Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When It Rains & Blows

I got home from work early on Monday. The governor declared a state of emergency, so all workers were asked to get home safely before the weather got really bad. My area was not hit directly by hurricane Sandy, but we were expected to lose electricity at some point during the night due to the high winds. 

Not wanting to risk damage to the computer electronics in my sewing machine, I settled myself down and trimmed some of these Exquisite blocks. It's profoundly boring work, which is why I don't make quilts like this very often and then only for people I love. This one is going to my dear friend R, who considers me her "Chosen Mother." She specifically asked for this design, in blue.

 This photo was taken while standing on a stool looking down at the first seven rows of the quilt. (There will be 23 rows in all.) Sharp eyed viewers will notice I have used a variety of WOWs and I have occasionally inserted fabrics other than blue.

We all know I don't follow rules real well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

WGO (What's Going On)

I view cooking as simply another creative act, so I consider this:

an achievement.

 It's my bread (very like a Challah bread) with the addition of fontina cheese and finely chopped chives, Instead of sprinkling the loaves with sesame seeds, here I've used grated Parmesan cheese.  As you can see I've helped myself already. I made my favorite sandwich, a BLT with this bread for lunch. I did, however, go the luxury route and added slices of fresh avocado.  Yum.

Then I went into the sewing studio and sewed up some of these:

How are you keeping yourself occupied this weekend?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Want Ideas? Get Input.

I am always rather befuddled when folks tell me they don't get any ideas.  Frankly, I have a hard time believing it.  Really? I mean REALLY?  Not even ONE? Maybe the idea-less are expecting ideas to be BIG, AMAZING, COMPLETELY ORIGINAL and GIFT-WRAPPED, ready for immediate use.

In that case, my friends, you are going to be bitterly disappointed.  Ideas come from all around you, and they never come fully formed. It is said humor is the juxtaposition of incongruous things.  In other words, it's the unexpected. Ideas are like that.

The spark that generates the idea is the AHA! moment when something clicks because you've just made a connection.  But you can't get that AHA! moment unless you have things to connect. That's where INPUT comes in.  You have to collect it.  Sometimes it can be a box of pictures, or clippings from magazines, or it's a sketchbook.
I collect quotes. I keep them in a box.  When I search for a phrase for a word quilt, this is the first place I look.

But it's also important to keep an eye out for things that catch your attention, and RECOGNIZE they've caught your attention.  You don't need to know WHY!  Everybody has a phone that has a camera nowadays. When you see something that catches your fancy, take a photo.

Will I ever make a quilt inspired by the colors of these tiny little birds?

I don't know, but I would NEVER have been able to remember the astounding color combination had I not taken a few photos.  The black under the beak, that intense light blue next to the purple of the breast, with a RED head and brilliant green back and yellow stomach... it's fabulous. I'd have never thought of that on my own.  But these little birds were fluttering around when I visited a Butterfly "zoo."  So I took a picture, to remember.

To be creative, to be imaginative, to hope to be either, you must open yourself up to the world around you. Read, look, be aware.  Go see some art, even if it isn't what you "do." Is there an Art Museum in your town? GO! Most public museums have free admission some time. At the Currier, in my town, it's Saturday between 10 AM and 2 PM. Look around.  Don't slavishly read every label. Just wander and look at whatever catches your fancy. Don't look only at the stuff you think you like, look at everything. 

Walk through the galleries in your city.  Get out.  Look around.

You have an imagination. It's hungry.  Feed it!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Getting From "A" to "B"

When viewers look at my quilts, I am often asked "How did you come up with that idea?,  "Where did that come from?"

I often struggle with an answer, not because I don't have one, but because I am amazed that people struggle with ideas.  To me, ideas are all over the place - my problem is choosing ONE to play with.

I'll talk about getting ideas later, but for now, I want to explain what got me started with the Black Box quilt.  In other words, I want to tell you how I got from "A" to "B."

At work I often work with the Accounting Team, and frequently voucher the invoices.  I look at a LOT of invoices.  Just after the first of the year, one of our vendors changed their logo and the new logo for Index Packaging had this image of an open box.  I thought it was interesting, but didn't think much about why it attracted my attention.

Between making my unique quilts with letters and houses I make fairly straightforward quilts. (Insofar as The Red Sticks and Laughing Out Loud are "straightforward") Mostly it's just a way to relax.  Right after I started working on the Red Sticks, I wrote a blog post about getting to work. It was "Pick Up The Pencil."  Shortly afterward I was reading Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit. I'd had it for years, but this time when I picked it up the title of Chapter 5 really hit me.

 A box! I thought of the logo for Index Packaging... that open box! (We get invoices from Index Packaging about once a week, so that open box registered in my brain on a regular basis.) What was different about that image was the fact the box was OPEN and you could see INSIDE! When I think of a box, I think of a package that gets delivered by the post office or UPS. I think of a brown carton, sealed up, closed. THIS BOX was OPEN, indicating things could come OUT of it!  BINGO! Two separate things - the quote and the image of the open box, now fit perfectly together.  I drew this in my sketchbook:

As soon as the idea was on paper, I knew this would be my next quilt. I didn't have the whole concept clear in my head. I knew the box would be slightly wider at the bottom, to be reminiscent of a magician's hat. I knew the words "out of the box" would be in an arc above the box. I knew the box would be black, and I knew the box should be coming out of the dark somehow. I also wanted the flaps to look like a real box.

I did not have all the answers, but I wasn't worried, because I knew that ideas get generated through the process of working. A few days later I wrote a post about the new quilt, and I've shared the process of creating and making the quilt over the last few months.

Remember though, a great idea is only an idea until you make it real. Having an idea is nice, being able to execute your idea is good, but having the confidence to keep pushing through roadblocks is vital.

The first step, the idea, will "hit" you in an AHA moment when you least expect it, but only if you've been "collecting" things that inspire you.  More on that later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finishing Up The Black Box

I've prepared the backing and the binding for the Black Box quilt. Here is the backing I have selected:
I bought it this past summer when I was thinking of magic and a theater as a setting for the Black Box.  It's probably not what I might have selected now, but I love the fabric, and it will be great.

For the binding, I found this:
I don't want the binding to be an edge around the quilt. I want the binding to practically disappear.

I want to make a hanging sleeve before I send the quilt to be quilted. It's nice to have everything ready to finish it up when the quilt comes back from being quilted.

Then I did this:
I cleaned the studio. I can't tell you how good this makes me feel!

Friday, October 12, 2012

As You Wish

The Black Box, about 82" high  x 65" wide. Original design, made by me, Lynne Tyler without templates, patterns and NOT paper-pieced.

It also exhibits one of my most profound beliefs, that you should leave the evidence of your hand in your work. You do not want anybody to think it was made by a machine. Sometimes if it's too "perfect" it's boring, static and mechanical. One of the things I like best about "free piecing" is that it keeps the energy, the verve, the spark, the liveliness, intact.

I know there are lots of quilters who disagree, but I came from the Art world, where the purpose of Art is to elicit emotions, and I try to bring that to my quilts.

**btw, I've disabled (finally!) the Lightbox feature so when you click the photo, you can then click again to enlarge it and see the details.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sleeping with Quilts

I sleep with all my quilts. (Doesn't that sound suggestive?)

The Black Box Quilt is finished. It has reached "flimsy" stage.  It's about 65" x 82", and I am very happy with it.

Do you want to see a picture?  (I mean a big picture of the finished flimsy.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Almost There....

Everything in this photo is all sewn together.

If the photo isn't as sharp as it could be, remember I am taking the photo standing on a ladder, holding the camera out at arm's length, trying to take a picture of the quilt on the floor, lit by an ordinary ceiling fixture hanging a few feet to my right.

(sound effect of Lynne dancing the happy dance of joy)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halleluljah! We Have a Box!


The box itself is finished, and the whole panel lies FLAT!  It's not perfect, but it's perfect.  It's what I wanted and I am very, very happy.  Finishing the quilt will be very easy from now on, and I can't wait!

Woo Hoo!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Box is Black

While this doesn't look like much, it's actually the result of quite a lot of work. I've revamped the way the rays attach to the box on the left side. I've replaced the very decorative box fabric with my original fabrics - a solid black and a black-on-black. I've re-made most of the flaps on the box, and the fabrics surrounding them.  I've re-sized the box. (This one is shorter.) I've modified the rays at the bottom of the box.

I'm not finished - the center seam is not sewn up yet.  My body ran out of gas and my back was hurting, so I had to stop for the night.

In THEORY, sewing the center seam of the box last will allow me to keep the panel flat and also allow me a bit of "wiggle room" if I need it.

We'll see.  When I finish this panel, I'll sew it to the "Before you can think" and the "you have to start with a box" panels and... the quilt top will be finished!

Which will be pretty cool, considering I started working on it eight months ago.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Black Box Returns!

It was a rough day at work yesterday. (Insert rant here)...

Anyway, I decided that I really really really needed to get myself in the sewing studio and let the creative act wash away the dust and detritus of, well, you know.

The arcs now lie flat, as does the opening of the box.  Rejiggering that caused the sides of the box to flatten out, which is not what I want. No biggie, I can fix that.  The really amusing thing is, if I had stuck to my original plan of assembling the quilt... well, I wouldn't have had any of these problems.

Speaking of which, I might just toss that really nifty box fabric completely and go back to my original idea of black. This box is too tall anyway, and I want a bit more rays coming out the bottom than what I ended up with back in mid-September. Sometimes it's good to step back for a while.  It gives you the resolve to make wholesale changes for the better.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The "Jewelry"

At work, those of us involved with the new conference room have been referring to the new computer devices as the room's "jewelry."  Here are three of our proudest pieces.
 First, this 60" flat screen tv/monitor.
Next, this almost eight foot wide interactive whiteboard. We'll be able to draw on this whiteboard and save our work to a computer.
Last but not least is the ceiling mounted projector (it's the black box in the upper right hand corner) capable of projecting an 10 foot wide image onto the wall opposite. Nobody will ever be able to say they can't read the numbers on a presentation ever again.

I am very proud to be a part of the renovations but I have to tell you it is wearing me out. I got home very late last night, and by the time I had eaten my dinner it was 9 PM.  I've been spending my downtime sacked out on the couch with a few good books, notably the Walt Longmire series by author Craig Johnson. How good are they? I've read three in the last week.