Monday, July 6, 2020

The Narrative

Have you ever woken up from a dream that is so unbelievably vivid and clear? One that is so full of imagery that you feel that it was definitely sent to you as a message? I have a lot of dreams and many of them are memorable for some reason or another but nothing like the goose dream I had in February.  It stuck with me and I could not stop thinking about it. Geese seemed to show up constantly as a reminder of the disturbing and apocolyptic dream.

With art, you should be moved to feel. I am not interested in buying or making art that coordinates with my living room but is devoid of emotion. I want to feel a physical reaction to it- good or bad. For me, I think I achieved that in this piece. Someone else could look at it and see something different or nothing at all. But when I look at that piece, it says what I wanted it to say and I feel the way that I felt when I woke up that morning in February.

Im always fascinated by the process an artist goes through when they make their art. I know that for some people it starts with a color, for some a shape. For me, it is always the narrative. New meanings are uncovered and healing takes place. Healing through communication, the process of creation and the reconciliation of the feelings themselves.  So whether it's happy art or darker art, they all serve the same purpose; exploration and understanding.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 49-52

There are 52 weeks in a year but what a year this has been! This weekly project stretched a bit longer than one year. Between the usual chaos of the holidays, selling the shop, and then the impact of covid-19, there were a lot of things that kept me from a strict timeline. But I am happy to say that I stuck with it regardless of the 14 months that it took me to complete my 52 Weeks of Play. As a serious type A personality, I can be rigid in my discipline. I am thankful for that in so many ways; I have been able to achieve many of my dreams and feel more comfortable in the structure of my routine. But there are times when forcing discipline and commitment are not the best way to go. The standards and expectations I put on myself have always been far greater than the ones put on me.

Learning to have some grace with myself has been a conscious effort. Slowing down I have begun to notice the subtleties of the leaves as the wind knocks outside of my window, the quantity of Cardinals in my own backyard and the gift of stopping in the middle of the day to just go for a walk. I hope to take that lesson into the future and remember to slow down even as life becomes more full again with places to go and things to do.

Week 49: Garment Sewing

I purchased this beautiful fabric in NYC months ago and it was just waiting to be something fabulous but I wasn't sure quite what.  I kept imagining a coat with a crazy faux fur collar and a leopard lining a la Versace pattern mixing style. I decided to make a long structured vest so I hacked a pattern and added a lining. I love how it turned out!

Week 50: Silkscreen

Silkscreen can be intimidating to people because it seems like you need a lot of fancy supplies. That is simply not true! There are many easy ways to make a DIY silkscreen! I used contact paper and organza with some acrylic paint. An old gift card made a great squeegee and that was it!

I have been working on a quilt that was inspired by a very vivid dream I had in February about a flock of geese. Since then, geese have been showing up in my sketchbook and I can't stop thinking about them. The geese silkscreens were cut out and will be stitched into a larger piece that I am working on.

Week 51: Dyeing with Kool Aid and Rit Dye

I have dyed fabrics in many different ways. As much as I enjoy it, the preciseness of measuring powders and chemicals to get the finished product tends to keep me from doing a lot of it. Since I work with smaller pieces of fabric and do not need to replicate my results from dye bath to dye bath, I am always looking for alternative ways to add color. This week I played with Kool Aid and Liquid Rit Dye. Both are found at the grocery store and easy to use.

Week 52: Painted Coffee Filters

I love working in layers...collage, lace fabrics, encaustic... so I started playing around with coffee filter art. This was so fun! And you cant get much cheaper than a coffee filter! After I created my art, I cut out the image and added it to my art journal.

Now that my 52 Weeks of Play are over I am going to continue in this direction. Taking time to focus on process over project has been fun and informative! It has helped me add new techniques to my art toolbox that I am excited to incorporate into more of my art. Follow along on instagram @the_meditative_stitcher

Thursday, April 23, 2020

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 45-48

As I read about artists feeling a bit 'all over the place' right now, I can completely relate! I am not sure on why that is but I wonder if it is a combination of the overwhelm of finally having so much time to create that it makes it hard to choose or if it is the anxiety and worries of current events.  My guess is that it's a combination of the two. I have so many ideas and so many things I have always wanted to work on that my focus level is just not there. Rather than work on my quilted art pieces which tend to involve an emotional concept with many weeks or months of work and decision making involved, I find myself unable to make the commitment. I am craving creative projects that require me to  follow directions (like garment sewing or a knitting project) or that allow me full on creative play (like making a mess for the pure joy of creating).

Week 45: Log Cabin Quilt Block

Even though I consider myself a quilter, I pretty much never make traditional quilt blocks. I love the look of them and even made a few traditionally patterned quilts back in the late 90s but I have no desire to make them now. When I decided that my boring knitting bag needed some fun fabric patches, I found one of my favorite bird fabric remnants from designer, Anna Maria Horner. I decided to feature it in a log cabin quilt block.

Week 46: Crochet Cast on

Well- this is a didn't feel like "play" but it was learning something new! I tried out a sweater pattern that called for a crochet cast on. After two evenings of struggle, I was up and running! The rest of this sweater flew by and I made it in record breaking (for me) time!

Week 47: Eco Dyed Paper

Another casualty of COVID was my monthly newspaper column, Crafting Into Calm. It's unfortunate because I feel like now more than ever this column could help people. Also unfortuate, I had submitted my April article before I knew that the freelance writers were cut. I completely understand and support this but I wanted to share the project with you! Using items in your own backyard, I created a wall hanging featuring paper that was dyed with petals and leaves. If anyone is interested in the full DIY article, let me know and I would be happy to publish it here.

Week 48: Paint Collage Stitch

Well this was a fun one! I spent Saturday afternoon completely engrossed in play. I am realizing that my hands and plans often cant keep up with my creative energy. For awhile now I have been looking at ways to best connect my love of adding hand stitch and texture with my abstract paintings and collage. I still havent nailed the process I am looking for but I think I am getting closer.

Monday, March 30, 2020

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 41-44

The last few weeks have brought about some major life changes. Not only have I sold my business which is a huge personal transition, but we as an entire human race are facing a major challenge. Like everyone else, I am just trying to grasp onto everything and anything that helps to bring about comfort at a time like this. And for me, that is art.

Week 41: Drawing

I never have felt confident in my drawing skills so I treated myself to a new sketchbook and have committed to starting a drawing practice. I would love to be able to incorporate more of my own imagery into my quilts. You can't get better without practice!

Week 42: Couching Stitch

I used this week to put the finishing touches on my latest quilt. I always liked the look of couching but never really used it much in my own pieces. I really wanted the figure to stand out against the background so I used the couching method of embroidery to outline the figure. As you can tell from the finished piece, this was created during the turbulence of the last several months and finished as the news of the pandemic was growing.

Week 43: Monoprints

By this second or third week of social distancing, I turned to some fun online art classes! There are so many wonderful free resources out there for people to learn new techniques. One of my absolute favorite artists is Laura Kemshall. Besides her paid online classes, there are many free ones to choose from. I took her monoprinting class and got some terrific results! Here is a link!

Week 44: Paper Stencils

What I have found to be the most comforting during this time of global crisis is the notion of "play". Having an escape from the news to get into a meditative state of creating where you can just make a mess without any pressure. There are so many ways of doing this. For this past week, I used basic office supplies of cardstock, paperpunches and an exacto knife to make some easy paper stencils.

I encourage everyone to pull out their art supplies- even if that means crayons and coloring books.  Having a creative outlet can take you out of yourself and allow you a few minutes (or more!) of peace.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 37-40

These rainy days bring out my inspiration! I have noticed a theme with my play activities lately. They involve a lot of quiet meditative stitching. Nothing beats curling up in a blanket with cloth and a needle and thread. Not all of the play has been stitching but even when my week focused on collage or embossed paper, there has been stitching in the form of knitting. This handwork has gotten me through some of my most difficult times in my life and I honestly do not know where I would be without it.

Week 37: Collage

More art journal play! I was fortunate to take an all day New Year's workshop with Courtney Prahl. The perfect day of losing one's self in making through introspection, play and reflection.

Week 38: Sashiko

The Japanese form of decorative reinforcement stitching (functional embroidery), traditionally used to reinforce or repair called Sashiko has been getting a lot of buzz these days. As people become more aware of the origin of their fast fashion clothing, many people are choosing to take up Sashiko to mend their well loved clothing as opposed to tossing them into a landfill. Besides fulfilling a practical need, the stitch also adds a handmade touch of beauty to the item. 

Week 39: Embossing

I just love embossing powder. I created paper mosaic hearts using gold embossing powder. Watching the dull dirty brown powder turn into gilded gold is magical.

Week 40: Slow Stitching

There is something about the up down motion through the cloth that just soothes me. And this particular nubby textured fabric is really speaking to my heart. For this week of play, this was exactly what my soul needed.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 33-36

I fell a few weeks behind on my play. When I really needed it the most I was unable to make time to play. The holidays can be stressful and time consuming but it shows me year after year what I know to be true. I am not my best when I do not make time for exercise and art. Those two things along with daily meditation and eating healthy are essential components for my happiness. While I kept up with my daily meditation, the rest really fell by the wayside. And I paid for it. Dearly. But it is over and I am so glad to get back to my normal routine and healthy habits.  Here are weeks 33-36 with a  two week hiatus between 35 & 36!

Week 33: Glue Gun Stencils

I have always wanted to give this a try and was excited to make some stencils for mono printing using my glue gun! They were fun to make and I especially enjoyed using it with handwriting.

Week 34: Monoprints with Glue Gun Stencils

This was a craft FAIL! Maybe with more practice this would have worked out better but I did not have great results. I realized however how cool the stencils were once they had paint on them. The realization opened up new ideas for ways to use the stencils since they were 3D and also pliable. 

Week 35: Color Patterned Knitting

You guys, I made a dino scarf! And it is reversible! I'm actually pretty proud of this project which was a Christmas gift for my nephew. It was my first time following a knitting chart and using 2 colors to make a design. I have been told that my nephew won't take it off. Now that is a knit worthy person! 

Week 36: Book Making

Since it is a new year and I love to journal, I thought it would be fun to make my own! I used the paper fabric I made in Week 30 as the cover and created random pages to inspire some fun writing prompts. You can learn how to make your own in my upcoming Crafting Into Calm project in the Frederick News Post.

I'm looking forward to getting back to playing after my 2 week hiatus! See you soon!

Monday, November 11, 2019

52 Weeks of Play: Weeks 29-32

Week 29: Meditative Stitching

Last month I was able to get away for a few days with my husband to Chincoteague VA. I am fortunate to be able to do this a few times a year but I  especially love going there in the off-season. Nothing beats the quiet morning view. Meditative stitching is the perfect activity for when you are on a trip. With your daily demands at home, vacation allows you to focus on what is most important. Slow stitching keeps your intentions on what you are creating. I stitched my gratitude for the quiet mornings.

Week 30:  Paper Fabric

It has been a long time since I made paper fabric and I was anxious to take a week of play to try it again! Basically you create a thinned down glue and use it to adhere light weight papers such as tissue and napkin layers to fabric. You can basically create your own designed fabric!

Week 31: Reversible Knitting

Because I have to be the BEST aunt ever, when my 6 year old nephew asked me to knit him a scarf, I could not possibly say no! And could I just make a scarf? Of course not, I had to make a super cool reversible color worked dinosaur scarf! So I had to learn how to do reversible knitting. Stay tuned for the color work which will eventually be a future week of play!

Week 32: Shibori

One of my favorite weeks of play! I love Shibori so much and was excited to host Margaret Hluch's Shibori Workshop yesterday.  We spent six hours practicing the various techniques of this Japanese thread resist. I love the pieces I left with!