Category Archives: Creativity

Stuck in the Mud? I Guess Not.

I’ve felt stuck, unable to move forward or back, not even really spinning my wheels as the wheels aren’t turning. My red and white Fire & Ice quilt has been my major endeavor so far this year, and it’s still not done. Because of that, it feels (feeeeeeeeeeeels) like I don’t have anything to show for my year.

Not true.

In fact, I’ve done a few things I’m pleased with. Kim’s Bright Garden is one of the highlights so far. The real highlight is she loves it, and Son loves that she loves it. 🙂

Kim’s Bright Garden. 71″ x 71″. Finished March 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Another finish, which I don’t think I’ve shared with you, is a mystery quilt I made with my small group. The instructions called for strip piecing, but I wanted to use scraps. To find out if that would work, I looked forward in the directions, ruining the mystery but likely improving the quilt. For this I used all the bright pink, orange, green, and purple scraps from my scrap drawer, along with yellow background fabric and a pretty piece for the border. I donated this for my guild’s quilt show (June 2 and 3) silent auction.

Mock Irish Chain mystery quilt. Approx. 50″ x 70″. Finished spring 2017. I’m not sure who took the photo to promote our quilt show.

Early in the year I decided to make a pink and brown quilt using the Delectable Mountains design. My original intention was to make it the “easy” way, using large half-square triangles to create the jagged blocks. Because those blocks are not square, the construction confused me a bit and I opted to make them the old-fashioned way. The method suited the old-fashioned colors, as did the heavy feathering I used to quilt it. I did post a photo of the finished top, but not after it was quilted.

Delectable Mountains. 61″ x 61″. Finished spring 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

After making the pink and brown Delectable Mountains, I still wanted to create the design with the HST method. Googling images showed me how other people managed the problem of non-square blocks. Simply, they used small spacer blocks to adjust the sizing. Because my guild is having a special exhibit of red and white quilts, I decided to make the quilt again with the HST method. (Very long, not pretty story of why this quilt won’t be in the special exhibit. My nose is a bit out of joint, but it will heal, I suppose.) I don’t have a photo of the finished quilt yet (but it is done!), but here is the finished top. (And you can read more about it here if you wish.)

Hibiscus Mountain. Unfinished top. 73″ x 73″. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

In addition to these four finished quilts, I have three going that are not quite done. The biggest project by far is Fire & Ice, my other red and white quilt. (This one will be in the special exhibit, and even that is part of the long, not pretty story. UGH.) It is done with the exception of the binding and hanging sleeve. Today’s number one priority is to get those attached so the hand-finishing can commence.

Besides that, a niece has fallen in love with the muslin mock-up, which I created specifically to test quilting for the Fire & Ice project. It also is done except for binding. I’ll finish it and send it along to her.

Finally, I began a project with a paper-pieced spinning star. The top is done, the back is made, and the batting is cut. It’s loaded on the longarm frame now, and I hope to quilt it tomorrow and finish it before the end of the month. Here is the star center.

Along with all the quilting (it will be seven projects finished by mid-year,) I’ve put in a lot of time for other guild projects. I’m a little worn down by it all. My brother jokingly suggested that my next six quilts be constrained to red and white, to see how well I can work within the limitations. I told him that certainly is an idea, but “My next 6 quilts, whatever they are, will be with a joyful intention. That will be my constraint.” While all these quilts have been valuable to me for their lessons, it’s time to shift back to happiness in my quilting, as I found with Kim’s Bright Garden and Hibiscus Mountain. The joy is where the power is.

Happy Holiday!

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In my last post I mentioned I’ve been busy. 🙂 Besides doing a lot of guild work, I’ve also taken four classes so far this year. Two of the classes were for quilting. I took a paper piecing class through a local quilt shop, Cotton Creek Mill. One of the owners, Tara, gave a one-on-one lesson that taught me enough I could paper-piece the triangle border on a red and white quilt. The other class was a workshop offered by my guild by a visiting presenter. I made two blocks using her pattern and am using one of them as part of a fidget quilt for a dementia patient. (Mine is not as pretty as the one in the linked post.)

The other two classes were through the community college continuing education group. One was a linoleum block printing class and one was block printing on textiles. Besides learning some techniques, this was the most fun thing I did in those classes:

Jim and I will be hiking on Saturday and spending Sunday with family. I hope you have a great weekend, too!

More Drawings I Found

I’m still working on my red and white quilt. There are parts covering my design wall. I’m paper piecing the triangle borders. It is a slow, fussy process, but in fact I don’t mind it at all. Would not want to work this way all the time, but it’s fine for now.

Since it is all “parts” and not much new to show, I thought I’d share other drawings I found while looking for newsprint.

One of the drawings is dated 2003, and the other two would have been from the same general time. Coincidentally, or not, I made my first quilt in late 2003 for the birth of a granddaughter. At the time I assumed — I said out loud, numerous times — that I’d never make another quilt. Instead, I didn’t draw anymore, and I did make another quilt in early 2005.

sketch-boy

A young boy. Drawn from a photo of a painted portrait. The painting was likely from the early 1800s.

The next drawing is of Victor Weisskopf. He was a physicist with a wide-ranging and impressive career, including working on the Manhattan Project and chairing the physics department at MIT. The black-and-white photo I used to draw him was so striking, with beautiful lines and shadows of his strong features.

In these days when science and basic research are threatened, it’s worth noting this 1969 quote from Weisskopf: “The total cost of all basic research from Archimedes to the present is less than the value of ten days of the world’s present industrial production.”

sketch-man

Victor Weisskopf, physicist. Drawn from a photo of him found in a magazine.

sketch-woman

Drawn from a magazine ad.

I’ve had fun looking back at these old pictures, and I might muster the ambition to draw again. But there are always so many things to do, aren’t there?

Are there any arts or crafts from your past that you’ve given up? Did you play an instrument or tat or needlepoint? How about intricate origami? Any of them you’d like to resurrect? 

Looking For Newsprint I Found Something Else

On Friday I took a class on foundation paper piecing. Yes, I’m a little late to the game! I’ve always been able to do what I wanted without using the technique, but sometimes a block is more complex or sized in a way that makes it hard to do conventional piecing. It was time to add this skill to my toolkit.

The kit for the paper piecing class included a pattern printed on “foundation” paper. It reminded me of newsprint paper. It worked easily but seemed expensive. Many years ago, pre-quilting, I took a couple of art classes. I saved some of the supplies; perhaps I had a pad of newsprint with those things.

I didn’t. However, as I dug through the drawings (not terrible for a beginner!) and paintings (no comment,) I found this drawing done with watercolor pencils. Honestly I barely remember doing it. And now I rather regret I didn’t do more.

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Thinking About Goals — 2117

Maybe *over*thinking about goals? The other day I posted about goals — not that I got around to defining any! But I did look at a couple of ways one might develop quilt-making goals. One question was from Lori at the Inbox Jaunt. She asked

Imagine it’s the year 2117--and a family member has just inherited a trunk of your quilts.

What will YOUR quilts say about YOU?

Do they say what YOU want them to say?

It’s a great question about legacy and how we want to be remembered. By extension, it prods us to consider whether we are making the quilts that will create the heritage we wish. If not, why not? Should we change (or set) goals for our quilting?

After chewing on this for a while, I realized that I don’t care what people a hundred years from now think about me, or about my quilts. My quilts serve three purposes:

  1. expressions of creativity
  2. expressions of love
  3. expressions of compassion.

The three purposes overlap, but depending on the quilt, the priority differs. All three are immediate needs for me —  I need to express myself. Quilts made from love and compassion, however, may have a different duration of impact. And that depends on the receiver more than it does on me.

I’ll never know most of the people who receive my “compassion” or donation quilts. I hope the owners feel the warmth of the “blanket” as well as the intention. And I hope the quilts are loved, used, and washed until they are used up.

My wishes are the same for the quilts I make for those I love. I hope the quilts are used, preferably for comfort or warmth, or for decoration. (I’d rather not know about quilts used to protect furniture while moving, or to coddle a dog giving birth, or to soak up oil on the garage floor…)

The quilt below was a wedding quilt given a few years ago to friends. It hangs on their living room wall. We visit often enough that I can still enjoy it, and they boast of how it can be seen from the street, as well as inside.

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What legacy do I want to leave with my quilts? I hope that when I die, my loved ones will tell stories about my quilts and my quilting. Stories like how I took over our son’s bedroom for studio space while he was in college (and how he still hasn’t gotten over that, several years later!) Stories about a granddaughter working on a little brother’s quilt with me. Stories about the round robins my sister and I did. Stories about how a daughter and I got each other the same quilting book one year, a book long out of print and wildly expensive. I hope they will share the quilts I made with others, and I hope there are no pristine, never-used quilts of mine to discover one hundred years from now.