Friday, February 23, 2018

Finding Your Voice - Off the Wall Friday

I've been floating for a while now.  I'm not beating myself up for it, mind you  since I've learned over the years that creativity cycles ebbs and flows like most things in life.  But hours of working your way through someone else's  traditional quilting pattern gives a girl time to think.

What is the voice of my artwork?  Have I found it?  Was I actually looking?  grin

hmmmmmmm, after a little research I found suggestions on how to!

Curves, Color and Joy - My Voice
  • Which design element is important to you - shape, line, value, color and texture? Which one do you see taking center stage in your pieces time and time again.   Me, I'm a color girl first and foremost with Value doing a lot of the work.  
  • What are you trying to say?  This takes some thought because you have to decide what is important to you.  Some artists have big political statements; some artists want to change a mundane moment in life into something noteworthy.  Some are storytellers; Some artists want to convey the emotion of what they see.  The list is endless.  I think, and I could be wrong, for me its  all about emotion and beauty. 
  • How Are you trying to say it?  This is all about developing your own working style from  inspiration to the design process to the method of construction and completion.  Yes, you will be influenced by those who have taught you and those you admire, but in the end you need to find out what works for you.  I remember, taking a master class where the teacher was surprised to see me piecing my work.  Apparently, everyone else was fusing.  I at once looked up and said should I be fusing too?  She laughed and said no, the texture the seams are making is amazing.  I realized then and there that I don't need to do what others are doing, but what is right for me.  
  • Where's the Commonality?  Start linking our pieces by what things they have in common.  Explore old elements while adding the new.  Working in series helps with this tremendously but even stand alone pieces should still share some elements with your body of work as a whole.  
  • What Do You want to leave out?  Accept the fact that you don't need to be anybody's idea of an artist but your own.  There are a lot of elements out there that are considered art.  You do not need to put them all in your work.  Work the way you want to work, saying what you want to say and don't apologize for it.  Centering on what's inside of you rather than what's out there in world of art will only strength your own voice.  
I'm sure there are more things to consider, but that's a good start.  Finding one's voice is definitely a work in progress but a rewarding one.  There is nothing I better than hearing one of friends say, "Oh Nina, I could tell your piece right away"

It might be good.  It might be bad.  But its definitely me.

So What Have You Been Up To Creatively?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Annual Skip Day - Off the Wall Friday

 Tessa and I had an annual tradition which we called Annual Skip Day.  I was a substitute teacher all while she was growing up and  so when Tessa was in school, I  went to school.  It was a hard stressful job which had many rewards, but . . . did I mention stressful?  So, I thought it was a good idea that once a year, I would write a note to her teacher . . . .




 Dear Mrs. Teacher,
                                                      Tessa and I are feeling stressed out so we are 
                                                      skipping school today.  We wish you were
                                                      coming with us.  We plan to have fun and 
                                                      eat junk food and laugh a lot.   Don't Worry!
                                                      We'll be back tomorrow.

                                                                      Mrs. Sayre
     

I would always make sure that homework was all caught up and she never missed a beat.  But we had a ton of fun!!  We would always plan something interesting and did outrageous things - like have hamburger and fries and shakes at our favorite hamburger join....for Breakfast.  We told all the people we met - We're skipping school!  Wanna join us?  

I say all this because I think its a good idea that once in a while, you  just take day off  just because.  Not a day to go to appointments, or to catch up on chores, or to even schedule a studio day.  Its just a day that you forget  responsibilities and stresses.  And don't apologize for it.

So Fast forward 10 years and I've raised a very responsible college girlie, I can't talk her into taking a skip day with me but I'm doing it anyways. With that this blog is coming out a bit late but that is the last thing that could be consider a responsibility today!  I might start on my Sherlock  Box set I got for Valentines day, but  I probably will end up in the studio sewing on my quilt - not because I HAVE to but just for the joy of it.  I might listen to Harry Potter for the third time and get a Happy Meal for lunch and not apologize to anybody.  I might even get a Coke.  With  SUGAR.

So Happy Annual Skip Day!

You should take one too!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Traditional Quilting - Off the Wall Friday

So the couple of weeks, I've gotten back to my roots and have been working on a block of the month quilt.  No matter how much art quilting I do, I still love traditional quilting.  It might be because it always reminds me of the first years when I learned to quilt and how excited I was to have finally found my passion.  Or it might be that it has its roots so solidly in American history.  Or it might be that it usually doesn't take a lot of brain power to make something beautiful.

Well usually. . . . . but maybe not this time.  I've been working on block of the month quilt that I got
This is what is suppose to look like when finished!!
for my birthday last summer from Craftsy.  It was such a super deal (and its even gone cheaper now- $53 for the material kit, pattern AND class) that I couldn't resist it.   One of the things that drew me to the quilt is that it contained some techniques that I wanted to hone so I could use them in my own work.  This quilt has a TON of them.

The first one is paper piecing.  Now, I know how to paper piece and even draft my own patterns.  But, it always takes a lot of brain power to get it just right.  The first part of the quilt is the center medallion with a lot of sharp precisely paper pieced points (say that three times fast!).




First thing I learned - Paper Piecing Sheets are worth the money
I love how they easily sew up and how easily they rip off.
Also if you need to rip out, they can be easily sewn again

 

The quilt comes with its own craftsy class to help guide you through the quilt.  The camera work is
excellent so you can really tell what he is doing and watching how he gets all his points so sharp.  The teacher also teaches you how to keep your paper piecing nice and neat.






Second thing I learned - Fold and Cut Seam allowance
You fold along the seam line and trim a quarter inch seam.
This makes your paper piecing as neat or neater than traditional piecing
plus helps you piece your points just right

With all the paper pieces blocks done, I'm now sewing them together.  With this I'm remembering something that I've seemed to have forgotten.

Getting all your points to match is not as easy as it looks


Ohhh yeah, I knew there was a reason I don't do a ton of traditional quilting.  I've spent a lot of time ripping out and getting the points just right because with this quilt it makes a big difference.  

Still  I'm having a lot of fun doing this and it reminds me why I fell in love with quilting in the first place.  Still after I ripped out the same seam - 4 - yes - 4 times I was reminded of Jenny's comment to me last week. . . . .

"Sometimes you just need to sew somewhat mindlessly to get back in the groove."

Ohhhhh yeah......that's right mindless........sighhhhhhhhh 

I'm Linking to  Finish or Not Friday

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Off The Wall Friday



I am happy to report that I have officially broken through the winter doldrums and have gotten back into my studio.  It felt so good and just right.  I spent 4 hrs working on a kit quilt and hopefully I'll be making some original work soon!!  But gosh, having fun just sewing the kit quilt!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively? 

 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Troubleshooting Free Motion Quilting - Off the Wall Friday

I know in the last few years that free motion quilting has become an art form in itself. !Some of the examples you see online are simply jaw dropping.  Do I think they're amazing?  Yes   Do I want to do work like that?  No.  For me, I  just like to do thread work for what my pieces seem to call for. Even that can be sometimes tricky.  

It seems that every time I sit down to free motion quilt, there is something I need to adjust so that my stitches run smoothly.  Tension is usually the name the name of the game when it comes to this type of quilting and yours better be perfect if you want your work to look good.


So what do you do when your free motion quilting stitching is just not right?

Troubleshooting Free Motion Quilting Stitches

1. Re-thread your machine.  Always, always, make sure that your machine is thread properly.  Dust off your book and re-read how the manufacturer says to thread your machine and load your bobbin. (This has happened to me)

2.  Wind your bobbin correctly.  Make sure your bobbin is wound nice and evenly.  Grab your book again and double check that you are threading your machine properly to get a nice
even wind.  (This has happened to me too!)

3.  Tension, Tension, Tension.  Make sure your tension on your machine is working properly.  Spend some time, on a practice piece playing with the tension  settings to get the stitch you need.  I've heard many recommend tweaking the tension on the bobbin case, but I've never had to resort to that.

3.  Change Your Needle.  Make sure you are using the right needle for your thread choice and make sure that its properly sharp.  I've heard that 8 hrs of quilting per needle is a good guideline, but truly I don't time how much time is on my needles.  I just listen for the dull POP, POP, POP the needle makes when its starting to get dull to change it.

4.  Slow Down Your Hand Speed.  After much trial and error, I find my machine likes to go fast and my hands go slow.    Its harder than it looks and took some practice but it helped my tension problems!

5.  Change Your Thread.  If your thread keeps breaking, try a new thread.  I have literally given up trying to get rayon to free motion quilt for any length of time without breaking.  When I need some shine, I like Mettler Poly Sheen the best.  I use aurifil when I need some nice matte cotton quilting and I've found that Coats and Clark Dual Duty worked fine.  In the bobbin??  Superior Bottom Line or a 50 wt medium grey aurifil.  I know people match their top and bottom threads.  I just don't. 


6.  Use a Thread Stand.  I love my thread stand and use it even when I have smaller spools.  Of course, you need to make sure that your thread is coming off nice and evenly and not catching on anything.  Also, some spools come off better with a horizontal position, so keep an eye out for that.

7.  Use Gloves and a Teflon Sheet.  I pretty much use my gloves whenever I do any quilting.  It makes it so much easier to regulate your speed of your hands.  My teflon sheet, I only grab when I have a bunch of free motion to do.    I'm not quite sure if it makes a big difference, but since I bought it , I use it.

I hope this helps when you get the Free Motion Quilting Blues!!

So What Do You Do to Troubleshoot Your Free Motion Quilting?



Friday, January 19, 2018

Fighting the Doldrums of Winter - Off the Wall Friday

Okay, I'll admit it.  January is ALWAYS  the hardest time of the year for me.  Its always cold and gray here on the shores of Lake Erie.  It always feel like spring is forever away.  I always feel a little bogged down by the mundaness of working at home.  What I don't feel is motivated to do anything creative.  Even this blog was hard to write today.

It has me asking where did all my motivation go and how do I find it again?  If you're in the same boat as me (well maybe not boat, because Lake Erie is nearly frozen over for the winter and we would be stuck in the ice), here are some ideas to recapture your creativity!

TAKE A BREAK FROM ROUTINE
I'll tell you a secret. Some days I need to remind  myself what day of the week it is....my days are THAT routine!   I  mean don't get me wrong, I love my routine  because it makes me feel secure,
buttttttttttt, it also  is very limiting.  So opening myself up to something new and "changing things up" should help me find my spark!

GET MOVING
So, apparently, studies have shown that exercise stimulates the brain by creating new neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain. Physical activity helps us get out of our heads and stimulate new thought patterns.What I can tell you is that sloth begets more sloth.  I mean truly.  Once I give myself permission for a lazy day, one day turns into two and so on. So I guess I need to get a move on and get back on my treadmill!!

TURN UP THE COLOR
Despite the current decorating fascination with grey, its not the most inspiring color.  Bright colors
inspire and effect your mood.  So let go of the neutrals for a bit and get a little color!

SIMPLIFY
Sometimes the world seems too complex to begin more less add the complexity of creativity to it.  Its overwhelming.  So instead of looking at a whole project, look at the very basic bones of a new endeavor.  Cut away all the clutter that surrounds you that might be bogging you down.


GIVE IT  20 MINUTES
This is from my husband who is the most productive person I know. (Truly - that man is the energizer bunny incarnate!)  His rule is to do it for 20 minutes no matter what!  Everyone can discipline themselves to power through 20 minutes of a project.  After 20 minutes, if you don't  want to continue then quit.  But most of the time, you'll keep going.  He came up with this plan when he was having a lull in his woodworking so he started what he called his 20 minute Table.  Everyday he would work on it for at least 20 minutes and at the end  he had this gorgeous table which he gave to his sister!

Okay, its getting late and I should have written this last night......but alas......I was uninspired!  So hopefully this will help get you through the dark days of winter!

SO WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO CREATIVELY?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Off the Wall Friday