Friday, October 30, 2009

The First Step

So in 2 more days I leave for Cincinnati to do the step by step photo shoot for my book, Creative Bloom! I'm excited. Then nervous. Then excited. And because the nervous part is there I went organizational crazy and have been trying to plan out every little detail of the next week. Impossible, I've decided, since I've never done this before and can't begin to know how it'll all work. My editor did send me a rough idea; work in the studio from 9-5, one hour lunch breaks to meet staff, and I gather that my evenings will consist of me, prepping for the next day. Doesn't sound so bad- right?

But because I've made it to this step, I looked back today at the first step. And I thought I'd share it with you. Waaay back in November of last year I was working on some article ideas for Stampington when I realized that I had quite a few and it was fairly diverse group. I had wall displays, jewelry, lamps, other home decor, christmas ornaments, and art quilts. In all I'd used the wire and fabric combination I love. Then it hit me that I had enough material for a book. It was a completely audacious idea and I started to think it through. The next few days I wrote an outline, looked at other craft books to find a publisher I liked, and did a little research on what a book usually included. The books I loved were all North Light Books so I decided to find out what I needed to do to approach them. Their website made it easy. They spell out exactly what they look for in a book, an author, and the proposal. Nothing I read excluded me or my idea. In fact, the longer I looked the more I realized that this part, the first step- was completely doable.

THEN, shaking somewhat, I told my husband. I didn't know what he'd say. I'd never done much writing and to suggest a book seemed a little crazy even to me. But he listened, looked at the North Light suggestions, and told me I could do it. That moment changed everything. He thought I could do it. It wasn't just a crazy idea I had. Suddenly, I was excited to give it a try. So, I did. The very next night I wrote up the proposal, the outline, put some pictures together, and e-mailed it off. I heard back the very next morning. The editor who replied was so nice and wonderful about it. She said what she liked, and what she was hesitant about, and made some suggestions. I replied and that was the start of it! Over the course of the next few months I completely reworked the entire proposal, created art samples to send, and changed everything about the outline as the concept of the book became clearer to me.

Last May it all went before the publishing board at North Light and was approved. So that's what, 7 months between my initial idea and my green light. It was so hard to wait! But I know that the timing was God's and that this has all been according to his timeline so of course it happened all as it should. But it's still been a fabulously, crazy ride.

Oh, and in case this inspires any of you.... here's the link to the page I found that began this all..... Remember crazy can just be the first look you might have at absolutely amazing!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Of Possibilities and Plans...

Have you ever gotten ready for a trip, putting all your energies towards preparing for a great new adventure and then once you've left- you think about home? Traveling anywhere away from home always stirs the "reflecting on my life at home" thought thread for me. It's one of the things I look forward to most. I love traveling but one of the primary benefits for me is that it allows me to gain some perspective on my everyday life.

The book experience feels to me like a trip I've been on for a long time and now that I'm past the half way mark ( I'll be done completely in January) I'm realizing how much of my time and energy has been unavailable to me. A qualification to be a mixed media artist should be a low attention level. We flit from one thing to another, to another. And although that worked completely in my favor designing the various book projects, I've been unable to really luxuriate in that "whither I will" feeling for a while. I was in the land of "set project" and it's been hard on me at times. I feel the tug to go off in different directions but have to be a grown up and tell myself "not til AFTER I get my work done." Of course that didn't always work and I have followed a few meandering side paths but the majority of my creative energy has been flowing into this book.

But now the little whisper is saying "not now- but soon..." and I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I can't even start to choose in what direction I'd like to move next. Do I want to invest my time in art jewelry classes? What about going back to the pastel drawings? What about this writing bug I've had? I could take classes locally. The art journalling I see artists like Zinnia and other women exploring is really exciting and I think I'd like to try more of that as well. Just choosing between 2-D and 3-D was impossible. So I'd decided to stumble on and let myself meander a bit. Don't worry about a direction and just play, play, play.

Then today I opened a package that seemed to focus me again. It was a little tiny package and inside were business cards. My first ever and there right on the front I saw them. My etsy address, and this blog address. Seeing those written right on there reminded me that I have goals with regards to both my etsy site and this blog that I haven't reached yet. Goals to make them amazing and informative and enjoyable for others. I have ambitions for these two sites that I can not wait to begin to work towards again. Lots and lots of plans that I want to see fulfilled and so I've decided. When this is done I'm going to refocus on these two things and see just how far I can take them. This isn't incompatible with the whole fun thing either. I can play constructively.

Just not yet.

Oh, and the business cards- Shelley of did a fabulous job designing them for me- Thanks Shelley, I love them!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Letting Go of Your Work

It was 4 months and 25 projects but I am done done done! And there's nobody home so I'm going to celebrate with you!! Life's been pretty crazy lately, as I learn to balance family, the book, my job as a stay at home mom, and friends. At times I really wondered if I could do it and although I'm not done with it all yet- I am now one HUGE step closer!

The last project I finished was a bracelet. When I submitted it as part of my final project list last July it was a vague idea teasing me. I loved the idea but didn't know how to do it. So every time you hear me suggest that you, my artist friend, take a risk, I want you to know I do it too. The bracelet was a risk- but I had confidence that I could work it out as I went. Well the time went and I was down to my last 4 projects and I still had only a vague idea of what to do. But you know, as soon as it was time to "do it" the inspiration came. That's just one small experience but it actually sums up the progress of most of this book. I get an idea, have no idea how to do it, commit to doing it, and then when the time comes- the inspirations there. It's been a wonderful experience and I really feel as if God has been right beside me this entire time. As if it was a partnership with him doing all the hardwork and my job being to wait or act as the moment dictated.

The picture of my son above reminds me that when you write or create from the heart, letting that work go, is like throwing stones into the water. Our work is something we want to hold close and treasure. The projects I've sent to the publisher are my soul's work from the last 4 months. I could have held them close but by sending them I was making the choice to let go and toss them as hard and far as I could. They'll fly for awhile then drop into the water. And then, if I'm lucky, they'll ripple the water in countless circles and effect the lives of others. Hopefully encouraging them to do the same.

Although- if you want to know a secret...I always take a few pictures of the completed work before I send them anywhere. That way I can pull the image I want, whenever I want, and visit it. I know that I would never have made the jump to selling my work on etsy if I hadn't figured that one out. I need to know that I still have them available to me in some form. They're just too much a part of me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Spooky Fun!

Just a head's up to head over to Shelley's blog for some more spooky fun. She's got pumpkins and crows and my personal fave- a papier mache skull covered with a baroque pattern. Ooooh! Just lovin' it! She got creative and used the same pumpkin piece in both her harvest and halloween pieces which is just so clever! So click here for the details!You'll boo amazed!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Starbuck's Inspiration

Here it is! More Harvest Decor that's quick and easy to make and add's a really nice personal element to your home. Here's the inspiration behind this project:

At the end of August I was looking forward to a couple of things happening in September. One was Jasper's first day of school and the other was the reintroduction of Starbuck's seasonal latte, the Pumpkin Spice. I've never been big into the coffee drinks, but one day as I was sitting with a friend over coffee the server came around with samples. In our memories it's strange what we can recall clearly and what seems fuzzy. The birth of my son- fuzzy. The first time I tasted a Pumpkin Spice Latte- I have complete recall of it. So yummy! So last year and now this year I've added it to my list of seasonal treats along with pumpkin bread and apple muffins.

When I started to create this little quilt I hand cut the pumpkin shape first with all of it's elements and stitched that on before I could think of what to add to the space above it. I thought of "Autumn", or "Harvest-y goodness", or just something about Fall. Nothing really worked. But then it came to me. "Pumpkin Spice is Nice." Now you may be thinking you would have chosen something else but this was personal art and I made the personal connection and now I smile when I see it. What simple pleasure could you make art of? Is there a Harvest osmell or activity you particularly look forward to each year? Something you'd like to share?

How To:
1) Creating a mini art quilt is fabulously easy (which I love), and you get great results (which I love even more)! To sketch out some ideas, then choose one and select some fabrics to work with. Working with different patterns and colors is really enjoyable to me so I sometimes start here and then figure out what to make of them.
2) Cut out a background piece- Here I chose black. Then, cut out your major design elements, I have the pumpkin, the leaves, etc. They cling really well to the background fabric once you set them on, so I use this opportunity to do some collage like playing around with the piece to further develop the design.
3) Once you have want you like laid out on the background piece, start to stitch them into place. Sometimes, just for ease, I'll glue on the smaller fabrics with a dab of the glue stick. Then using the embroidery floss of your choice start to straight stitch the pieces together. I love this step because the stitches add a drawing element that really adds to the collage feel of this process.
4) After I stitched down everything I usually step back to look at the overall design. This is where I decided on the "pumpkin spice" theme. I hand cut the letters and then glue sticked them down. I do need to go back over with some stitching to hold but it's good for now. Or I might pull them off and adhere them to a piece of that iron on interfacing. Then cut them and place them as desired. Easy!
5) Embellishment time! Now is the time to take a look at your design again and see if there's anything you can add to give it that extra punch. I chose to add the green backing fabric and some buttons. I have half a mind to go back in and add some salvage items I have, like an old roller skate key, but we'll see.
6) To finish I cut little strips from scraps of the orange fabric for ties. Bend the piece in half and then stitch to the top of your quilt. It can then hang from anything you'd like. I might switch this one over to an old ruler yet. Or a rusty old hanger. We'll see.... FUN!