited for Friend Julie to arrive. I did go visit Cabrillo Sewing, which is right next to the hotel (how convenient!). Little did I know that downstairs, in the Begonia Room, the other ladies were setting up and warming up their sewing machines. I was pleased that I did this work, however, as I felt a lot better about taking the weekend off.

As you can see, I wasn’t able to follow the directions that I originally set out for myself. The display quilt from Quiltworks Northwest that I saw at APNQ can be seen here. I am really not sure what happened, but as I drove down to the hotel, it occurred to me that I would rather work with rectangles.

Julie got my act together by arriving. We went downstairs with all of our stuff and set up for sewing.
Here is my mess after cutting a bunch of strips and rectangles. We eventually went to dinner; we tried to go to a restaurant that serves only ostrich meat, but we couldn’t find it, so we ended up at a little Mexican place. It was storming quite hard and they had sandbags around the doors and cloths and things stuck in the windows to keep the water out. Quite the adventure digging for change for a parking meter in the dark in the driving rain where the meters give you 5 minutes for each quarter!.

I was amazed that we sewed as late as we did – 10:30 or so, then we went up and drank Sambuca and Limoncello while we watched more Law & Order and CSI. I am such a junkie for L&O- it is what I do in hotels.

The next day we sewed all day except for a quick dash to lunch and to a quilt store called Round Robin (Portola and 38th Ave). They had nice fabrics and the place was restful and organized. I bought only a few fabrics at the two shops.
I used up about 4 yards of fabric in the quilt and didn’t want to buy more than I used. A novelty, I know, but I really wasn’t in the mood to buy fabric and didn’t see anything I had to have. The dots are nice. I hadn’t seen the one with the white background before. I went back and forth on the one with the black background as I don’t have an idea for a project. The other black-on-whites will be used for the Cross Blocks/Flowering Snowballs.

Aside from a quick dinner at a local Thai Restaurant, I sewed until about 11pm. I really wanted to get a handle on how I was going to put the blocks together. By about 9pm the blocks were finished, but I hadn’t made them perfect squares, so some figuring needed to take place. Terri let me use her portable design wall, which was absolutely necessary and I was very grateful to her for it.

I fiddled with placement a little bit, but mostly worked out how I was going to get different sized blocks together. Once I had about four done, I went to bed and let the process percolate while I slept.

The next morning, I sewed the rest of the blocks together and now have the top you see at the top of the post. I think I’ll call it the Chocolate Box.

So, one thing about this project was that it was not at all precise. I was ok with having to fiddle with putting it together, because I could just mindlessly sew whatever I wanted wherever…basically. I did have a semblance of a plan. Second, I am glad I used the rectangles instead of the squares, because it makes this project mine while allowing me to be inspired by another quilt. Third, there was enough structure to keep me grounded with enough freedom to relieve the stress of the Pineapple Problems.

I don’t have any pictures of it, but Friend Julie is taking a mentoring program from Gabrielle Swain. One thing that she does is “show up”. That means that she gets into the studio every day and works. For her, that is four hours a day. WOW! I am so impressed, I can’t even tell you. I admire her for the commitment. She isn’t just sewing, however. She is noting down her ideas in a visual journal and it is the visual journal I want. My little drawings looks so sad compared to the exuberance of her work. I look forward to seeing more of it and getting to that point as well.

Everyone should really go on a quilt retreat once in a while. Boy! I would love to do that once a month. I can’t believe how much I got done in 17 or so hours of sewing. Amazing!

In Synch with Melody Johnson

While I really should be telling you all about what I did on the weekend, here I am showing you someone else’s work. I have a reason and the reason is that what Melody is doing, I was doing on the weekend. I finally made the Chocolate Box, which I will show you in my next post. Hopefully.

Series Work: Making Parts

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Hanging Quilts

I was glad I stopped by melody Johnson’s blog today as she is talking about how she hangs her quilts. Very interesting!

I hang my quilts from a system that uses a shelving standard screwed to the ceiling, and S hooks and fishing line looped over the ends of the rod. Or in this case, actual picture hangers.I have to have a way to hang many sizes of quilts, and I change them out often. This system is hardly noticeable since the eye usually sees the quilt first.
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Fantastic Photos

I am thrilled that I have a variety of creative people inhabiting their worlds near mine. Today, and for the previous few days, DebR has been posting gorgeous photos for her Daily Art Thang. Go over and take a look.

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“One” (clickable)

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Birthday Wishes!

How lucky am I ? I got a blog post all about me, except for the little bit about Jake. Kristen is the best. Thanks, dear!

Happy Birthday, Jake and Jaye

Today is also Jaye’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAYE!!!! i met jaye on a fabulous quilting yahoogroup about 7 years ago – maybe w little more than that now – i met her when lydia told me i had to join the group – all the cool people were doing it *heh heh* it turned out that jaye actually lived within 100 miles of where *I* lived, so we’ve gotten to meet a handful of times. of course, i have since moved, so i’m now closer to 300 miles away from her, but we managed to meet up last year. i wish we could get together more often. she has an amazing son – irene and i got to visit with him as well last year when we met up. anyway, you should check out her website b/c it’s got lovely bright colors and she always has creatively inspiring tidibits. check out her flowering snowballs and her pineapples and her thoughts on dots! maybe even leave a comment and wish her a happy birthday!
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Pineapple Sew Test

As promised, here are the two blocks that I sewed together. This is all I have done in terms of sewing and they don’t match up very well, but they also look GOOD! I think this means that they don’t look horrible! Hooray.

Can’t stay away from dots. I saw this outfit and bought it for a friend who is having a baby after many years of trying.
This is a birthday card to me from Pamelala! She sends me a digital art piece like this every year. Perhaps I should make them into a deck. 😉

Another Post on Various and Sundry

It was very interesting to scan this visual journaling image, because I wanted it to be big so you could see it. I scanned the entire page (from my journal) at 600 dpi and that was too big! It was interesting, however, because I could see the strokes of my pen and that was cool to look at. I rescanned at 150 and that is ok. I don’t want you reading my ruminations until I am dead, so I cut all the writing out. 😉

So, this is the second visual journaling exercise I have done and I am pretty pleased with the pillow on the chair. I think I was able to look at the little scene better. I also think the perspective is a bit better (but still needs a lot of work) and that I was able to cut out some of the extraneous stuff – you don’t have to draw it all – in order to keep the drawing from being cluttered. Onward!

Nobody really noticed the new look of the blog around the New Year. I had been thinking for a time that I needed a new, cleaner look. The opportunity presented itself when I copied something in the template and, then, proceeded to paste over the entire blog code. To add whipped cream to the cake, I, THEN, saved. What a total big DUH! I like the new look, but it is very hard to read on my laptop. I was pleased to see it on my desktop, because I was worried that you, dear readers, would not be able to see the links.

Well, stupidity rears its ugly head again and I had to rebuild my Blogroll. Again, my copying and pasting got out of control and poof! my sites were gone. The worst part was that I didn’t even notice right away. Most are back, but I will have to add the others back in as time passes.

I sewed some more corners to Pineapples and made two baby blankets, but other than that no sewing has occurred. I am going to a retreat next weekend, so afterwards there should be plenty to talk about. I am planning to make the Chocolate Box blocks then. I need a treat that it will be a good opportunity to bang those out. If I have time, I will cut some of the center squares and strips so I can hit the ground running, so to speak.

Friend Julie suggested that I bring the Pineapples to see if anyone there had any brilliant ideas for fixing my problems. I will do that and we will see. Remaking them is looking more and more like the possibility. That does mean, probably, another year of work, though. We’ll see what the gang says next weekend.

The organizers want people to bring something to share: book, technique, etc. I am planning to bring my Tsukineko ink CD to at least watch, if not to share with others. I think I will also bring my Painted Quilt book, which is a feast for the eyes. I got it from Powell’s with a gift certificate I received for Christmas.
Review to follow!

So, Shoot Me

I was reading some “back issues” of Mark Lipinski’s new blog, Pickle Road and saw this little nugget form him. He is absolutely right. I have been talking about visual journal and I just need to do it. I am also going to try to LOOK at things better. Perhaps the mess in my laundry room will become great art!


You know, dumplings, we don’t live in a vacuum. If you want to be inspired and want to grow in your quilting or crafting hobby, it’s important that you venture outside of your comfort zone, away from your guilds and sewing groups, to explore what the masters have accomplished before you. Trust me, taking yourself on mini-trips like mine to the little but mighty Allentown Museum can bring you more soul and quilting satisfaction than you might guess!

Make a deal with yourself in 2008 to try my Divine Experiment and to push yourself creatively by experiencing new artistic venues — like museums, concerts, library visits, anything you wouldn’t normally do during the course of a week — to watch the magic happen in your life!

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