Thursday, September 27, 2012

What September Means to Me

Ideas of Inspiration's is a blog that uses images to express a theme. This month we are to share images that show what September means to us. Most people are posting photos of changing leaves and while that is true, it doesn't work for me and yet I can't come up with an image that really works for me. More than ten years ago, I decided that September would be the month that I would put stretch marks on my comfort zone. In other words, I would do at least one thing that made me uncomfortable. Why September? Partly it has to do with the seasonal change and my struggle with seasonal depression caused by Chicago's long, grey winters. I feel the downward pull starting in September. On a more positive note, my first child was born on September 27th and my world was never the same.

My first trip to Georgia (country not state) happened in September and I returned each September  three more times. I hope to go again next September. This year I've taken up pottery. I'm learning to be gentle with myself. Not only are the classes on Monday nights a challenge but I'm making myself go to open studio where all the world can see how clumsy I am. Yesterday I went alone (Barbara had to work.). I discovered that the room was filled with people who had mastered the art of throwing clay. The person with the least experience had been doing it four years. You could hear a pin drop it was so silent with everyone focused on their tasks, but curiosity has always gotten the best of me so I started asking questions and before I knew it, I had a room full of new friends who were actually sad to see me leave. I also want to share that I successfully centered and threw three pots in 1-1/4 hours!  This was after not even being able to center any clay on Monday night and leaving class feeling quite defeated. Now I am not saying that they are good pots, but they are pots! I plan to stick with it until I can successfully throw a pot consistently. I may hang it up at that point or continue. I'm being open. While I love pottery, I'm not sure I'll ever be a great one, but that's truly not the point. I'm not seeking perfection.

The photo is from Georgia. We were walking down a street when I saw the chair and stopped to puzzle why. It took a while for my friends to realize I was no longer with them. Can you guess? It's a basketball hoop! I can't tell you how excited I was to figure it out. So in many ways, I think this photograph does a good job showing you want September means to me. What does September mean to you? How do you put stretch marks on your comfort zone?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm Not Crazy Exhibit

Sue Reno, juror of I'm Not Crazy, kindly took photographs of the exhibit while it was at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, in Oaks, Pennsylvania from September 13-16.

Here is what Sue shared, " was able to attend the show at PNQE and see the exhibit.  It was absolutely wonderful to view it in person!  I was already very familiar with the imagery, but I gained a new appreciation for each piece as I was able to see all the textures and details up close and personal.  I was very moved by the individual and collection emotive power that these quilts and their stories evoked.

I spent some time speaking with some of the people who were viewing the exhibit as I was there, and their comments were universally appreciative and complimentary.

About the setup--this PNQE venue, the Expo Center, is not one of my favorites.  It's a generic cavernous barn of a building that is starting to show its age.  That being said, the show is well arranged and well run within it, it draws a lot of attendees, and the I'm Not Crazy exhibit had a nice piece of real estate. The lighting is often problematic at this type of show, but this exhibit was positioned under a row of lights that were adequate.  The staging was generous, with enough room around each quilt to view it without distraction.

They are not great pictures, as the black drapes, shiny signs, and lighting made photography a bit problematic, but I know how much fun it is to see your quilt actually at a show so I have shared them regardless.  You are all welcome and you have my permission to use them in your own blogs and publicity efforts. "

I actually think the photo is not pretty good. Feedback has been positive and a catalog is underway.

Here is feedback from one of the participant's (Judy Kirpich) brother that I found quite touching, "I recently attend a showing of I'm Not Crazy. My sister's work had been entered and hers was chosen. The piece by Judy Kirpich was about her experience with her brother during a particularly bad case of depression. This is where I come into the story as I am proudly her brother. The show besides the fact that my sisters work was in it, more importantly was an amazing learning experience. Suffering from sever depression over the last 35 years It went straight to the center of my soul. These artists understood the predicament of depression and it could be seen and understood through a work of art that was now embedded in my memory. The powerful magic of this show should be shared with others that need the healing that comes with the viewing of these masterpieces."

If you have not had a chance to see the quilts, please do. It is an interesting collection of quilts. I hope I get the chance to see the exhibition in person. Next stop is Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, October 11-14. If you happen to go, please take pictures for me and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Circle is a Line That Went for a Dance

I've been playing with my backup machine to get a feel for it. Paul Klee's quote, "A line is a dot that went for a walk," popped in my head as I was playing with creating straight lines.  And now I've added my own quote to his, "A circle is a line that went for a dance." I think this might actually end up as a small quilt. It was fun to play both with my machine and in my head.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


My husband sent me this great John Lennon quote this morning. When I was in third grade my teacher, Mrs. Sanders, asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said that I couldn't decide between being an artist or the person who named paint colors. I went further by saying that maybe I could do one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I'll never forget the look on her face when she said, "Karen, you have no talent and besides we already have a great artist in our class, Guy. I think you would be better suited to be a secretary or a mother." I remember being so proud of myself for not crying then and there. I actually made it until after the lights were out then I buried myself under the covers and cried my heart out. This happened again when after high school I wanted to go to art school and my parents would not agree. I have battled but I've never given up, at least not for long.  "Happy" is doing what you love (and a functioning sewing machine in my case). Be kind to yourself and others.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pear as a Shape and Dealing with No Sewing Machine

I feel lost without my sewing machine so I am trying to stay busy. The challenge this month for Arts in the Cards is to create ATCs on the theme of "Pear is a Color." I decided to take the challenge one step further and do "Pear as a Shape" and create a cardboard pear similar to my cardboard apples. Tim Holtz had the perfect papers to use and I continued my love of topography by adding words. Now I have two apples and a pear for my table. I've been collecting acorns from my Pin oak tree so I think I'll have a perfect fall display for my table. Tonight is my pottery class and hopefully today my new backup sewing machine will arrive so I can get busy with all the ideas floating around in my head. Hope the learning curve on the new machine isn't a big one.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quilts in the Attic on Sale

Connecting Threads has my book, Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Stories of the Quilts We Love, on sale for 40% off ($14.40) until October 22 or until supplies last. I've never seen my book at this price.  You'll find other wonderful things like long staple cotton thread and batiks at a great price. Oh, and free shipping for orders $50 or more.  No personal interest, just a satisfied customer and I was thrilled when they decided to sell my book since they usually sell how-to books.

Since I do not have my sewing machine, it's off to clean my studio and take this opportunity to clean, clean out and reorganize.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Panic and Something New

I dropped my sewing machine off today to get what I am calling "an attitude adjustment." The tension is off so it simply isn't sewing well. I've put this off as long as I could. I am feeling the loss already as several ideas popped into my head. And no, I don't have a back up. I think the only thing that might save me as I wait 2-3 weeks for my machine to be returned to me is the ceramic's class that I am taking with my friend Barbara. We had our first class on Monday night. I love pottery but was never particularly good at it. Amazingly, I do have a piece that I made in high school. I lives out in my yard.  My teacher wanted us to make molds of our faces and almost everyone was scared to do it, but not me!  I lost quite a bit of my bangs which got stuck in the plaster of Paris. She didn't mix enough so the tip of my nose was not part of the mold which always bothered me. Anyway, it was interesting to be once again doing pottery. It's been a while since I have felt so awkward and uncoordinated. I think this is a good thing!  I have had to keep telling myself that this time I will be a good potter. I just need to practice and be open. The class is 10 weeks so we shall see. I did manage with the help of the teacher to make three small pots. My friend Barbara did a much better post on our experience.  Check it out and you can also see the great piece of pottery she inherited. When was the last time you did something outside your comfort zone?

No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.  ~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pear ATCs

Today has been a frustrating and sad day for me. Frustrating because my sewing machine is not working well which means no sewing machine while it gets cleaned and adjusted.  Cross your fingers that this is not the 2-3 weeks that I am being told at this time. Sad because there are still so many issues from my childhood that I still need to work through.

So when all else fails, make something. This month's Arts in the Cards theme is the color pear. I started by making a small painting, scanning it, playing with the color in Photoshop, printing it onto fabric then cutting it apart to make the ATCs. I like that each one is unique. It doesn't say "pear" so I won't be told I'm being too literal. I added lots of stitching, some beads I bought in Georgia (country not state) and the word "pear" in Korean thanks to my daughter-in-law, Sang. The satin stitching is terrible because of my sewing machine, otherwise I am pleased. Now I just have to come up with a title and put them in the mail. Title suggestions are welcomed!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Art of Soup

Yesterday I headed off to Target to get some limited edition Andy Warhol soup cans thanks to my friend Bonnie. She's the one who told me about them. It's the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol's iconic artwork-- 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. These silk-screen painting played a pivotal role in the emergence of pop art. There are four different designs. I do think they are fun and a bargain at 75 cents a can. And yes, they have real tomato soup inside. Too much fun!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Virginia Avery

I just learned that Virginia Avery died on Thursday. She would have been 100 years old on September 23. I loved her. She was a straight shooter and an amazing person. She is probably known best for her wearable arts but she made great quilts too. Her clothing was never boring. Her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly leaving her with four children to raise. She lost a son too. Yet she was always upbeat and lived life fully with lots of gusto. Whenever I would see her, she always took the time to catch up. I'll always remember her energy and her kindness.  Jinny, you will be missed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bookplates- How Hard Can It Be?

I always find it interesting how people think of the same thing at the same time. In less than two days, two people asked me if I could provide them with autographed bookplates. It's been a few years since I've owned any but I live to serve. After all, how hard could it be? I started with my independent bookstore even though they refused to carry my book. It was fun looking around trying to find some. When I had no luck, I asked one of the employees. I was a little shocked when she did not even know what I wanted let alone where to find them.  After waiting another 5 minutes for the person who might know where they would be, I headed off to Barnes and Noble. I looked around and still could not find them. The first employee hadn't a clue but the second one did. They were on top of the bookmarks! I had my choice of a world map or butterflies. I chose the butterflies. They are manufactured by Antioch in Ohio. So after spending nearly two hours searching, I now have bookplates to autograph. If you're interested, let me know. I have seven left and once they are gone, I don't think I'll be able to accommodate people again. Who would have thunk it? As my friend Bernie would say, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creativity- What Lights the Fire or Snuffs It Out?

I'm hearing from quite a few people about how they are "waiting for my muse to return" or something to that effect. I know the feeling. However, I think Pablo Picasso said it best, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." Maya Angelou also said, "You can't use up creativity--The more you use, the more you have."

For many people thinking that they are not create or in a create slump has to do with looking at what you are doing on a daily basis differently. Arranging flowers in a vase is being creative. Doodling is being creative. Look for ways that you are being creative other than making art.

Change the story you tell yourself and others. Dr. Phil calls these "tapes" because we replay the same thoughts and words in our head, focusing on the most negative aspects. Even when I am having a bad day when I am asked, "How are you?" I always reply, "Fabulous and you?" I'm amazed at the number of wonderful conversations I've had with people. I may not be able to control much in my life, but I can control how I respond.

Try making a list of all the creativity stoppers in you life. Just being aware can make a huge difference. I remember nearly snorting my coffee with Gary Reefe sent me "C.R.A.P."


These are his creativity stoppers. Thinking of them as "crap" takes away their power.

You don't have to share the assignments if you don't wish to do so. I don't have any power to make you and wouldn't want to if I did. I will tell you that part of the reason I call it a "Creativity Circle" is because this is a safe place. Sharing also helps keep you accountable. Not all the assignments will resonate with you. Do them anyway. It is especially important for you to do the ones that don't because I guarantee you will learn something. Feel the fear, do it anyway. What do you have to lose? Or more importantly, what do you have to gain?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Creativity Circle: Personal Life Tassel

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”   Mary Lou Cook

First, thank you for committing to your creativity. I know this can be a little scary, but I assure you that this will be fun!

Began teaching this course nearly fifteen years ago to my quilt students and was given opportunities to also share with artists who did not work in textiles. It worked for them too. So you can create the assignments using any medium you wish.

Step One

Please purchase a blank notebook that is at least 8-½” by 11.” Sketchbooks are great.  If you like, also purchase some colored pencils. Don't be afraid to carry it with you so you can jot down ideas, thoughts, etc.

This is how it will work.

All assignments will be presented here on the first of each month. Remember you have a month to get it done. It is important that you take the time to work on your assignments and complete them. I cannot stress this enough. I am asking that you truly commit to the journey and the people who are sharing the journey.

Julia Cameron has a contract in her book The Artist's Way. I've modified her contract and offer it to you below. I highly recommend signing such a contract and posting it on your refrigerator as a reminder to not only you but the people around you. I've had many students use this as a means to get through to their families that this is important. "I have signed a contract and need to fulfill it."

The first part of each assignment will be sharing of the previous month’s completed project you can do this on your blog or by sending me a photo. For those of you posting it on the blog, send me a link. Photos and links are due one day before the first of the month.

I will also be suggesting books for you to read. Use your library to check them out. There will also be optional field trips.

Please honor this gift. If you are not a follower of my blog, please become one. Please leave a comment if you plan to join this journey.

“Wherever you are is the entry point.” Kabir

Assignment #1 –Personal Life Tassel

In this assignment, you will create a tassel that will reflect who you are and what you love. Time to clean out your junk drawer(s). Find all the little treasures, the flotsam and jetsam of your life that you have tucked away (pins, buttons, beads, a leftover earring, keys, anything you can tie onto your tassel) and get them out! Please also think about where you would like to hang your tassel so you can see it. Remember to have fun!
9” – 12” metal or wooden ring or anything that you can hang things from (many students have used old embroidery or quilting hoops)

Ribbons, cording, and/or fabric
Specialty threads and/or yarn

Your treasures


Large-eyed needles to help you attach your items

Thread to sew items 

Have any questions, feel free to  contact me with any questions or concerns.
Creativity Contract

I, ___________________, understand that I am undertaking a guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the duration of the course. I commit myself to reading, outings and the fulfillment of each month’s tasks.

I, ___________________, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to explore and deal with. 

I, _________________, commit myself to excellent self-care- adequate sleep, diet, exercise and pampering- for the duration of the course.