Tag Archives: Power Builders

Fairy Border 3

Though I struggled some to find border 2, border 3 was easier for me to envision. It finishes at 3.5″, so whatever I did had to be petite in scale. I decided on plus blocks using all the colors from the center. In particular, I wanted to include the acid yellow.

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I Found the Housework Fairy But She’s Not Coming Back. Through 3rd border, crooked on my design wall. Finishing at this stage at 35″.

Color in Medallions
Why add the yellow in border 3? It’s found in the center block in some of the flowers surrounding the fairy. In fact, if you look at the center block carefully, you’ll see lots of colors you might not have noticed at first glance. There are several variations of greens and purples; strong dark red and bright orange, aqua and shell pink. Those are all repeated (in some form) within borders 1 and 2. The aqua is alluded to with the turquoises; the shell pink is echoed in the darker pinks.

Adding the yellow in border 3 repeats the color from the center block. Its use allows it to be used again, at any time, in outer frames of the quilt. If it didn’t show up until the final border, you might think, “Huh. I wonder why she used yellow. That doesn’t make sense…” 🙂 Though it is in the center already, it will look more natural used multiple times.

One quilt design expert has suggested that colors need to be used within the central third of the quilt, in order to use them later. This quilt will finish at 60″. That would mean everything would have to show up in the center 20″. Frankly, that’s a lot stricter rule than I’ll use. But it’s good to keep in mind.

You might notice I’ve added blue in the third border. There isn’t any real blue in the center, though the other cool colors stem from blue. That batik corner block in the second border is as close as it comes to adding blue (and golden yellow appears there, too.) But I did put it in this border, specifically to “reserve the right” to use it again later. I have a great print I might use, and it has a little blue in it. Added into the rest of the array in the third border, it fits right in.

Medallions are great vehicles for using lots of fabrics, including scraps. With the stash I have and the way I work, I often run out of fabric pieces in the middle of a project. Substitutions occur to the point that I don’t even consider them substitutions. I just figure out what will work instead.

More important than using a specific fabric (which generally is not important, IMO) is using a reference to the color. That means if you’re using purple batiks in your quilt, using another purple batik will almost surely work fine, regardless of placement in the quilt. So all my colors of green work fine together, and I can add any similar green across the rest of the quilt.

In fact, the more variations of a color you use, the better. It adds depth and richness to the look. And it gives you, the quilter, so much flexibility and opportunity for fun. In the plus blocks, I used a number of scraps that simply make me happy to see them again. The lavender with bright butterflies, the light turquoise with tiny flowers, both hold memories for me, as do other pieces.

Value
Value is another design element we can control with the fabric we use. I wrote about it here. You can choose to have high contrast or low contrast between patches and between borders. Both can be very effective, but it is something you should choose, not let happen by accident.

First, decide whether you want a low-volume (low value contrast) quilt or one with higher contrast. I generally prefer higher contrast across the quilt, though I may deliberately choose lower contrast in a particular border. For example, the Fairy’s third border is low contrast, with mostly medium values. To balance that and provide some interest and depth across the quilt, I might design the fourth border to include more lights and darks. In particular, I’ll probably use light values against the third border, to create instant contrast.

Size Issues
When the second border was attached, the center (center block and attached borders) was 28″ finished. The third border finishes at 3.5″. I chose this width purposely, because I can divide 28 by 3.5 and have an “easy” number to use: 28/3.5 = 8. So if I use (only) 3.5″ square blocks in the border, I’ll have 8 of them on each side. (I could have chosen a 4″ wide border and used 7 4″ squares: 7×4 = 28. But I didn’t pick 4″ because border 2 is 4″ wide. There is no rule for this, but I think adjacent borders often look more pleasing if they are different widths.)

In fact, I chose to use square blocks, but I decided on 3″ squares, and only 7 of them: 7×3 = 21. My little blocks only fill 21″ of the 28″ available. And of course they only fill 3″ of the 3.5″ width.

Let’s start with the width. Since they are only part of the width, I added a half-inch spacer to each. Varying the orientation of the spacer, against border 2 or away from it, allows the blocks to float. They have a more whimsical appearance than if they marched along beside each other, and it suits the nature of the fairy fabric. This floating effect is an experiment for me, as I’ve not done it before. I like the way it looks.

Now for the length. I had room for 8 3″ blocks: 8×3 = 24. I chose 7 blocks because that allows a different layout. Consider:

8 blocks:
A B A B A B A B
This shows one A block against border 2, one B block away, repeating until all 8 blocks are used. The corner blocks would have been situated differently at each end of this stretch.

7 blocks:
A B A B A B A
This shows a different pattern, with the A block against border 2 at the beginning and ending of border 3. The corner blocks are situated the same at each end of this stretch.

Using 7 blocks took up 21″ of 28″. I had 7 inches leftover. Because I started and ended my borders with spacer units, there were 8 spacer units on each border: 7″/8 = 7/8″. It was easy to do this math, too.

To summarize, each border used 7 3″ blocks. To make them fit for width, I added a half-inch piece to each to finish at 3.5″. To make them fit for length (as a border,) I separated them with 8 spacer units, each 7/8″ long.

Why?
Why do I tell you all this? So you can see this is all steps that can be learned. I don’t have any magical talent at this conferred by a wave of the skills fairy’s wand. These are all decisions, and if you care to, you can learn how to make these decisions, too. Your decisions will be different from mine, as they should be.

Break away from patterns. Be powerful. Make your own quilt, your way.

Power Builders 04.17.15

This is Week #11 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

When you are stuck in your art, do you ask “can I do this hard thing?” Or do you ask, “HOW can I do this hard thing? Here are a couple of items on the HOW of art.

1) I can’t help but put this first. John Bramblitt is a painter. As a younger man he lost his sight to epilepsy. As he puts it, his eyes work fine, but his vision processing center does not. After adjusting to his new world, he asked “how?” That simple question led to amazing art. Please watch this video, and check his site linked with his name. There are more videos under the site link for them.

2) Here’s a wonderful story through Huffington Post on an exhibition in San Francisco. The artists collaborated in pairs at Creativity Explored, a “nonprofit art center and gallery where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art.” The art, processes, and friendships developed are worth your attention.

3) A term used in the item linked above is “outsider art.” This refers to art created by those who are self-taught and working outside of the “artistic establishment.” Another who fits this description is quilter Diane Rose. She has made more than 900 quilts, all while totally blind. Enjoy this interview with her.

4) Think you’re having trouble with “how?” I stumbled on this post on breaking creative blocks with a beginner’s mind. With some description of how we learn and problem-solve, the essay continues with some suggestions for rethinking the problem, including “approaching tasks with an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions, even if you’re already an ‘expert’ at it. It’s the ultimate way to give yourself a fresh perspective.” I especially like the tip on practicing at being a beginner: “Action: Think like a beginner and act deliberately: try, fail/succeed, and then try again. Ultimately you’ll discover things you might have missed originally.” For me, using this approach purposefully has allowed me a greater range of solutions for any given problem.

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.

Power Builders 04.10.15

This is Week #10 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Few things are more inspiring than seeing the creativity of others. Today’s post will highlight a few museums to inspire you. 

1) From Craftsy, a list of quilt museums across the U.S. I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few, including the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, NE. “The center houses the world’s largest publicly held quilt collection. The more than 4,500 quilts and related ephemera date from the early 1700s to the present and represent more than 25 countries.” Kalona, IA’s Quilt & Textile Museum is a stone’s throw away from me. And I recently enjoyed a visit to the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. From the site, “The Museum’s vibrant and breathtaking exhibits are rotated 8-10 times per year. The primary gallery, with over 7,000 square feet of exhibit space, features quilts from the Museum’s collection which includes over 320 works of art. The Museum’s additional galleries feature touring and thematic exhibits of unique and diverse works of art.”

The Craftsy post includes links for museum and exhibits in other parts of the country, as well.

2) We’re all familiar with names of huge museums in big cities. Have you ever wondered about smaller gems? Your local university may have one. collegerank.net lists the “50 most amazing college museums.” The University of Iowa is on that list, partly for the world-class African art collection. (Unfortunately, we still don’t have our art housed in town, because the 2008 flood destroyed the museum. All the art escaped safely.) Other worthy museums include those highlighting arts of various periods and origins, geology and natural history, design, archealogy and anthropology, among other subjects. Check the list, check your local colleges and universities. You may be surprised at the wonders you’ll find!

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Rusty, the giant sloth in the University of Iowa’s Natural History Museum.

3) From Icarus to Space X, we continue to be fascinated by flight. The age of air and space travel has spawned an enormous amount of art of all kinds. See what some of the fuss is about at museums devoted to the history of flight. The big one, of course, is the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. But don’t limit yourself to it. Across the country you can find other venues, including the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon, the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, NE, and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, in Dover, OH.

4) Quilting is often considered a folk art, but there are other arts in that category. Woodworking, ceramics, metals, textiles, all display the ingenuity of humans to design and create the useful arts. Wikipedia provides a list of 31 folk art museums, including some near you. All entries on the wiki page link to other wiki pages. Dig a little deeper (google them yourself) to find out more.

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.

Power Builders 04.03.15

This is Week #9 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Throes of Creation by Leonid Pasternak, from Wikipedia’s entry on “Writer.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer

Do you need to be published to be a writer? No. You just need to write. Writers write. Here are a few links about writing, storytelling, and persuasion. I’m not sure if they are inspiring, but perhaps they’ll lead you to think about how we communicate with others.

1) Three truths about writing, from Parker J. Palmer, via On Being With Krista Tippett.

2) From vox.com, “Want to know the secret to all good storytelling — and even all good writing?” We’re treated to three more essentials, this time words, which lead to more effective writing. We’re also warned off from the toxic connector, “and then.”

3) I’ve started following Seth Godin’s blog. He “is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.” His blog includes mostly short notes on how we convey information, tell stories, and sell ourselves and our products. Here is a very short post from last year.

4) Writers are always told, “Show, don’t tell.” Our brains are visually-oriented. This post from IFL Science (via ArtsJournal) describes research into how we process words on the page, as pictures. Perhaps we need to rethink the old advice and figure out how to make our words even more visual.

5) The picture superiority effect is the impact of pictures on memory retention. Words PLUS pictures leads to better retention.

6) But as for persuasion, the written word and pictures aren’t very useful in changing someone’s mind. You can confirm for them what they already believe, and provide examples and supports for that view. But if they have the opposite view from what is written, it will not convince them they are wrong. Facts just don’t matter. Instead, try a spoken conversation. Ask them to explain, in detail, why they believe what they do. What are the mechanisms by which their theory works? This video explains how to change someone’s mind.

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.

Power Builders 03.27.15

This is Week #8 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Today’s focus is on inspiration and also on how we share that. 

1) Do you remember Bobby McFerrin? Most people will associate him with the ubiquitous song of 1988, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. What they may not realize is that breakthrough song was only part of a long career, both before and since. With ten Grammy awards, he’s as well known now for his improvisational chops, shifting effortlessly in wordless song. He carries his audience along with joy. The reason I’m including him as a power builder is that his goal in performing is to provide listeners with unparalleled joy, a new perspective on creativity, rejection of the predictable, and a sudden, irreversible urge to lead a more spontaneous existence.” We can all use more of that!

Here are two links to let you explore more. First is an interview with the site On Being with Krista Triplett.  To listen, hit the PLAY EPISODE link on the upper right of the page. While the site has a spiritual focus, and indeed the interview includes discussion of his spirituality, the real emphasis of the interview is McFerrin’s artistic inspiration. The second link is a wildly popular demonstration of the musical pentatonic scale. He leads his audience in singing with his movements. While leading the audience, he sings as well, a different set of notes. You must see and hear it to believe it.

2)  Bill Watterson, the creator of the much-beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, is a completely different kind of artist from Bobby McFerrin, but he also led us in rejecting the predictable, and in a new view of creativity. In this Washington Post interview, he discusses his inspirations, as well as the development of his art over many years.

3) While on the topic of inspirations, here is a short overview called “Inspiration: Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas?  Not surprisingly, one of the prime sources through time is religion and ritual. But we also use art to record history, tell stories, teach lessons, preserve images, and experiment with media.

4) Inspiration is a key to making art, but art is limited in value if not shared. Here is an interesting article on the value of art museum field trips, especially for children whose world may be narrower due to economic or other family circumstances. The lesson for those of us with the privilege of art may be simply to share it more generously.

So what good does a field trip to an art museum do? Researchers catalogued a range of benefits for those who went, ranging from critical thinking skills to measures of tolerance and “historical empathy,” but perhaps the most striking finding is how magnified those benefits were across the board for children from schools in rural areas and serving low-income populations, with effect sizes double or triple those of other students. In fact, most of the positive impact from these field trips accrued to students who had never been to Crystal Bridges before, whereas “much smaller or null effects” were observed in relatively more privileged students who presumably have easier access to enriching experiences like this one.

5) From openculture.com, a post on street art. Google is providing location information for more than 10,000 items of street art, freely shared for all to see.

6) Finally, a fabulous source of vintage artwork from books at reusableart.com. This is all in the public domain due to age. Take a look at the categories on the left margin. They range from animals and alphabets to transportation and trees.

Artist unknown, from the book The Old Oak Tree by Miss Moncrieff, 1881.

 

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.