Friday, July 24, 2015

It's not a mistake, it's a new design!

Everyone makes mistakes.  It's part of life. As an art quilter, I get asked by friends to do all kinds of things fiber related.  (I imagine that's true of people in many different fields, not just artists!)  This was one of those cases.

Our car club needed a backdrop for an event at the beach.  It sounded like a fun thing to do and something I hadn't done before so I agreed to do it. Life's an adventure!   Here's the backdrop in use:
My backdrop for the Funkhana
The main challenge in creating it (other than the size--I don't usually work so large!) was adding the lettering. I printed out the letters on regular printer paper. Then, I taped the sheets together with correct spacing and ironed a long strip of freezer paper* on top, cut out the letters and removed the typing paper. (Note to self--don't use steam for this part--it makes the paper stick a bit too much to the freezer paper, which makes it difficult to remove.) This left me with a long stencil that could be ironed onto the background. It mostly turned out great!

It was a learning experience, though. One thing I learned, though, was to NOT go back and add more paint after the freezer paper stencil got quite wet and started to dry--as the paper starts to lift up from the fabric. After finishing the painting I lifted the freezer paper from the canvas. Aargh! Leakage!
Paint leaked under my stencil. Drat!
Leaks happen....
After throwing down my brush, jumping up and down and saying several magic artist words, I considered my options and set to work.  In this case, I was able to lift enough of the leakage by re-wetting to then paint over what was left so it looked good. Whew! One can't always do that, though.

Which brings me my philosophy on quilting mistakes. "It's not a mistake, it's a design opportunity!" Or, as my friend Lynda Prioleau says, "Put a button on it!" I'm really, really, really lazy. So I hate ripping things out and look for every possible reason not to do it. Honestly, in most cases, unless you tell someone, no one will notice...and if they notice, they won't think it's a mistake. So don't point it out.

Sometimes, though, things will bug you and you have to be creative. Fusing stuff on top is always good. Or adding buttons. Slice and dice to add more fabric in there. (I've done this when the border fabric I wanted to use wasn't enough.) Paint. Appliqué. And, every now and then, rip something out. I DO have a seam ripper. I did that when I inked the wrong date on a gift for a friend. I had to rip out a set in piece with curved seams. Ouch, that hurt! But that's always my last resort.

I have a quote that's perfect for those times when mistakes happen. I don't know who first said this, or where I got it--it's just written down in my sketchbook:
If plan
A favorite saying....
Words to live by. Everyone have a great day! And don't sweat the small stuff. As they say, it's all small stuff! *Freezer paper is white with a plastic-y coating on the back to make it waterproof. It's been used for a long time to wrap meats before putting them in the freezer. Reynolds has it; some grocery stores carry it. It has instructions on the box now for how to use it in quilting. The coated side will melt just enough to temporarily stick to fabric, making it ideal for templates and stencils. It peels off fairly easily when you're ready.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lecture by Denyce Schmidt

I attended a lecture recently by Denyse Schmidt, courtesy of the DC Modern Quilt Guild. (Didn't think to take a picture until the end of her lecture, sorry!  I was too immersed in her talk.)
Denise Schmidt Lecture
Denyse Schmidt Lecture at Northern VA Community College in Alexandria, VA. Sponsored by the DC Modern Quilt Guild.
If you're not familiar with Denyse, here's an excerpt from her bio:  

A former graphic designer and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Denyse Schmidt has been sewing since she was a young girl, taught by her mother. As a professional seamstress, Denyse worked on everything from tutus and bishop’s mitres to fine clothing. She brings these eclectic influences together in patchwork quilts characterized by simple graphics, rich color, and quality workmanship.

Firmly rooted in the techniques of quilt-making in this country, Denyse reinterprets tradition to make modern functional quilts that are fresh and offbeat. Her Couture custom quilts, in production since 1996, are pieced to order in her studio and hand-quilted by Amish women in Minnesota. Denyse Schmidt Works, a line of machine-quilted pillows and quilts with an industrial-chic aesthetic, are made at her studio located in a Bridgeport, CT factory building. Clients of DSQ have included The Philip Johnson Glass House, Ralph Pucci International, Takashimaya, The University of Michigan Art Museum, The American Folk Art Museum, and The Whitney Museum Store.  

You can find a full bio of her here.  

The lecture was really fascinating; Denyse talked about her quilting journey from a graphic designer to a quilter.  I was particularly interested in her approach to her business.  She had a great slideshow with pictures of her work and great motivational quotes along the way.  

  If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. --George Harrison  

 There were two main points I took away from the lecture.  One is to be ready for unexpected opportunities.  Denyse got involved in several business opportunities that she wasn't looking for, but that she said "Yes" to.    

  You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.  --Jack London  

 Be ready.  Take a chance.  Don't be afraid.  I'm writing this, in part, to remind myself of this.  It's a good mantra.  

 The second, which is a kind of corollary to the first, is that there is life after failure.  Denyse talked about her failures as well as her successes.  It's pretty inspirational to hear someone at that level say they've failed...and then had success again.  

  When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. - Eloise Ristad  

 We all have failures, large and small.  A failed quilt that we really believed in that didn't turn out the way we thought when we started.  A harsh critique.  A show with no sales.  A birthday where we forgot to send a card. A day where we made no progress on our art. We are our own harshest critic.  The world's full of people who have failed spectacularly, in full view, and keep moving on.  I'm forever grateful that my failures are mostly tucked away in a corner of my studio in a pile of UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  (Gotta go through those and rework some, give away some and throw the rest away.  *makes note on to-do list*  Others are tucked into sketchbooks--partially fleshed out ideas that didn't come together.  

 Speaking of UFOs, this is probably my favorite quote about failure and it is soooo applicable for quilters:  

  I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. - Thomas A. Edison  

 Doesn't that make you think of your UFOs?  Hey, if it worked for Edison, it works for me.  

 As I write this, it's a cooler-than-normal morning.  The windows and patio door are all open and I can hear the birds singing.  I think it's time to go to work and see what small successes (and failures) I can find in the day.    

 Have a great day!