Friday, February 26, 2010

February Ends

I came to an artistic epiphany this past week.

I know I mentioned in an earlier post about being good enough. That's always been the one thing that's held me back; I'm so very critical of my own work. For me, being objective on my own work is really hard. I expect perfection, even when I know there's no way to achieve it. I was working on a baby quilt this last week, and while machine quilting I did notice that my quilting wasn't straight on the top, and that the back had a few places where the fabric bunched up a bit. I looked at it, trying to decide if I should take it out, and telling myself, "See, this is why you shouldn't be quilting." Then it hit me. This is a baby quilt. It's for a baby. I made it to be used, and I hope it's used often. It's going to be thrown on the floor, in the car, thrown up on, and washed a bazillion times. The infant this quilt is for won't care that the stitching isn't perfect, that not all the blocks match exactly. It's bright and fun on one side, and soft and cuddly on the other.

The most startling thing, however, was the realization that I will never get any better if I don't practice. And not just the quilting. Everything I do. In order to get good, I have to work at it. Thinking about it won't make me a better artist. I need to create art!

Now a lot of you are saying, "Well, duh!", but for me this really is a big deal. Actually, not just for me. I was talking to a friend the next day, and she was telling me about the quilt she was working on the past weekend. She said she was in tears, just frustrated because it wasn't good enough. I smiled, and told her my story. I think she understood. I hope she did. She did agree with me, so perhaps she does understand.

Well, I'm now buzzing with artistic endeavors! I'm furiously working on a piece that has to be in the offices of a magazine on March 8. I don't know that it will get done, especially since I haven't even cut the fabric yet! Fortunately, it's only 12" square, and pretty simple, so there's a possibility it will get done. And then there's another piece that has to be mailed before the end of March. I should have that one done, as it too is not too complicated, and is only 16" square. If I don't get either of those done for their respective Calls, I can always enter them into my guild's show in May.

Right now, I have 21 Call for Entry possibilities. A couple I've actually decided not to submit to because, realistically, there just isn't time. Four of them aren't due until the beginning of 2011, so I've got big plans for those! Not all are quilts, but they all use fabric as a base. I am after all, a fiber artist. :-}

Until next time, take care.

P.S. By the way, here's the baby quilt. Today is her last day at work before going on leave, and the shower was at lunch. She loved it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rob Appell's Quick Fused Seascape

On Saturday, March 13, Rob Appell taught his Quick Fuse Seascape class for our guild. He was absolutely charming! He wore a military vest that he'd made over to hold all his quilting supplies. It was too cool! He started the class with about an hour lecture on perspective, placement of elements, and the "rule of thirds" (a composition "rule" in art and photography which simply states that your background should be divided into thirds (horizontally and vertically) and the important elements of your image should be placed on the four intersections of those lines). Rob doesn't follow an exact rule of thirds; his thirds are a bit distorted horizontally, as you can tell when looking at his quilts. His thirds are more of a small, medium and large format. He also did a quick lesson on working with the fusible. With that information in hand, he let us loose to create our "canvas." He brought several bolts of fabric with him, as well as several containers of 1/2 yards and fat quarters that we could purchase. I think everyone bought something! I know I spent more than I intended! The fabrics he brought were wonderful, and I really didn't have enough fish! While we were working, he made a point to come around to each of us and be sure our questions were answered. For many of us, the first question was "Do these three fabrics work together?" LOL! We sewed our canvas, then put our sewing machines away! Here's mine:

I'm actually doing mine rather small, around 20" square. I really didn't want another large quilt started that I probably wouldn't finish. I already have plans to make this into a tote! After lunch, we started fusing and fussy cutting out our elements. Several of us exchanged elements. I really wanted a turtle, and I had a lionfish Darla liked, so we traded! It was great fun!

Halfway through the afternoon, he did another demonstration on creating an ocean floor, and how we could use a batik to create coral reefs and the underwater portions of our islands. He then talked about the threads and needles he uses, different types of fusibles, how he does his quilting, and some of the tools he likes.

By the end of the day, I was hoping to have a finished piece, but of course I didn't. It really takes much longer than it appears. I have my canvas sewn, my island and ocean floor done, and just a few fish and elements ready to place.

I have more work to do. But this will have to be put on a back burner for a couple months, as there are some Calls for Entry I want to get done. I will finish this by summer, and then I'll have a wonderful ocean tote to carry around the Long Beach Quilt Festival!

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

January BJP, Rob Appell, and Reigniting the Passion

Had the flu last week, so, naturally, nothing got done! I did make some progress on my January Bead Journal piece this week. I'm not sure that I'm happy with it; but, I'm trying really hard not to get analytical and/or critical of what I'm doing. I stopped at this point because I found myself analyzing what I had done and considered tearing it out! I was also not really sure where I wanted to go next. Once my left brain kicked in, it was time to put down the needle! LOL!

Rob Appell was guest speaker at our quilt guild meeting last Thursday. He was fabulous; funny, witty, inspirational, and informative. His quilts are beautiful, and I love his Endangered Species patterns. The Bengal Tiger is awesome, and I really like the Macaw, but I absolutely fell in love with the Red Wolf. I absolutely had to have that pattern. He taught his Quick Fuse Seascape class yesterday. I'll post later and let you know how it all went.

This past week I did get a couple of things done. I finished the last two promised items for online trades, which are now very late. The first is a small handbag in black and white.

My sewing machine started choking on thread a couple weeks ago, so I actually ended up doing the entire piece by hand. It's been so long since I've done that kind of handwork that I had forgotten how much I love it! Its dimensions are 6"H x 9"W x 2.5"D. It's hand-quilted, and the handles consist of an embroidered and beaded organza lace sewn on top of webbing. (No, I didn't do the embroidery/beading on the lace.)

The other project I finished was a set of four Shashiko embroidered coasters. They're 4" square, and also completely hand-sewn. I love Shashiko embroidery, and these were a lot of fun to do.

Both of these projects got mailed yesterday! They will also be the last online trades I do for a while. I have a couple of ideas for making a living creatively and I need to focus my attention on them. I want to see if I can get out of the 9 to 5-commuting-business doldrums. I would love to make my living with my own business, doing something fun and creative, and it's time. I've been bouncing the ideas around in my head for several years now, but never felt I was really good enough. But you know what? I am. Something Rob said Thursday really hit home, and it's time to get started. The passion I used to feel for sewing, fabric and needlework had left me for a long time. I thought the fire had died, but there's still a spark. I can feel it. It's time to feed that spark until it burns brighter than it ever had!

More on that later. I've still got quite a few projects going, and even while working on my aforementioned new business, I'll be doing other projects, mostly to work out ideas to incorporate. I've acquired a lot of skills over the years, but there's always something new to learn and share!

Until next time, take care.