My birthday is on Monday. I will be 52. I am more than half way through my life and although I have not accomplished all of my goals, I am very grateful for what I do have: a wonderful, loving, (and attractive) husband, a loving mother that is still vital, two loving, sweet , mostly well-behaved cats, a steady income in a creative environment, my own comfortable home, and enough food on the table. I am also so thankful that I have lots and lots of fabric, yarn, paper, paint, markers, pencils, books, videos, and many other tools that fuel my creativity.
I am about to start a new project that I have been asked to keep secret. It would be fabulous if my finished quilt was chosen to be part of the final project. This will be my first quilt totally made of solids (maybe a little scrap of pattern may appear in the end result). I've been collecting solids for a few years now. Mostly, fat quarters so I can have many colors, especially since I usually use strips. I am so lucky to have such a beautiful collection!
I will be documenting the whole project to be published after the secret is out.
Also, this week I made a new pin for my Etsy shop:
I finished both gifts for the people at the Shofuso House who helped me with the translation. The person who answered my original email and asked the volunteer to make the translation for me will receive the cedar and lavender sachet below. The fabric is from Japan; the lighter a traditional motif, the darker a print of Boro Cloth. This person is male and I thought this might be nice for one of his drawers or closet.
The person who did the translation is female and I thought that a pin in the genre of the book she was translating for me would be nice. I had this piece of fabric that is a Japanese motif (Japanese Maple Leaves?) and may even be from Japan. Since I do not know this person I did not want to make a cat pin as that might not be her style. I thought this could be pinned to a tote bag if she did not love it.
I really enjoyed the process of making this by hand--now that I know that only 1 strand of embroidery floss is used for the motif and 2 strands are used for the outline. I can't wait to make one using an original drawing.
Today I am experimenting with embroidery. Someone at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden was kind enough to translate a small section of one of the Japanese books I recently purchased in New York. Although the photos in the book are excellent, I just could not figure out what a couple of things meant. I would like to send two gifts for the people who helped me. I know one person is male, and am almost positive the other person is female (I looked up the person's Japanese name and the Internet says it is a girl's name). I will show the end results when the gifts are complete.
The big news is that I have EIGHT items in my Etsy Shop. Okay, that is not a big number, but it is a start. Now all I need is my first sale! I did sell a couple custom ordered brooches. Someone I know requested the fabric to match the colors of her cats--one is gray and the other is orange. At this time I am only taking custom orders from people I know.
I have some other news that I am excited about. I have submitted an idea for an article about Sherri Lynn Wood, an improv quilter whose work is very exciting. (Her blog, Daintytime, is listed on my sidebar.) Unrelated, Ms. Wood is releasing a book in the spring and has called for quilters to create work based on her guidelines that could be pictured in the book. So I signed up for that and will be starting that project. I will document the project, but am only allowed to publish anything related after the book is released. No one knows if their project will be chosen for the book or not.
So I have a few exciting things going on this month! Yeeee!
I am sure you have heard about Craftsy.com. It is a site
that offers video lessons on different crafts such as knitting, sewing,
quilting, cake decorating, etc. I have signed up for a few knitting and quilting
classes, some free of charge, most $14.99 to $19.99 (when on sale). I usually
get edgy or bored and do not finish the class, but this past weekend I purchased
the “Stitch and Slash” class by Carol Ann Waugh and actually watched the whole
class and thought it was pretty good. I have not tried the stitch and slash
method as that takes a bit of my “precious” fabric and of course I have the
fear of ruining or wasting it, but I did try the very last lesson about “leftovers.”
Ms. Waugh described a method to use the leftovers from the
project she demonstrated. You know I love scraps and have saved almost every
little piece that I could—some strips and some little, itty-bitty corners and
squares and narrow strips that I could not figure out how to use without an
almost nonexistent seam allowance. (I did a couple of 5” x 7” art quilts with
those scraps and will put them in my shop.) The method described by Ms. Waugh
is interesting and easy. You can create a new piece of fabric to be used for
purses, pillows, etc. I made a piece and framed it for a gift. I really enjoyed
the process and am considering a large art quilt. This would be a project that
would take some time to complete as I work on other things, and I am pretty
excited about it.
As I have little patience and did not like hunting for each
color of fabric I spent 1 ½ hours sorting my itty-bitty scraps last night, so
maybe a block is in my future this evening.
I’ve also started that series of small “sketches,” inspired
by Gwen Marston’s book 37 Sketches. I
will not be making 37—again the patience problem—but am hoping to make at least
10. These will be color studies as I finally learned how to use a color wheel,
which is also explained in Waugh’s class. I have always read that the color
wheel is a helpful tool, but I never thought so. I know how to mix color when
it comes to paint, and think I have a pretty good sense of putting colors
together, but never knew about the way to use a color wheel for additional
color combinations. Since most of us tend to go with the same color
combinations, I think it is at least a great way to get some fresh color
This past Tuesday I went back to work after having a week off. Boy was it hard. I love staying home and there were a couple of days that I did not leave the house. I did not get as many things done in the studio as I thought I would as I did a little baking and straightening up as well as some long overdue chores, but it was great. It was like living the dream.
As I am trying to seriously focus on filling my Etsy shop, I have been carrying around a composition book for all of my ideas. I've always carried a sketchbook, but this is a little different as I feel free to jot down anything and don't treat the book like a sketchbook--my sketchbooks are filled with "good" drawings (or awful drawings that did not work out). The paper is treated with the fear of not messing it up and wasting it because it is usually expensive. I admit the composition book is very freeing. I've been lucky as I have had lots of ideas lately, I've been working out the kinks and really vetting a design concept until I love it.
I am also reading Kari Chapin's book, Handmade Marketplace. I have purchased many of these "self help" type business books in the past and never gotten through any of them, so I really trying to give this book a chance and read it through.
Often I see little exercises in these books that I skip, but somewhere (probably in a different book or website) I saw the question, "what do you like to do?" I know what I like to do, so I asked myself "what do you like to make over and over again?" My answer is: nothing. I like to make one of a kind pieces. Even though I may make the same thing more than once to get it right or improve it, once I get it the way I like it I don't want to make it again. Hmm, that could be a problem for someone who wishes to sell their handmade items and cannot afford to pay someone else to do the actual production.
This was an amazing thing I learned about myself.
I already knew that I don't like anything that I find too difficult--I don't like challenges like that. This applies to sewing, knitting and baking.
I don't like the project to be too time consuming as I get anxious and want to see the end result. I remember feeling this way in drawing class in college. I just wanted to be finished with a particular drawing so badly as it was weeks I was working on the same thing.
So now that I know this really important aspect of my creative personality I must find items that are a little different each time to keep me interested. If my goal was to make some extra money, I would be better off working a part-time job. My goal is to sell my designs and craftsmanship--not just give it away. People seem to like it when they receive my creations as gifts, which is great, but not enough for my ego. You never know if they are being polite or sincere.
Money = Validation. ...to me at least.
So I made a little something that I have been wearing around and have received many compliments on it (which always makes me smile), so I am starting with that and other designs within this genre.
This is the make it or break it year for me--that is, make it over and over and sell it, or break down and admit I don't really want to sell my things at all.