Crafting Variety

Crafting Process

Gram's Quilt Teapot Block
Teapot Block in Gram’s Quilt

There’s been some mention among my kind friends asking about my crafting  process. At the risk of boring everyone to death, well, pull up a chair or cushion and gather round for a story. We have to start at the beginning. Need some incentive to stay? I have cookies…

I come from a family of women who craft – embroidery, quilting, sewing. Well, except my mother, somehow the traditional crafting bug didn’t grab her at all. She’s creative in other ways, but picking up a needle and thread? Nope. However, my Gram and my great aunts and my aunt Kathy were constantly doing something with thread and fabric.

Gram's Quilt House Block
House block in Gram’s Quilt

I loved being around the yarns and threads and buttons. These were frugal crafters, born from an era of conservation and need. These ladies didn’t buy the designer materials. No, they were true bargain hounds, and those that used up what they had available. Perhaps that’s why I have the equivalent of a craft store worth of supplies in my craft room. It’s been the most difficult part of the house to clean out as I recently moved. 

It took awhile before I picked up crafting though. My Gram tried to teach me to crochet, since that was her favorite, but it was too frustrating for both of us. I am left handed and she was right. Reversing stitches didn’t work so well. I’ve picked up crocheting recently thanks to the wonders of  the internet and online tutorials. Left handed tutorials for the win!

Log Cabin Quilt
First Quilt – Log Cabin

What set me on the crafty path was home economics class in high school. Do they even teach that anymore? I hope so, even though I doubt it. Within a year I had made a pair of pants – ‘hammer pants’, and no I don’t have a pic and wouldn’t post it even if I did. Some things are better left to the memory. I also made a seal stuffie, and my first two quilts, a lap throw and a queen size log cabin. I remember one of my friends asking me how I got the lines in my log cabin blocks so straight. Alas, an outlet for my perfection was established. Hey, it’s better than a lot of things I could have done about it.

Gram's Quilt
Gram’s Quilt

From that point on, I was hooked on sewing. I made other quilts, including branching out into wallhangings. This quilt that I made for my grandmother, who got to enjoy it a couple of years before she passed, then it came back to me. It is certainly a bad example of quilting, but it’s where I started from and each block represents a fond memory of time my Gram and I spent together. It hangs proudly in my craft room.

I’m going to fast forward to one of my more current art quilts, and the one I consider my signature quilt. This tree combines all I am, my love of nature in the applique tree, to the free motion stitching, the precision edge satin stitching, and the bias strip Celtic braid woven through the branches. And hand beaded, of course. You might have noticed I have a difficult time with simple. But, hey, sometimes complexity is worth it as in this example. Other times it merely adds frustration and procrastination. Which I might be speaking from experience here…

Guardian tree art quilt

My style, like much of my life, is modern with a traditional base. I love layering applique shapes and embellishments over traditional blocks. Adding the techniques to jazz up the quilt top is so much fun.

But I never forget where I came from.

In light, magic, and with a few cookies,
Amy

Questions about my crafting process? Reach out on social media – links in the right hand navigation. Be the first to know about upcoming works and works in progress by signing up for my mailing list. I’ll throw in a few discounts here and there too. Thanks for stopping by my Etsy shop!

Gram's Quilt North Star Block
North Star Block in Gram’s Quilt


Crafting Variety

Embracing Slow Art Production

There’s a constant anxiety that races through my body whenever I think about my crafting and artwork. I produce work far, far slower than I want to. My constant reply to people inquiring about my work is – I don’t have a lot on Etsy right now, but I’m working on more. I’ve been saying that for a long time. Trouble is, that seems almost apologetic. Like it’s taking quality away from the items I do have listed. The pressure to list comes from my own expectations and the numerous suggestions that live online about how to have, or grow, a successful Etsy shop. That’s kind of sticking in my side like a stitch you get when running. It’s there, it’s annoying, but most times the best option is to keep moving with the ache. So I have figured it’s time to embrace slow art production. How? Good question. 

Clarify Expectations

What level do I want my work to be at? I would prefer to focus on quality instead of production. My art is what’s important, not just making something for tossing up for sale.

What is a reasonable expectation for listing? I don’t want to let my shop languish by the wayside so I do need to keep products in the shop and regularly add new work. Defining my expectations gives me guidance without the excess pressure. Realizing that they’re my goals and no one else’s lets me focus on creation and keeps production moving forward so I have something to work towards.

Add Perspective

I work full time, I dance and go to the gym. I cuddle with my cats and my hubby. I read a lot. I write novels on the side. I just moved, which is it’s own version of hell. And, I certainly like my sleep. Writing all this helps to keep in perspective that I handle a high volume of activities. I know I need to give myself a break. Easier said than done.

Slay the Perfection Demon

Like most artist types, if you could hear the number of times I’ve scrunched up my face when looking at something I’m doing and think, wow, this really sucks, you’d think I was the meanest person on earth. Perhaps I am, only to me however. And those that deserve it. (slightly evil grin here) Ahem. Back to the perfection issue. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to be a perfectionist. I’ve lived with it for so long that it’s actually tiresome. Not so easy to shrug off though, these habits of old. 

Send Work Out Into the World

I have these ideas that filter though the back of my mind. Say, sending out work and writing to magazines and publications. Building up a shop that has more than fifteen items at a time. Develop a shop that is branded well, cohesive, and feels authentic. I had plans this year to follow Nicola Taylor’s makers yearbook (thanks to H.N. James) and that fell by the wayside once I focused on selling the house. Can I catch up? Not fully, but I plan to jump in with both feet and gear up for the holiday season. 

So how can I jump in and remain committed to my turtle pace at the same time? By working on my art whenever I’m able to, without trying to go into machine mode. Keeping the fun and the experimentation at the forefront of my time. Embrace the artist that I am at this point in time, and not worrying about what I have yet to do. 

Speaking of slow art, I’ve been incorporating hand embroidery into my work. I love embellishments and the hand stitching. I think it’s worth the time and the wait. 

quilted log cabin applique embroidery
Log Cabin Wallhanging work in progress

 

In light and magic,
Amy

Like what you see? Sign up for previews of upcoming work on the right hand navigation. Stop by my Etsy shop. Like and share this post on your social media feeds. Or send me a note, I’d love to hear from you! 

Crafting Variety

Find the Joy

JoyAn online buddy of mine posted recently about his decision to quit fiction writing. He was depressed and miserable trying to push though the struggle to force words out. Of course people came out of the woodwork to tell him to stick with it, that it will get better, that he should try a, b, or c. What he has figured out though, is that if something is causing you heartache and misery, even if you love it, then it’s time to let go. It’s not right at this point in his life.

This has nudged me to look at much of my life and some of the same struggles I’ve been facing lately. Many of the areas of my life which I love completely, have been more challenging than they should be. I’m tired of being drained by the things that should be building me up instead. I’m not going to give up what I love, but I’m realizing it’s time to revamp my approach. Find a new rhythm, a new dance. Find the joy.

Horses

Anyone who knows me realizes I’ve loved these animals since I was young. I walk into a barn and it feels like home. I love the soft noses that nuzzle and the sweet gaze that follows me around. However, after being thrown, leasing horses that weren’t right for me, riding with folks that have different focuses and styles than I do, never regaining my confidence and not having the right fit for instruction and philosophy for me, I’m rethinking my approach. I appreciate everyone that I’ve worked with and those that have helped me along the way.

I need to keep seeking the right approach/fit/style that works for me. Currently that means taking a break and easing back into the horse world slowly. Not trying so hard. Finding the enjoyment of just being with these magnificent animals. Putting aside goals, even the one to have my own horse, until I’ve found the joy again. Letting a natural fit happen instead of trying to force it.

Crafts

Ah, yes. Another love. I have made everything from art quilt wallhangings to full sized bed quilts to wedding gowns, creatures and bags and costumes. If it’s fabric, I generally can figure out what to do with it. I also love paper crafts and have dabbled in crochet.

It was natural to try and turn those creative ventures into businesses. I did for a while, first doing the craft show circuit for a couple of years, then an Etsy business online. Although I learned a lot from both, and had fun, they were failures. Why? Lack of business experience/knowledge notwithstanding, the bottom line is that I hate production work. I prefer to work on one of a kind pieces that I can really get into. Plus working full time really puts a crunch on the preparation time needed for shows. So, I shut the businesses down, and besides the immense relief at not trying to prepare for craft shows or produce inventory for an online store, asked – now what?

Now what, indeed. I’m trying to learn how to create just for myself without thinking of sending the piece somewhere or needing to make multiple for sale. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m trying to finish some of the projects that were set aside in favor of production. I’m finding I love creating for friends, family, and exchanging work with other artists.

Writing

This is the hardest for me to talk about. From the second grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Growing up and into college, I took workshops and classes. Wrote poetry and short stories. Alternated between hearing that I was a brilliant writer, or I sucked. Listened to those stupid, annoying, and wrong people that said I sucked, and didn’t write for ten years. The stories wouldn’t let me go though, and with a nudge from my best friend – ok, actually a push – I jumped back into the world of stories.

I’ll admit that I haven’t finished any of them yet. There are eight total, all carrying varying degrees of weight around in my head and heart. I realize part of it is still dealing with my friend’s passing, as she was a constant catalyst for forward motion. And my beta reader. And the one I gave my work to first with complete trust. Finding that inspiration to write again is challenging.

The other aspect to all is the desire to fulfill my dream of becoming a full time writer. I’m realizing that all it’s doing is putting pressure on my stories – are they clever enough? Am I showing, not telling? Are the characters real and developed? Do the plots zing? Is there enough humor in the writing? And on, and on, and on. It’s enough to drive a writer mad and stop the creative flow. Performance anxiety, or something of that nature.

The only way to stop the pressure it to dissolve the dream. Take away the parameters, and the cage, that my writing is surrounded by. Decide not to care if I ever publish anything or if anyone besides me reads my work. Let it go. Does that seem counter intuitive? Perhaps, but it is the only thing that makes sense. I’ve tried everything else. I’ve listened to advice, followed it, tried other ideas, discarded them. The only thing left is to just let go.

It’s actually a freeing thought rather than a disappointment. My terms for creativity is that there are none. I’m not giving up creativity – it’s a part of my very essence. To be clear:

  • I am a horsewoman
  • I am a crafter
  • I am a writer

Just on my terms, and without the pressure. I am joy.

 

Crafting Variety

Crafty Projects

Wanted to show off a few of my latest craft projects. Now that I’ve stopped sewing as a business and am doing it just for me, I’m having lots more fun.

First up, a quilted bag to carry my writing and reading materials around in. This is a neat pattern from Lazy Girl Designs. The strap has a zipper so it can be worn as a shoulder bag or a backpack.

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The second item is a bag for my horse riding helmet since the original cover ripped. I used the same drawstring and catch. The old cover became a pattern base, and luckily the helmet fits.
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Crafting Variety

Transitioning Focus

Dear friends,

I have closed my Etsy shop and decided to focus on my writing. After working with my most excellent life coach, I’ve finally realized that what I yearn for most is to have my stories come to life. I’m finally giving them the space and time that they deserve, and I do mean that literally. I’m transitioning Heart of Autumn to reflect this renewed venture, and would love to have you join me as I meander about the story pathways.

Crafting and art quilts will always be a large part of my life. I’ll be posting my creations here too, so Etsy friends, I’d love to have you stick around if you choose.

I’m excited to be here and have this new direction. It feels authentic and right for me. Off to find the magic within.
Bright Blessings.

Crafting Variety

Time Travelers Extravaganza!

Please note! This most excellent group of artisans, the Time Travelers Team on Etsy, is having a sale! The shops listed below are all offering a surprise savings when using the coupon code EXTRAVAGANZA! Visit these fabulous shops, and fall in love with their creations! Sale runs through June 8th! We’re here – http://www.etsy.com/teams/9087/time-travelers-team

1. Moonspell www.etsy.com/shop/MoonspellCrafts
2. AgentofChaos www.etsy.com/shop/AgentOfChaos
3. DemBones www.etsy.com/shop/dembones
4. Scarletrabbit www.etsy.com/shop/Scarletrabbit
5. ZojjaUniquelyYou www.etsy.com/shop/Zojjauniquelyyou
6. GothAndGeekery www.etsy.com/shop/GothAndGeekery
7. Lizzesbeautifulart www.etsy.com/shop/LizzesBeautifulArt
8. RomanticaNocturnis www.etsy.com/shop/RomanticaNocturnis
9. Dovanna www.etsy.com/shop/Dovanna
10. RavensCrafts www.etsy.com/shop/RavensCrafts
11. StephaniePayan www.etsy.com/shop/StephaniePayan
12. TheWhisperingWorld www.etsy.com/shop/TheWhisperingWorld
13. Boitifole www.etsy.com/shop/Boitifole
14. Caitlinjohns www.etsy.com/shop/caitlinjohns
15.EquineAnnihilation www.etsy.com/shop/EquineAnnihilation
16.chrisoscreations www.etsy.com/shop/ChrisOsCreations
17 BeaPearson0626 www.etsy.com/shop/BeaPearson0626
18. FyreShadow www.etsy.com/shop/FyreShadow
19. balmyatticarts www.etsy.com/shop/balmyatticarts
20. MadScientistsDesigns www.etsy.com/shop/MadScientistsDesigns
21. JupitersHaven www.etsy.com/shop/JupitersHaven
22. TimelessAvenue www.etsy.com/shop/TimelessAvenue
24. Creaturosity www.etsy.com/shop/Creaturosity
25. Jansbeads www.etsy.com/shop/jansbeads
26. DarkBeautyBoutique www.etsy.com/shop/DarkBeautyBoutique
27. Biagreen www.etsy.com/shop/Biagreen
28. kindredimages www.etsy.com/shop/KindredImages
29. heartofautumn www.etsy.com/shop/heartofautumn
30. prettyandshiny www.etsy.com/shop/prettyandshiny
31. deepmidnightperfumes www.etsy.com/shop/deepmidnightperfumes

Crafting Variety

Tree in Progress

I’ve discovered that when I work on a quilt, I hate it. Until it’s finished, my work just looks…wrong. I’ll piece or applique a section wondering if it’s really going to come out like the vision in my head. And then I start quilting. The commentary running through my head is – what the heck was I thinking to stitch like that?

Take for instance my current piece. I have high hopes for this wallhanging as it’s the second time I’ve worked with this design, so I figured I’ve worked out the bugs already. Yeah, right…I edge stitched and free motion quilted the tree. And it looked ok to me. So this morning I moved on to the braided duponi silk. I stitched the first circle and all I could think was that I ruined the quilt. Instead of abandoning the project, which was honestly my first thought, I decided to keep going and add more. Ignoring the doubt monster, who was telling me I was crazy for continuing since the piece obviously was ruined, I added a couple more lines of circle quilting following the braid. Once I finished and really looked at the overall composition, I’ve finally been able to realize that it’s ok, and that I need to keep going.

That’s what I’ve taken away more from this work in progress. I don’t like the piece until it’s right. As soon as I start to like what I’ve done I know I’m ready to move on to the next part. Hopefully the next time I feel like tossing my work out the window I remember to just keep going forward instead.

Back to the studio to deal with the rest of the issues in the quilt and convince myself that I will find solutions and I will like the quilt in the end.

Crafting Variety

When the Doors Open

With the opening of my Etsy shop, I’ve been cautiously hoping that I can make enough from selling my crafts online to pay for the cost of leasing a horse, which I started doing in May. That’s been my entire goal at this point, though I secretly hope to make my crafts (and writing!) even more viable in my life than they are now. One step at the time though; getting ahead of myself is something I’m really good at doing. Luckily I have a husband who gently keeps me in check with reality.

Yet I’ve been sending out energy into the cosmos with the intention of being able to at least make up for the cost of my lease horse. I know I have so much more to do with building my Etsy site into a viable storefront, but if directing energy that way could do it all, it would be a profitable business already. My thought has always been if something is meant to be, the doors will open (or maybe a window) that will lead the way.

I’m thrilled to say that the door opened for me – a local gift shop has asked to carry my items in their shop. Completely unexpected, but I will say that having my shop on Etsy and the connections I’ve made with fellow Mainers there helped create that opportunity. Now that the gates have decided to open, I have to take that step through the door. I’m excited, and nervous, and in the back of my head wondering what I’m getting myself into. I asked for this though, and I’m ready.

My hubby is there to keep me tethered to the earth so I don’t hit my head on the door jamb floating through the doorway.