Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is Limited Thinking Holding You Back?

I love serendipity. I have begun making some of my fiber masks into clay when Tom asked if I wanted to join him in the Clay Space gallery in September. Tom is a photographer who specializes in photographs of Civil War reenactments. His thinking was he would share his pottery and photographs and I could share my quilts and pottery. Perfect! Plus I had time to create pieces that I would be proud to display.

One of my frustrations with clay has been the unpredictable and somewhat limiting nature of the glazes. I went looking for other things that I could use and came across Baroque Art's Gilders Paste which reminds me of shoe polish. (It says it can be used on fabric too!) I had not finished the female Buddha mask when I went to class (ran out of time) so I brought her along and the three paste colors I had purchased. I was surprised that the veteran hand builder did not know about the paste. I was not surprised that none of the students in my class had any interest. So yesterday when I was working on the mask and still feeling that she needed something, I realized that my limited thinking was holding me back. I do not need to stick with glazes and I can certainly use my arsenal of supplies to alter my pieces anyway that I can! I glued the bead and fiber jewel to her forehead and used dimensional paint below her eyes. I was so much happier. I am not going to let my limited thinking ever happen again. I want to explore and push the limits. I want to be fearless!

Details: This is my interpretation of the female Buddha which I learned about while in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan use to be a predominately Buddhist country before the Soviets took over. Now it is predominately Muslim, but the woman who taught me was an atheist. Isn't life interesting? Anyway, the fiber mask is 8" w x 12" h and the clay mask is 7.5" w x 11.5" h.

When have you overcome limited thinking?

I have decided to make this my Off the Wall Fridays post. Thanks Nina-Marie for the option to choose any of our posts for the week!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Is Art? Why Do We Create?

All art is quite useless. - Oscar Wilde

I have been trying to think of ways to combine my love affairs with clay, fiber and paper.  This is my first attempt at combining clay and paper. It's not quite finished. I want to do come more work on the book and the bird needs to be reglazed because there are places where the glaze did not adhere which happens.

It's always interesting when people who create ask me, "What are you going to do with it?"  Tom who makes these incredible organic forms out of clay could not wrap his head around this book which was such a surprise to me. 

I do want people to get what I make especially in a place where people are being creative. It doesn't mean you have to like it.

Why do we create? And more importantly why should we make art? Is it "art for art's sake" or should it perform a specific function? I'm definitely more in the first camp but also believe art can perform a specific function like reflect a truth, work to unify us or in the very least decorate a room. I don't believe that having to make money from art devalues it either as I have heard so often expressed in galleries at openings. 

Is it important for people to understand or at least appreciate what we do? I have lived my entire life with people who don't get, understand what I do or even like what I do. It use to be painful. It is far less so now.  I think, in part, it is finding people who love what I do and I have grown old enough not to internalize the negative opinions anymore. I cannot stop what I am doing. I cannot go long without creating something or I feel a strong disconnect.

Where do you stand?

Sidebar: Having some writing in the book was something I wanted. Although none of the writing is easily readable by design.  In looking for quotes, I came across a great one by Willie Nelson, " The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Love it! Hope it makes you chuckle like it did me and, of course, it's in the book!

Friday, February 22, 2013

To Risk and "Be"

The realization today was the downward pull of winter. While I did not mind shoveling the wet and heavy two-inches of snow that fell last night, it did not help my mood. I really had intended to clean the paper work area of my office, but the small containers of bits started calling to me. At first, it was dosed with a large amount of guilt. Am I becoming the person with bits too small to use? To brighten my mood, I decided to make a small collage ( 6 x 4.5 inches) only using things I had in one of my containers of small bits. The background is from a card made by Marianne Hammett of Chicago. The silk piece was applied to the card so crooked that it made me crazy and I could never mail it to anyone. I think I did a good job of camouflaging the crookedness by adding the wave trim and cutting the card.   I don't know what she uses but I also discovered almost nothing sticks to the silk! So efforts to change it failed although if you look closely you can see some stamping that I attempted. I do like the way I was able to change the white around the silk. The image of the woman is from a card my friend Marie Z. Johansen created and has sent me several times. Love it! I added the cherry blossom to her forehead and her "halo." I will gladly gift "BE" to Marie if she would like to have it. The words are reminders to myself and were left over from test prints for my 12-12-12 quilt.

This does show me, once again, that sometimes a limited palette works and what is needed to create. Too many choices can be just as bad as too few. Of course, it did not make much of a dent in my small bits, but it did brighten my mood.

While working on this piece, my mind went back to several conversations I have had this week on risk. I listened to one friend give a list of endless excuses of why she cannot be creative and so much of it was fear-based. Does trying new things take courage?  Is trying and failing such a bad thing? I frequently ask people who are afraid of risk, "What is the biggest chance you have ever taken?" I realize that getting on a plane and traveling to an unknown place a third of the world away is foreign to most people. But something is lost in our obsessive concern for safety and security--the spirit of adventure. Life is a gamble in which we don't get to deal the cards, but we are obligated to play them to the best of our ability. None of us gets out alive. I would much rather take a risk and fail then to simply be safe.  On the flip side, I have reconnected with former student and friend Diane Fisher. She has asked me to help her guild be more creative/adventuresome. I am so honored and excited! So what is the biggest chance you have ever taken?

And I'm making this my Off the Wall Fridays post. We all have to support each other!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lovin' Every Inch!

I realize that I am probably the last person in the world to make inchies (1-inch x 1-inch pieces of art). All I can say is, "What took me so long!" Inchies are fun. I have the heARTist Trading Cards group to thank. We will be trading them. This time there is no theme which in some ways made it easier and in other ways more difficult. However, once I got going, it was nearly impossible to stop. Something like the potato chips I ate last night. I can once again share that trading art is a great way to explore and have fun. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to creating more. Have you made inchies? What do you like about them--making? trading?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Things We Do For Love and Balance In Our Lives

How do you say "thank you" for sunshine or health...for clear days or gentle rains...for happiness, joy or love? You say it by sharing what you have. You say it by making the world a better place in which to live. 
-Thomas D. Willhite

I decided to make my friend Carolyn who is going through some tough times a lap quilt for her birthday. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and loves patriotic things. I found a panel with images and decided to build a scrap quilt (why have just a little when you can have lots!) around them. Of course, I also decided not to have the blocks be in a straight row. I thought it might be more interesting. I am not sure I will have it done in time (February 27), but I am going to try. The good thing about adults is they don't mind celebrating more than once (having late gifts). For me, it is also important to find that balance between creating something for someone that is certainly not me and something that I can do with love and not feel burdened.

I have also started watching my grandson Tyler on Wednesday afternoons so his mom have a nap/relax. My son is gone from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesdays for law school so she needs a break. I want Tyler and me to be close so I cherish the time I have with him. Friends are worried I'll become a full-time babysitter when Sang returns to work, but I have promised myself that this will not happen. I have waited most of my life to have time to play, explore, push myself artistically and create.  If I do not do it now, it may not ever happen. Balance. Something I have worked on attaining my whole life and I really think I am making progress!

I was feeling a little down over the weekend with lots of thoughts of "why bother" until I read my Sunday horoscope.  It said, "Remember your dreams and go for them. Break through those self-imposed limitations on what you think you're capable of. Increasing your work skills helps. Play full out but within budget." While I don't put much stock in Chicago Tribune's horoscopes, it was a message I needed to hear. Okay, I didn't like the budget part but that's true too! The universe has spoken and I am going to try my best to listen. What is the universe telling you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Look to the Sky and Blossom

 My new Artist Trading  Card group, heARTist Trading Cards, with my talented friend Marie Z. Johansen, is up and running. I am thrilled! Linda Edkins Wyatt and Patty Van-Huis Cox are wonderful artists whom I have traded with in the past. Penny Stuart has also joined us, I love her enthusiasm and look forward to getting to know her.  Our first trade is the theme "Sky." I decided to try my hand at creating something that had movement and if you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I love crows and quotes. I thought the Bob Dylan quote, "No one is free, even birds are chained to the sky," worked well. I can't wait to see what everyone else creates.

There is one opening in the group. We plan to keep the group at a maximum of 6 so that we can make great cards and not feel like we are having to mass produce. Let me know if you are interested.

Creating artist trading cards are a great way to explore and try new things. I also love being in communities that are supportive. You learn a lot about yourself. Marie likes to tease me that I am only feel good when I am ahead of the game which I have come to realize is true. And yet, I still consider myself a procrastinator. I view life as a continuous learning experience.

What calls us to create? Each calling is unique. No one responds to life the way you do. Emerson wrote, "To believe your own thoughts, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men--that is genius." Did you know "genius" come for the Latin meaning "in the spirit of a place"?  And as Ian Roberts said, "We give voice to how our spirit blossoms in the face of something that moves us." Here is to your spirit blossoming today.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jeu de lettres or Playing with Letters

In an effort to get control of all these little bits of paper in my life, I came across this wonderful quote by Gerard Charriere, a Swiss-Trained Typographer and Book Artist.

If you choose a delicate typeface, don't put something with it that will overwhelm; it is a marriage. You can play with letters until they become part of the design. I like them to be very clear, with lots of space, each letter to make a statement. Sometimes I call my work 'Je de lettres" or playing with letters. I arrange them so that each one stands on its own, like in a bunch of flowers, yet never overcrowding. It is a balance. I see it when it works.

On the same piece of paper, I wrote "Pick a letter, set the timer, cut out letters from magazines, quickly arrange." I picked the letter "T," but started seeing some interesting "J's" so they got included too. The entire exercise took an hour. You can find it on the second to last page of one of my art journals. I am sure I will play with it some more because that is what I do.  It was a fun way to jump start my creativity today. What do you do to jump start your creativity?

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Love Affair- Not Quite Yet

Detail of Joomchi lace
I love learning about other cultures and like my travels, ignorance often provides incredible discoveries. I think if I had really read through the directions with the mind of determining just how much time I would spend passing a wet ball of paper between my hands and squeezing, I might just have run the other way. Creating joomchi is labor intensive. I do not like my first piece (third photo). I did learn a lot. With my second attempt, I made joomchi lace (two layers of mulberry paper-yellow for the base and purple on top). Now this I like, but when I tell you that it took more than five hours to create, do you think I am crazy? This could also be the reason that this traditional way of making paper is a dying art in Korea. Who has the time?  I wish I could hand it to you so you could hold the piece up to the light and see all the tiny holes. It's quite beautiful.

Hanji, Korean mulberry paper, is amazingly strong and the joomchi process makes it even stronger. "It's like life," says joomchi artist Jiyong Chung, "Through hardships we become stronger, as the paper does. In the process of breaking down and forming new bonds, the paper becomes stronger."  I definitely think that my hands and forearms are going it get stronger. Tomorrow may prove to be a difficult pottery day. I hope not. I can't say that I have a love affair with joomchi, but I'm not done yet. I want to try drawing on the paper, dyeing the paper, and stitching on the paper using the joomchi process.

So I'm connecting once again with Nina-Marie and her Off the Wall Fridays. She considers me a mixed media artist and I don't think I can disagree. There are just too many wonderful things to play with and explore. When you see a butterfly at rest, perched on a flower, spreading its wings, it is said to be "basking," pausing to gather energy for future movement. For me, trying something new that has nothing to do with my chosen media, quilting, helps me restore my energy. It makes me itchy to get back to it. How do you bask in your life?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do you Joomchi?

I first became aware of Joomchi, a traditional Korean paper technique, and Jiyoung Chung's work using the process in 2008. I loved the organic nature of her work. I was a papermaker in one of my past lives.  I tried finding out more about this traditional Korean paper technique but there simply wasn't much out there and certainly no directions on how to make it. I could not afford to travel for one of Jiyoung's workshops so when she shared that she was going to write a book,  I waiting patiently for its release.  I've actually owned Joomchi and Beyond for months. Today I decided to give it a try. Here is my beginning. I can tell you that joomchi takes patience. Jiyoung shares in book, "Stage 1 is the most difficult to agitate as teh papers reist breaking down and bonding, but it gets easier and easier, just like dealing with hardships in life." Guess that is my lesson for the day.

I decided to try "painterly joomchi" and to add to the challenge, I am using handmade Japanese paper, mulberry tissue paper purchased at World Market, unknown fiber content paper and regular tissue paper. I want to see what works and what doesn't. I have no illusions that this will turn out as a masterpiece instead I am embracing the learning process and being excited about trying something new.

I also want to thank my daughter-in-law's father, Mr. Lee, for the incredible gift of Korean mulberry paper (base of my piece) handmade by a master Korean papermaker. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have this wonderful connection to Korea. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have the dried piece to share with you. So on this Valentine's Day, what did you heart desire to do?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Yin and Yang of Life

Last night I finished the heart book. The cover is a block I created in the early 1990s so this book has cleared two UFOs from my list! And while the book is far from perfect, I love the feel of it.  Also I do hope that the friends who contributed to it are pleased. It feels good to finally fully honor the gifts.

On the flip-side, last night I also heard that my crone mask was not one of the 38 pieces selected for the Metaphors on Aging SAQA exhibit. I am sad. I will get over it. I would love for this mask to make it out into the world and hopefully one day it will. I am 50-50 for entering SAQA's shows. I have no idea what other people have experienced so I don't know how typical I am. I can't imagine my life without the quilt world but I've never been entirely comfortable in it.

I always admire those who are always so confident and those who are "at the top." I have come to realize that I will never be one of those at the top. I like what I do. I love trying new things and exploring. I love a challenge. I love teaching. I love sharing. So I'll be disappointed for a while but it won't stop me. Onward.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Book Unfolds and an Invitation

Block by Marti Porterfield
 I am excited! The heart block exchange book is coming together nicely.  Making the blocks into a book has solved so many problems plus it gives me an opportunity to showcase each block/maker. I decided to include quotes on friendship and love and the quotes reflect the theme of the block and/or the maker.  Still working on the quotes. I hope to have the book completed by Valentine's Day. How's that for a goal!

Block by Debbie Garffon
Now don't laugh but I am really excited because I did make a real dent in my bits and pieces of Timetex, Fast-to-Fuse, etc.! I have a running joke about this with my friend Barbara so I can't wait to share this news with her. I also managed to use up all the little bits of my Steam-A-Seam! I find this truly amazing!  Okay, you can laugh just remember it is the little things in life that make life fun and interesting! Of course, as I continue to work on the book, I am sure I will be creating more bits.

Block by Rebecca Terry
Now for an invitation, I am starting a monthly ATC trading group. If you are interested, there is a limited number of spots available. I'm keeping the group small so that everyone does not need to make a lot of cards each month. I have fallen head over heals in love with trading ATCs. It is such a great way to explore new ideas and techniques in a wonderful, caring environment. And it makes trips to the mailbox very worthwhile.

Happy creating! Is anyone else working on completing UFOs?

Monday, February 11, 2013

You are Where You are Suppose to Be

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. - Eckart Tolle

There was whining at the pottery studio on Saturday. Lots of people comparing their work to others with more experience. "I'm never going to be any good," seemed to be the mantra of the day until Ronda said, "But you're where your suppose to be and that is what you should embrace." It stopped people dead in their tracks. What a wise young woman.

So speaking of where I am suppose to be, I decided to get out my heart blocks made from friends when I lived in Houston in honor of Valentine's Day. These were made in 1999. I never could figure out how to make them work as a wall hanging. Today when I put them up on my design wall the idea of turning them into a book popped into my head. Problem solved. I know this is something that never would have occurred to me in 1999. Rejoice! Now to have some fun putting them together.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Dancing!

 Done! And in time for the Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. It feels good to have a UFO completed. My hope is finish one UFO a month this year. Of course, I have not checked to see how many UFOs I have so I guess that will need to be the next step. It feels good to have focus and a plan for the year. This also helps as winter seems to have finally arrived making spring seem far away.

I also posted on the Ideas of Inspiration's blog.  This month's prompt is "things that you love" in honor of Valentine's Day.  I chose "found objects" even though my list of things that I love is quite long.

"It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it only matters that you love." -John Lennon

So here is to finishing and love! It is a great day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thoughts on Words and Art Journals

I am a lover of words especially in my artwork. When my art journal was returned from the first round of our exchange, I realized how different my approach is to an art journal. I use mine to record not just images/art, but words, quotes, thoughts, lists, clippings from magazines, etc. Please don't misunderstand, I sincerely believe there is not right or wrong way to create an art journal. I think of the writing in my journal to be art.

In mine, you will find "sy did glad" which is Danish for sew yourself happy. Which happens to be Lone Schaadt's blog/website name. Isn't it wonderful in every way?

Then there are words that people use that are regional or family words, etc.  "Comeapart" is one of them. Spoken by Jane Burch Cochran and said in her wonderful Kentucky accent and used to describe someone not coping well. Haven't we all had moments of "comeapart."

I am thrilled with the pages that have been created by my partners in this journey-- Helen Lindton and Louise Kirby.

 Helen took on the challenge to improve her drawing. She makes amazing cloth dolls. She also included a quote in my journal so she picked up my love of quotes! "Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

Louise also included words- "Encourage each other to bloom."

I can't wait for the next round. I keep dreaming of things I would like to do in their journals and can't wait to see what they do in mine! I am so glad I took advantage of this opportunity. I haven't done a round robin exchange in a long time.

I have had very mixed experiences with round robins. One of my favorites was a cloth doll exchange even with the disappearance of my handmade book that accompanied it. One of my least favorites was a collage exchange. I kept it in a closet for years until one day I recycled it. Still didn't regret the experience.  Do you like to collaborate?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jump Starting Creativity

 One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. - Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

It's always interesting how questions come to me in groups. The last couple of days I've been asked by several people how to get going. My advice:

1. Keep it simple.
2.  Get in a habit of making art. Make creativity a part of your daily routine.
3. It doesn't need to be a huge chunk of time. 10-15 minutes can make a huge impact.

I remember when Jette Clover decided to make simple collages with things she had on hand. She limited herself to a 3" x 5" index card. She made a commitment to set aside at least 10 minutes a day. She did this every day for a year.  This strategy helped her to be successful.

In 1990, Nancy Halpern decided to create a visual record of her daily events which resulted in a 138" h x 72" w quilt. Her rules were simple: "Wait until the day has begun to take share before starting the block. Finish the block by the end of the day (even if it's during the wee hours of the morning). And never work ahead." She joined her blocks vertically and each month has a row which makes the bottom of the quilt have an interesting shape. Some of the blocks were intricate and others simple. She did create an airplane template depicting westbound flights that could be flipped over to head east. A different template depicted north- and southbound flights This quilt went on to inspire lots of quiltmakers to create their own journal quilts. Actually, it still does. (The only place I have ever seen an image of the quilt was in Threads magazine's April May 1997 issue.)

I like to create and send handmade greeting cards. When I began, I tried to create masterpieces and definitely over thought the process, but with practice, I now just go with the flow, keep it simple and have fun. There is something about creating something and sending it out into the world that definitely jump starts my creative juices. How do you jump start your creativity? Are you doing something every day?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Some Goals Make You Go Around in Circles

Michele, on her blog, is sharing her progress on reducing her stash and be productive. I love her "stolen" idea of having 2,013 items leave her house in 2013. I also love how honest she is being. It's inspiring.

I too have decided that I must deal with my UFOs once and for all. I will either finish them or give them away this year. I also need to decide what to do with the closets that are filled with quilts, but not sure this will happen this year. I did throw a quilt away! I took off some of the elements before pitching it. It was actually quite liberating! And before you get upset with me like my friend Carolyn, it was a small wall hanging made in the 1990s and believe me no one would want it. I did the world a favor.

This circle shaped quilt (36") was made when I was teaching one of my creativity circles. I still miss the women in these groups. Watching them grow was one of my best teaching experiences. For this assignment, we made circle quilts, cut them into wedges and everyone had to put the wedges together in any way that they wanted. I just couldn't bring myself to cut up this one, so I didn't, much to the disappointment of my group. I did make something similar to cut up so the disappointment was only temporary. Anyway, it's long past due to finish it. And to answer the next most asked question that I get, I have no idea what I will do with it once it's done. I am finding that quilting a circle shaped quilt is a challenge and I'm up for it!

Catching the cold that morphed into a sinus infection was not in the planes and certainly caused my January to go awry, but looking at what I did accomplish made me feel much better. Do you keep a list of your accomplishments?


1. Booked two guild gigs
2. Entered SAQA's "Metaphors on Aging" exhibit
3. Completed and sent in everything for Teacher of the Year
4. Completed biz books for 2012 and started 2013

Putting Stretch Marks on My Comfort Zone

1. Participated in Shannon Ganshorn's International Postcard Exchange
2. Joined the Journal Swap through Milliande
3. Continued my journey with pottery

Christmas Gifts

1. Made 5 table runners (completed 4, one had to have binding hand stitched down)
2. Made 2 sets of cards

Things that Bothered Me But Don't Anymore Because I Took Care of Them (well almost)

1. Painted places on my oven door where paint had chipped off
2. Deep cleaned my studio
3. Cleaned my office (needs it done again so this will show up until I get it under control--one must have goals! I aspire to be a person with a clean and organized desk.)
4. Cleaned out books from bathroom cabinet--sold some, gave some to friends and gave the rest to my library
5. New shower caddy
6. New broom


Made 23 birthday cards, 4 anniversary cards, 20 Valentines 

Life is good!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Louise's Journal and Reflections on Life

 Louise Kirby's theme for her journal is "nature studies." We were suppose to right about ourselves so I created a little book (first image) which I added to the beginning of her journal. Next I worked on a few pages. I decided not to finish anything (a recommendation of the organizer of the journal exchange). However, I loved the idea of creating something that connected to another page of the journal. I also wanted to play with words and finally after making lots and lots of lists decided on "grow" and "flow." This was so much fun and just what I needed. Jan's death has shook me up more than I realized. I keep thinking about all the things I wanted to share with her and didn't have the chance. When these things happen, I always look at them as a wake-up call. It makes me reflect on whether or not I am living authentically, doing all that I can to fulfill my potential, both for myself and for the world, am I having enough fun. These were my thoughts as I worked on Louise's journal. Hope she enjoys the pages as much as I enjoyed creating them. And while this is not Friday, Nina-Marie Sayre kindly gives us until Sunday to share in her Off the Wall Fridays challenge. Also if you want to see more of the journals, check out our blog The Sisterhood of the Traveling Journals. My journal is on its way and I can't wait to see it!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Creativity Lesson 6- Spirit Dolls

“Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see.” Paul Klee

“Life is without meaning, we bring meaning to it.” Joseph Campbell

 Making cloth dolls has always been a fun and different way to play with fiber. If you've never made a cloth doll, now is the time to start! Keep it simple. Have fun!

Assignment #6 – Spirit Doll

In this assignment, we will make “spirit” dolls.  Does your doll have wild hair? Colorful clothes? A special name? Remember to have fun and have her reflect your spirit (could it be your secret one?)! Is she made of paper or cloth?  

If you would like a simple pattern for a doll, just email me and I'll send one along. Just note, it doesn't have a face which you have to provide.

Happy creating! 

On a more personal note. Today I learned that my friend Jan Hawley died in her sleep on January 17. It was such a shock. I remember when there were three of us on the Alliance for American Quilts board who celebrated a milestone birthday (50th) together in Louisville, Kentucky. Pat recently and unexpectedly lost her husband. Makes me pause and count my blessings. It also reminds me that life is short and unexpected things can happen so I have to make the most of it. Join me in celebrating all the good things in life.