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

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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

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