Friday, December 30, 2011

My New Year's Goal- Part One: Keep a Notebook of Ideas

Ideas come together like a collage, a bit here then there
I'll be walking around the kitchen, cleaning up or putting to rights and thoughts will float through my head. You know, how it happens, you're doing some mundane task and the thoughts just lead from one to another, until you realize that you're miles away from where you started and not even you can trace how you got from thought A to thought G. But thought G is a whole lot more interesting then thoughts A-F and suddenly you're caught. You've thought of something. Something BIG! It's exciting and makes you a little nervous, but how supremely cool is that? If you can pull it off. And suddenly life rears it's ugly head and you have to go answer the phone, or the door, or stop the dryer from buzzing and waking the baby. All the normal every day things that you suddenly resent because in the course of doing them, you lost your train of thought and have only a vague memory that you did, indeed, think of something amazingly cool.

That is why you need a sketchbook, notepad, or notebook by your side at all times. Cause, trust me sisters, it's not nearly as easy to remember those flashes of genius as it once was. They call it mommy brain, and I am SURE that it's being studied in some university some where and someday soon we'll learn all about how it is an actually malady and chocolate with coffee really is an actual treatment for it. BUT til then, we have to suffer in silence, hiding from the rest of the world how hard it is for us to remember ideas from one moment to the next. It's not that we can't think, we're thinking all the time, it's that we can't remember one thought after we've had a few more come after it.

Thoughts wing their way to our Conscious at very inopportune times
So as you contemplate the New Year approaching, how about a notebook to go with it? Why not start a journal on your iphone, and write down the vague thoughts that come throughout the day? Or how about if you sit down a few moments each day at lunch and write down a paragraph or two? Me, I usually start and end the day dreaming up ideas in bed. It's quiet, my brain is still in that dream state where thoughts float unconsciously and I can make connections without thinking quite so hard. That's when the majority of my ideas begin, where they take form, and where they come to a point of full conception. I don't know about you, but I think things out for weeks before I ever take action. A project that may seem spur of the moment, even to me, is usually the result of barely conscious thought spread over weeks. A morning day dream there, a brief crystallization there, then much later a quick insight as I drive or cook. They all add up to an idea that has enough form to act upon.
So this year, how about making a resolution to capture as many of those fleeting thoughts as possible? I bet we'd both be amazed by what we ended up with. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Embracing a Different Kind of Christmas and a Different Kind of Sewing as Well

Merry Christmas! Christmas has been celebrated and with a bit of time on my hands I thought I'd share something with you. You see, I was just looking at the present I got for my mother in law. It was Pokey Bolton's new book, The Best of Quilting Arts and  just now I realized how many of the techniques introduced in the book really appeal to me. I'd like to try gelatin printing. I'd like to use photo's to create a quilt pattern, I'd like to print and stamp and dye fabric as well. While we're here my MIL has been teaching me about machine sewing. I don't know if I mentioned it, but I got a Janome sewing machine last September. It's the first sewing machine I ever bought. It was a spontaneous purchase at a conference I attended. I hadn't intended on getting one, it just happened. They were selling the teaching models and had a killer deal on them. I swear tears came to my eyes as I first saw the ease of sewing just a straight seam with a good machine. I'd played with my grandmother's machine for a while but honestly, couldn't get it to sew a straight seam for the life of me. And you had to pull and tug at the fabric to get it to go through at all. I figured it was me, and that I just couldn't use a machine right and I decided to stick with my hand stitching.

That was 4 years ago and for four years I've very contentedly been hand stitching my little heart out. I've actually been glad for that broken down machine because I love the time I've spent learning embroidery and creating hand stitched art as a result. So much so that I'd actually decided against owning another machine. It's a different kind of sewing and I was afraid I'd lose what was unique about my work, what marked it as hand done art.

But in the last year, I've secretly been wishing for a machine to help as I do more and more construction instead of just embellishing. I love the clothes I've altered, but I have to say that it made me so frustrated to spend time just sewing seams that would get covered up. If I'm going to spend my time hand stitching I at least wanted it to show.

Time, I guess is really what it comes down to. Because the less time spent on construction allows me more time with my family. It also allows me to reach farther and do more creatively then I could before. With the world of surface design opening up before me, and with the joy of learning what my new machine can do, comes the desire to sew at a higher level. To understand all about different seams, and thread types, and machine stitching. To try free motion stitching, and get really really good at using my machine as another tool in my art.

 Today was spent so differently then past Christmases. We're with my husbands family, instead of mine. Which means instead of 20+ people and kids there's just the five of us. Instead of church, we watched The Star of Bethlehem movie (highly recommend it), read the Christmas story and fondued. It's different but not bad, in fact, other then missing my family, it's been a good day. I think that's how I need to see the machine vs. the hand work I've done. It's different but not bad. Plus, I'm having so much fun learning from my Mother in Law, and enjoy so much sharing my Mom's excitement of getting  a new machine herself. It seems sewing is something that's drawing us all together right now and that I have to believe is really the biggest blessing of my new machine.
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Favorite Things...

As everyone is making out their Christmas wish lists and checking it twice, I thought I'd share my favorite tools and materials. Just to give you some ideas. :)

 My Favorite new Studio Accessory
Has to be the ribbon hanger I made from an old frame. It was pretty easy and I love how it looks hanging in my studio. It also holds my patterned tapes as well as ribbon spools. Sweet!

My Favorite Tools
As I started to pull tools for this pic I had to laugh because I kept thinking of just one more thing I just couldn't live without.
You'll see here...
A inkssentials craft sheet (have to have)
 Fiskars craft drill
 Lindstrom pliers
Heavy duty wire cutters
Grippy paint brush
Ratchet pruner for cutting branches
Japanese shears for floral design
Tonic scissors for cutting thin metal sheet
and my new favorite scissors....

My Favorite Materials
16-gauge Steel Wire,fabric, and Wire Mesh!

My Favorite Adhesives
-Modge Podge Matte
-UHU glue stick (the only kind I'll buy for my projects)
-Golden Heavy Gel Medium

Some More of my Favorites...

-My Favorite Stamps are from Oxford Impressions
-Favorite Pens are the Faber Castell Pitt Markers
-and My Favorite ink pads are Distress by Tim Holtz and Staz-on's

 I hope this gives you some ideas... and I'd love to know what your favorite-can't-live-without-tools or materials are as well. So please leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

School Themed Christmas Decorations

What to do to decorate a teacher's lounge? That was the problem last week. I had a bunch of great ideas but when the time came to execute I was down with a lay you flat kind of cold. SO I had to think fast the next morning and working off of  the idea of a teacher's lounge I started to play with some school themed decorations. Here's what I did...

First, I pulled out an old dictionary and cut some snowflakes. I'm ashamed to admit I had to google how to cut a snowflake. I honestly couldn't remember.

Then, I found an old copy of Greencraft that had this amazing paper wreath in it. I did some improvising ( the article showed them stapling the rolled pages to a backer sheet- I had no staples) and found that tape works just as well. When you get to the center though I wanted to cover up the point that the cone ends meet so I used one of my paper snowflakes.I also got bored making the paper rolls and so I decided to make mine more star shaped. :)

Next, I had all kinds of paper scraps so I cut some circles, crumpled them up a bit, and then with a needle and string made a garland for the window. Cute!

Then, near the office downstairs I used some flash cards to make a garland for the window. All I had to do was cut the flashcards in half and then staple them as you would make any paper chain. They had this nifty automatic stapler that was waaayy too fun.  To accent this I hung a carpenter's ruler I'd shaped into a star.
And there you go! School themed Christmas Decorations that are as easy as A-B-C with no primer required!  
Have you done something different with your Christmas decorating this year? Is there some unique material that you've used in an unusual way? We'd all LOVE to hear, so please leave a comment!!!