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

Creative Improvement Through Practice

I’ll admit that creative improvement has not been high on my priority list. 

A tote bag from my Etsy shop
These tote bags keep getting better the more I make.

Whenever I sit down to sew, there’s the voice that reminds me that I need to get more done for my Etsy site. I don’t have nearly enough products up. My pictures need improvement. Have I looked over my descriptions? What about tags? What about engaging in social media? The list is endless.

So every chance I get, I construct a tote bag, stitch a quilt together, or design journal covers. I have limited time, and I need to use every moment I can to make my Etsy shop better.

However, by skipping the practice, even with the quilting and sewing experience I have, I am doing myself a disservice. I do spend a lot of time watching videos and taking classes to learn new techniques. What I don’t do is set aside time to practice them.

‘But you don’t have time.’ I hear that inner voice whine.

Perhaps not. I need to make time. To achieve that creative improvement goal I have a few ideas…

Schedule time. This is a counter intuitive option for me. As soon as I declare I’m going to sew at a specific time, I don’t. I think my mind rebels at the thought of being restricted, and I will find anything else to do but what I had intended to. Laundry, cleaning, reading…doesn’t matter what the distraction is, I find it. When I say schedule, what I prefer to do is fit in a couple half hour blocks dedicated to practice. Sometimes fifteen minutes. Sometimes five. Depending on how crazy life is that week. By being flexible, I am free to practice more. Instead of saying ‘I must’, change the view ‘I get to’.

Prep ahead of time. This is even more important than scheduling. If I make it easy, I’ll do it. Setting up a practice quilt sandwich (top, batting, backing) to try out a free motion quilt design works well. I’ll tell myself just to do a corner or a line and usually end up finishing the entire piece.

Remember it’s just practice. I have a challenging time when things aren’t just so, especially with my quilting. Which is why it’s even more important to practice. I have to remember that the more I practice, the better my Etsy items are going to be. It’s worth the time.

Immediately try new techniques. I’m great at needing to replay things in my head to get them right before I do them. Which means I don’t do them because I end up psyching myself out before I even start. My new attempt will be watching a new skill and trying it out shortly thereafter.

Will these new techniques assist me with creative improvement and becoming a better artist? I have no idea, but I hope so. I’ll certainly report back. What about you? Are there techniques you use to practice your art? Tell me about them by commenting below or posting on social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

New to Heart of Autumn? Sign up for my email newsletter (right hand navigation) where you can get discounts, previews of Etsy products, and sneak peeks of works in progress.

Crafting Variety

My Wish for Imbolc

holding candle

Time dawns anew
Formulate seeds
Intentions
Gather goals
Incubate
Future promise

Patience
Generate heat within
Create from soul
Heart pours
Progress grows
From inner light
Push past frustration
The urge to give up
To walk away

Around the bend
Ignition
Spark
Flare
Connection

Wait for that moment
Start at the beginning
Refuse to give up
Lay the foundation
Build it well

Amy Dionne, 2015

Image courtesy of SOMMAI at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crafting Variety

rainbowofcrazy on Etsy

Hello all! Because I love Etsy and handmade artists, I’ve decided to post up my favorite shop of the week. Here’s week #1 featuring rainbowofcrazy and she has some lovely items. She has lovely art, including Tarot cards! My favorites below are just in time for Halloween!

black cat moon
Black Cat Print by rainbowofcrazy

full moon necklace
Full Moon Necklace by rainbowofcrazy

Crafting Variety

Journaling to Create

A Collection of JournalsNo matter how much I’ve written in my journal, I often show up to the page with a scattered mind and little idea of what I want to talk to myself about. Maybe it’s the act of committing words on the page that unsettles me. When the thoughts are still in my head, they can float around and go in any direction. Writing them on the page makes them real.

 

Words, both written and spoken, have power. Both take courage. That solidification of thoughts breathes life into the anonyminity fogging up my brain.

Writing is a release. Writing validates. Writing gives voice to mind clutter.

What journaling does is allow me freedom and space, especially when I’m most reluctant to write. It opens up the pathways, allowing the writing habit to take hold. I find journaling lets me get all those annoying thoughts and rants and randomness that I wouldn’t share with others out of the way so I can focus on writing my stories. It pushes me to listen to my characters. Journaling doesn’t take away creative time, rather, it provides the groundwork.

The habit of journal writing plants a seed of hope for the future. No matter what level of despair you face, the pages are waiting for you. No judgement, and a place of solitude.

The big question is how to journal when you have no idea where to start.

Got your notebook? (or keyboard?) Pen? (or fingers?) Great. Now write the date. (Or not, it’s your journal). Then write something. Anything. Not happening? Here are some ideas:

  • A quote.
  • A mantra.
  • A visualization.
  • An affirmation.
  • What resonated about the day before?
  • Voice your regrets and fears.
  • Breathe life into your hopes and dreams.

Your thoughts deserve validation. Start small, but make it habit of turning to your journal. Then there will be fewer times you show up to a blank page, or canvas, or performance space. Because when you give your randomness validation, you can focus on your creativity.

Non traditional creatives, I’m talking to you too. Journaling can help you bring your A-game to your favorite sport, rearranging your house, planting a garden, cooking, or building a relationship with your kids. Journaling will let you be in touch with your intuition so you can find solutions and approach problems with a clearer head.

Try it. Commit to a page a day. A paragraph if that’s too much. Hey, even write a cool sentence to sum up the day before if that’s all you’ve got. Just show up, and the words will follow. Even if you have to bribe them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafting Variety

Starlight Guide

Guided by the stars
Guided by the stars

As I walk through life, realizing that as an introvert and a quiet person in general, I have concluded that my life is being pulled by starlight. My best friend who passed away last year used to call me Starlight. It just fits.

Reality tells me that I’m not going to be part of the inner circle; I’m not gregarious enough to have that much pull. I don’t shine in the sunlight; I burn. The sun’s rays overheat my body, and summer often sends me inside seeking relief except for the early morning or evenings. It is finally dawning on me that I will most likely not be the next great writer, nor will I have success right out of the box. It’s not part of who I am. The only way I will succeed is on my terms, and at my rhythm. I’m learning not to covet that bright shining sun focused on the voices that society gravitates towards. I’d only be fried to a crisp.

So how do I achieve success while keeping myself intact? By following the starlight. As with the lighthouse from my last post, if I reach those that I’m meant to with my stories, I’m further ahead on my path than if I tried to follow a method that’s not authentic for me.

The evening and it’s illumination always has sheltered me. The moments before dawn are when I’m most in tune with the surrounding world, with the song of nature and the connections to the world around me. Instead of following the traditional paths, I need to follow the hidden ones, the ones that look like they lead nowhere, the ones that find the hidden sacred groves. Yes, there’s going to be fewer people in those places. Yet if my writing and my words finds its home amongst those people, and if I walk an authentic path, then I am richer for it. The starlight will be my guide.

In honor of that revelation, I will attempt a moonlight garden this year. Even though I’m an earth element (mutable earth from my zodiac sign) I generally fail at tending plants. Give me animals and I can work with them. Plants just laugh at me. Maybe I’ve been going after the wrong ones. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. I think perhaps now is the right time. Creating a garden to highlight the illumination of the stars and moon may just be what I need as a reminder that I follow a different path in life, and that I am more comfortable with hushed quiet of the darkness. There are others out there who feel the same, and I hope that our paths will entwine.

Until then, may the starlight guide you.

Image courtesy of bulldogza/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crafting Variety

A Snail’s Pace Forward

ID-1006129I’ve made some changes in my life. Small ones, because I can’t handle anything else. When I try to make large, sweeping changes in my life I set myself up for failure from being overwhelmed. Instead of trying to take large leaps and be disappointed, I am dancing in baby steps.

Yoga
I’ve added a yoga practice into my morning routine. Now, this is not some grand practice where I stand on my head or twist myself into a pretzel. No where close to that image. This is simply showing up at the yoga mat in my loft and doing some stretches. If I’m so inclined, add a few poses or flows. If I’m too tired or just out of it, I sit there, and breathe.

Journal Writing
Many times in my life I have thought about keeping a journal and started one, only to have it fizzle out within a couple of days. Oh I’d write in it periodically, especially when I was angry or frustrated or depressed. So what changed this time? I write in my journal directly after yoga, after the energy has moved through my body and my mind and heart are open. As with the yoga practice, I just show up. For the days where I have little to say, or basically nothing, I write a phrase that seems to be my current theme.

All I need is within.

Breathe
Breathe

Instead of trying to look outside myself and find the latest self help book or guru to lead me in a new direction, I’m looking within for the answers. I’m showing up to the mat. I’m opening the journal. Whatever comes out is what is supposed to be. No matter how little, or how crappy, it looks and I feel.

I’ve been consistent with these new habits for a month. Yes, between the two it takes about an hour every morning. Already though I’ve seen results. My back feels better. I’m moving more freely (which was even commented on in a recent exercise class). I’m pausing and taking deeper breaths and checking in with my body during the day.

The best result though? I’m working on my stories again. I’ve made more progress in the last month so far than I have in the previous six. I’m not asking for miracles with my stories or creating grandiose plans. I’m just showing up at my writing desk and working on a scene. One at a time. Solving one puzzle at a time.

There were times I thought I wouldn’t finish my stories, and that sent me into a spiral. It’s different now. There are no expectations. All I’m doing is showing up. So are they.

Once the energy in my body and the clutter from my mind cleared by doing yoga and writing in my journal, it paved the path for my stories to surface again.

That’s what has worked for me. Small changes. Baby steps. Just show up. The results may surprise you.

Snail image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Meditation image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crafting Variety

Where Magic Happens

Where the magic happens
Where the magic happens
A while back, my life coach (the amazing Lael Couper Jepson from SheChanges), and I were talking about space and its relation to my writing. I kept reiterating about wanting to write and publish my stories for the longest time. She gently nudged me to realize that unless I created the space and the time, it wasn’t going to happen. My stories were not a priority until I created that intention and honored my characters by giving them a place to exist. A place that wasn’t crowded with crafts or bills or horse magazines or random kitsch. Just my stories.

I thought I’d share the results of that introspection. I now have a comfortable and organized place that I write daily, filled with inspiration and reminders on how to weave the magic into my story lines.

For those burning desires in your heart – have you created the space and time necessary to make them a reality? It makes a difference.

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.