Making and Sharing

Writing, making music, painting, dancing, weaving, sculpting, quilting, creating garments, telling stories. Humans are creative beings. But even when we create “original” work, we cannot help but be inspired by others.

It is easy to note inspirations for the product of our efforts. I’m inspired by other quilters and their work, by color combinations I see in nature, by rows of brightly painted cottages along a canal, by aboriginal art.

I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired in other ways, too. I’m inspired in how to make, as well as what to make. Hearing how someone’s work habits help them produce more and better art inspires me to consider my own work habits. For example, it’s easy to get stuck in the midst of a project, ultimately putting it away and moving on to something else. (How else are UFOs created?) Elizabeth Barton suggests pecking away at it with “one a day.”  If you break your project into small parts and only commit to doing one small part a day, as long as you persist, you will finish your project.

Like the old aphorism, “writers write,” makers make. Last year I shared with you the rules for working as laid out by Corita Kent. According to Kent, the only rule is work.

Another aspect of making is sharing. Austin Kleon has written the book on sharing as a means of improving in your art. Show Your Work is based on ten principles of creating and sharing. They are

  1. You don’t have to be a genius.
  2. Think process, not product.
  3. Share something small every day.
  4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
  5. Tell good stories.
  6. Teach what you know.
  7. Don’t turn into human spam.
  8. Learn to take a punch.
  9. Sell out.
  10. Stick around.

Five of those resonate with me in particular. Process, not product; share, tell good stories, and teach; and stick around. The one at which I do worst is sharing, especially on a regular basis. I often wait until a project is nearly done before showing it here. Why? In truth, a big reason is I’m not a photographer. I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it, and I don’t like interrupting my creative time to document what I’m doing. And while I usually can articulate why I’m making the decisions I make, I hesitate to spend the time to share that with you, especially while the decisions are in process. But the result is I often share product, not process. This gives the illusion that a product sprung from my brain and my sewing machine as a completed work. It didn’t…

Here is a project that has been both easy and hard. The top is complete, approximately 43″ x 48″. I need to contemplate how to quilt it. Binding likely will be in teal.


This post is not the one in which to share process. However, this post is the one in which to pledge to share more process, more often.

I pledge to share my work in process,
and thoughts about that process, more often. 

Making and sharing. Both.


22 thoughts on “Making and Sharing

  1. allisonreidnem

    Austin Kleon’s list intrigues me. It’s not really about blogging I guess but as a platform for sharing creativity there is a danger of sharing a little bit each day (3) on a blog turning us into human spam (7)! I need to practice telling good stories (5). Looking forward to receiving more insights to your process.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, at what point does sharing become spamming? If you blog daily, is that spam? Maybe that depends not on frequency as much as value. hmm… And yes on story telling. I say that to Jim a lot, that I need to figure out how to tell a better story. THanks.

  2. snarkyquilter

    Let me add a small bit to your lists – don’t take yourself too seriously. Oh, and a guideline – spend at least 15 minutes a day with your craft/art, even if it’s just putting away fabric. Congrats on following Miss Frizzle’s advice on this latest piece: get messy.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh yes, don’t take yourself too seriously. That’s a good one. I don’t actually spend time EVERY day doing stuff. Some days I don’t go downstairs at all. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it…

      Yeah, I love the messy in this piece. 🙂

  3. cjh

    Pretty fabulous. After you get to know an artist/maker, the process is somewhat discernible within the work/product. Do you agree or disagree with this?

    I like this very much and it’s inspiring and gratifying to see what you did with the fabrics I saw you pick out.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks! I think the African center is the only one of these I bought when we were together. I can’t remember, though, if the brown sticks was that week or in Feb last year… ??

      As to process being discernible for a familiar artist, I don’t know. Will have to think on that.

        1. cjh

          Oops, forgot to add: it’s probably hopeless to ever think you might know someone well. often when you think you have a slight grasp on someone, they change and slip away.

        2. Melanie McNeil Post author

          If you remember the brown sticks, I must have bought them with you. I’d also gone to a centralized “shop hop” a couple weeks before with Beth, so I couldn’t remember when I bought them.

          And yes, people do change and slip away…

  4. KerryCan

    There’s a lot to ponder here! Good stuff, worth thinking about more deeply. The Barton “one-a-day” idea works very well for me, although I think I wrote about it as doing a daily stint. I can be happily productive by chipping away at projects this way.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t necessarily work on projects every day, but I do persist, generally. And recognizing that each step, including the ones I don’t particularly enjoy, is part of the process, helps me get over the “I don’t wanna!” moments.

  5. Quilt Musings

    I think my favorite in there is the hint, “There will be new rules next week.” And of the real rules, “Consider everything an experiment.” That works in far more than quilt making!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, good rules. And then there are Fulghum’s rules: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.


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