Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reach Out and Touch

It's been an intensely arty couple of weeks. No time to think about blogging. Sure, the Internet encourages instant sharing: it's possible to finish a piece of art or a step in a piece or a thought about a step in a piece, and within minutes your blog world fans can be there with you communing, commenting, commiserating, cheering. All the sharing, so warm and fuzzy...or eventually tiring and meaningless? I mean, how many times in one day or week can we find something that someone has done or said to be remarkable, say something witty about it, be kind and helpful, contribute in any useful manner?

At what point as an artist do you need to shut the door and just be with yourself, your muse, and your process? Too much Internet sharing and we not only lose time and energy better spent on the art, but we lose the integrity of our own vision. A poem (by someone who hasn't written one since high school):

We like too much,
we see too much.
Our art becomes homogeneous.

So as much as I love my blogging, online classes and forums, I am trying (with baby steps) to back off just a little, and give myself breathing room to work. That said, let me show you the recent reality.

One of the most constant creative muses in my recent life has been textile artist extraordinaire, Jude Hill, a true original. She doesn't teach her designs, she teaches how to design, how to think about design, how to let go of the rules and be original. Of course, we, her students, will tend to mimic her as we study, but we are learning something so much bigger as we build the pieces to a new type of "quilt" art, based on something ancient, but thoroughly modern at the same time.

Jude makes all her art by labor intensive hand sewing, and sells very little of it. So recently, when a small piece I had admired (as I watched it be born on her blog) found its way to her shop just at the moment I was paying attention, I was able to adopt this lovely creation. "The Edgekeeper" now lives in my sewing studio and looks over my shoulder as I work. Along with this small cloth came some of her magic thread, and an extra surprise cut from a piece of her exploratory work--treasures all!

The "Edgekeeper" under a March full moon

Fellow student and follower, deanna, has a marvelous blog that recently celebrated 200 entries with a giveaway, and somehow, on April Fools Day, I had my name drawn from the basket to win. Deanna's gift will serve as a daily reminder that my Internet friends are real (and talented) people.

A gift of friendship in my mailbox today

Lucy likes it! She says--no reason a pin cushion can't be beautiful.

Meanwhile my very real Designing Women met this week for the first time since the passing of our best pal, Jeri, in late February. It was a bittersweet reunion, because Jeri loved to try anything new, and missed out on a day of relaxed creative fun, food, and sharing. I passed along, to a great reception, the technique of making craft foam stamps that resemble entire paintings (as learned the best I could) from the article "Faux Silkscreen"by Patricia Gaignet, in the September/October issue of "Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine."

My friend, Jeanette, created the stamp, and gave me free reign
 to customize  a picture for myself.

For the past five weeks, I have been taking two classes online. One is "Mixed Media with Paper and Cloth" by Jane LaFazio, that has kept me massively busy producing parts and possibilities of interesting pieces that I will continue to work on for months to come. So far two are done (or nearly so.)

Time Machine--how a small paper/fabric collage became a quilt

Detail view to the layers of color and texture

Comfy Chair--mixed media paper on painted canvas,
 adapted from an original watercolor journal page

The other is an introductory course in shibori, or the Japanese art of shaped dyeing of cloth. It is taught by "Shibori Girl," Glennis Dolce. Motifs are dyed into cloth (rather than printed on the surface) through a combination of folding and clamping, stitching and drawing up, and wrapping around poles with string. The designs can be simple or complex, but are never identically the same twice. Again, I will be working on my own for many moons (an inside joke) to really put in the necessary practice to feel even somewhat accomplished.

Itajime Shibori--overdyeing with resists

Stitched shibori--mokume (wood grain)

Stitched shibori sampler showing the process

Stitched shibori scarf

As if my life hasn't been interesting and colorful to the max, I recently received a totally out of the blue surprise invitation to come visit an Internet friend on her own turf, a place I know from my youth, but haven't experienced for many years. I am more than stoked for that!

When I think about this creative life, it brings to mind the vision of a circle of people from my folk dancing youth. You always had to reach out both hands and take the hands on either side of yourself. Often they would belong to strangers. It didn't matter. They reached back and took yours. The music would start and the circle would begin to move. Together for just a moment in time and place, you shared a joyful creation through motion. Then over, but not lost. For the artist, the real creations are not the results, but the experience of the doing. Create something this week, alone or with someone. Make a friend, deepen a friendship, know yourself, find your place.


  1. I get what your saying, sometimes we just need to do what we do and not write or blog about it

  2. glad the pincushion arrived safely. i just love your comfy chair. i get lots of inspiration from reading blogs. it's true that it takes lots of time to read and post but i love it and am amazed at how many wonderful people i have met this way.

  3. Cheryl -- well, you've had a pretty amazing little stretch here and you can probably use a little time to recover from it all!! Fun to see. The shibori is just awesome, period.

  4. This is a lovely and interesting post. I agree - the internet for me is a mixed blessing. I love seeing what everyone is doing and learning new techniques, but it does keep me from making and practicing my own art. I feel guilty when I'm not keeping up with the flow in my main group (EDM), and at the same time a bit anxious about not posting regularly on my blog. I need to take a step back myself! nancy

  5. You presented a lot to think about. Certainly enjoyed the fabric connections. So many people are doing such wonderful art.

  6. I, also, have to set limits for myself or I get overwhelmed by email and inspiration. You've had a remarkable bout of creativity, and your fabric work is amazing. The circle of friends, the designing women, sounds very special.

  7. I love hearing your thoughts on this...While I find the blogging and posting process has been good for my comittment and motivation I can already sense how it can overtake the process if one isn't careful. Thanks for the sharing your insights/thoughts!

  8. Congratulations on the purchase from Jude, and also for winning the pin-cushion. Nice seeing all your work from the 2 classes together(i am in both these classes too!)
    I love your blog by the way- it is a beautiful set-up.

  9. Loving all you are working on, and I think I see moons in the shibori!!!

  10. You have been so busy creatively...lovely to see all of your work!
    The class with Glennis has been wonderful, I have loved learning these new techniques and delighted each time I try something new. There is a sort of unwrapping/unveiling as we open, or unstitch each project. Your scarf is gorgeous!!!
    Thanks for sharing everything, inspirational .....

    Jacky xox