Sunday, May 31, 2009

How many times does it take to get it right?

I used to quilt. In fact, before the bears were the quilts. Although, I started with both the same way: just decided one day I’d like to give it a try. With the quilts, I had chosen to make one for our bed. (No, Ginger, let’s not start with something small like a pillow. That would make too much sense. Let’s just go all out and make a huge Log Cabin design.)

Not a single lesson, not a single mentor, not a single lick of sense. (There’s just no denying the facts.)

But I completed it, promptly forgot all I had been through, and then decided our 2nd bedroom needed one as well. I chose a Double Wedding Ring pattern this time. (I am a glutton for punishment.) Eventually these adventures led me to a local quilt shop where I discovered like-minded people, classes, and beautiful fabrics.

And that was that – until the bears came along.

But I never gave up my appreciation for quilts, the work that goes into them, and the fabrics. Some things you just can’t shake.

Day 1
(#1) So, when I heard the local quilters’ guild was hosting a quilt symposium, I drove right down to see the quilts and visit the vendors market. (No problem parking! That’s weird.) Well, it turns out I was too early. (Note to self: Check the opening times before leaving next time.)

Day 2 – Morning
Checked times. Market open. Show open.
(#2) Parking definitely a challenge – a good sign. Many lovely things to look at, quilts, fabrics, patterns. (Oops! Got to go – another appointment. I’ll have to come back.)

Day 2- Afternoon
(#3) “I think I missed a couple of vendors earlier – like the one with the silk ribbon and shiny threads. I’ll only be a minute.” (Yes, he knows a minute in ribbon-looking time is longer than 60 seconds.)

Day 3 – Morning
(#4) “I thought about it overnight and after searching the Internet, no one seems to have that brand new fabric yet. I can just run in really quick and get a small sample to try.”

Upon leaving the show, I find him sitting in a rocking chair in the shade of a deep porch on the front of one of the old buildings on the campus, exchanging the occasional hello with the ladies walking by. Yep, that’s my guy, the patience of a saint.

How many times does it take to get is right? It looks like 4 this time.

A few photos:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finally, I think I might be trendy.

I have to go back to my high school days to tell this story. I was never one of the cool kids. I dated a guy that by today’s standards would be considered a geek so he wasn’t very ‘in’ either. He grew so fast his jeans were never long enough. I made him a shirt once (you know I sewed . . .) and by the time I finished, the sleeves were too short. If his glasses broke, tape made for a good temporary fix. He was thrilled when pocket calculators came out and was eager to take a new class in data processing. He was a fan of any movie or show that had to do with stars –

Star Trek or

Star Wars.

The Green Lantern was his favorite Superhero.

But he was funny . . . and interesting and friendly with lots of different kinds of people. He had a curiosity about new things. He made a really great best friend. He was a terrific listener and didn’t mind my ‘Suzy Homemaker’ hobbies. You can see why we were far from being a fashionable couple. He continued to study computers and math. Even so, he was never boring. His enthusiasm for even what seemed like mundane things was contagious.

So contagious that marrying him seemed like a really great idea. Not only that, I loved him fantastically. So that’s what I did.

And I can tell you this guy hasn’t changed much. He still looks at a slide rule with a sense of nostalgia,

tosses off technical terms nonchalantly as if I might know what the heck he is talking about and leaves me dazed when I asked him to explain how the computer works. He gets a kick out new gadgets and the possibility of futuristic devices.

He likes solving computer problems. But best of all, he still makes me laugh. He’s still my best friend and he’s still a geek, but geeks seem to be quite the fashion these days. Finally, I think I might be trendy.

Happy Anniversary Babe!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summertime. . .

It feels like summertime to me here where I am. I realize that the official start of summer is over 3 weeks away and some are still in school but for us, I feel as if it’s begun. Yesterday was the last day of school for my daughter. Not just for the year either. She came home and told me with great joy I no longer had a kid in high school!

I hope she won’t mind if I post a photo of an old-looking bear she made. Not just any ol’ bear, but one she designed from scratch and sewed herself. While I gave her some guidance when she asked for it, mostly I wondered if she had somehow just absorbed the knack for making bears by being around it all her life. I think he’s a charming little character.

Yesterday was also the day I had my Spring Internet show. I had worked for weeks and it culminated with the debut of several bears – a few of which found new places to live. This is a photo of one of my favorites that I was able to send off to a new home. Have fun little Beebee! Fly away!

So today feels a little like the beginning of summer. There are still things to do, objects to clean, responsibilities to meet, but somehow all these things seem less urgent. The weather has been almost perfect for sitting in the glider and watching the birds, drinking tea on the porch, and saying hello to the occasional neighbor passing by. I’ve even managed to begin reading a new book. (I try not to pick one up if I feel I don’t have time to read it because once I begin, the house could fall in and I’d never know it, according to my amusing husband.)

The curious thing to me, and I don’t know how it is for you, but in the run up to a deadline, I try to maintain my focus, keeping to the tasks at hand. Yet while in the midst of all the work, my mind wanders to other projects I could be working on, things I want to try my hand at, places I want to go, and people I want to see. So I begin a list that is titled: Things to Do This Summer

On a day like today, the empty blocks on the calendar seem ripe for all kinds of opportunities for exploration: museum exhibits, travel plans, flea market visits. Will I do all of these things? Perhaps, maybe, probably not – but the possibility exists. I hope I won’t waste it.

But just for today, I will revel in that feeling. You know the one. The one when the last school bell rings and all the kids are making a mad dash for freedom, hoopin’ and hollerin’, jumping to touch the door frame one last time, running for home.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taking the Dream Out of the Box – Playfulness

Playfulness, idleness, a sense of wonder, curiosity, daydreaming, make-believe –

are they all useless, mindless activities, keeping us from making progress on the task in front of us?

or are they integral parts of the artist’s existence, cornerstones of creativity?

When I was in school, everyone’s favorite part of the day was recess. When we were allowed to go to the playground, we were free – no responsibilities, no worries, no work. We made up games. We made up names. We made up new worlds and new people. We grew older and younger. We imagined ourselves with different colored eyes and different colored hair. We changed our backgrounds and our families. We became rich or poor. The worlds we inhabited were of our own making.

Isn’t that what being creative is all about?

So I’d like to suggest, if you get stuck like I do sometimes –

take your mind out for recess.

Start earning your M.S.U. degree. What’s that you ask? It’s "Making Stuff Up".

Need a place to start? Perhaps asking yourself one or more of the following questions will get you on your way.

If you could time travel, when and where would you go? What kind of circus entertainer would you like to be? If there were such a things as a creativity pill, what would happen if you overdosed? What would you ask for if you had a fairy godmother? Who makes you laugh and what it is about that person that cracks you up? What makes for a perfect day? What’s the silliest song you know? What fills you with a sense of wonder?

“If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Ideas come with the dreamy idleness that children have.” Brenda Ueland

There’s still more to taking the dream out of the box. I’ll pick up this topic again next week. In the meantime, I’ll be hunting up my magic wand. Where’s yours?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Devotion ~

I hope a friend of mine will not mind my borrowing

a few of his words

for a day of remembrance. . .

for those who have risked, sacrificed, and served

with courage, bravery and valor.

This Memorial Day I would like to say

Thank you

for your service.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Object: Scissors

My mind wanders when I am working. Sometimes I listen to the radio to keep it from wandering too far, but at other times, I just let it go where it darn well pleases. Like many of you, I have tools that I rely on while I am working and today I was thinking about scissors. People who use them a lot will tell you they have a favorite pair and are very careful about loaning them out. I’m like that with some of mine. I did say some, because I have a lot of scissors. I didn’t mean to end up with them all; they just sort of arrived at different times for different reasons.

Take this pair for instance. These are designed as appliqué scissors. I don’t think I’ve ever used them for that, but I do like that curvy blade which goes underneath. I use them all the time for cutting mohair, alpaca, viscose and almost any fur fabric that I turn into teddy bears. How did I end up with 4 pair? Well, I think there’s actually 5 pair, and I’m not exactly sure how they all got here. (That’s the story I’m sticking with . . .)

Then there are these sweet little things. Years ago, a very good friend of mine who quilted had a pair of these and I gave them a try. Needless to say, now I have two pair myself. They are very good for snipping threads and believe me, I snip a lot of threads – all day long. They are petite but very sharp. I’ve nearly worn the gold finish off of one pair.

This pair is always on my desk too. They are slightly bigger than the ones above and a bit more heavy-duty. They also snip threads, clip curves, and sometimes I even use them to trim the fur on a bear face when I can’t put my hands on my favorite ones above.

My mother would always say you shouldn't use your fabric scissors to cut paper and vice versa. So, this is one pair of my designated paper scissors. Paper dolls, Victorian scrap, collage papers, newspaper clippings, gift wrap and coupons on occasion are among the innumerable things I cut with these babies.

Okay, I think that’s enough of letting my mind wander today. I’ve got a little guy that needs arms and legs and it would be a sad situation if I were not to give him some.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking the Dream Out of the Box – Fearlessness

“What's yo' dream? Hey mister, hey, what's yo' dream? Everybody’s got a dream.” This quote or something very close to it comes at the end of the movie Pretty Woman. (Just in case you didn’t already know.) And I think I agree. Almost everyone has a dream. Dreams are fairly easy to come by.

What is difficult is taking the dream out of the box. I chose the title to this series from something I read a long time ago. And I intend to share it with you later on. Any dream is mere fantasy or wishful thinking until you or I make an effort at fulfilling it. What is holding us back?

(Click to enlarge.)

Oh, it’s just plain old-fashioned fear. Fear of failure. Fear of someone passing judgment on us. Fear that we aren’t good enough or smart enough. Fear that it’s too bizarre.

Fear. It makes us hesitant to act on our dreams. I think now is always a good time to let go of the fear and go forth.

So what if you do fail?

So what IF you DON”T??!!

More on this subject later - same bat-time (almost), same bat-channel.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Have the Bug. Do You?

After reading my last post, you now know how I got the bug, how I ended up as an arts and crafts fair/show/festival kind of girl. It all started with my parents going to shows and me tagging along with them. There we met all kinds of creative people – artists, artisans, and craftsmen alike. Some of them we would look forward to seeing once a year at the only show where we crossed paths.

Our Saturday’s adventure took us to Artsplosure – Raleigh’s Art Festival. The quality of work at this show is amazing! A number of the juried artists travel from long distances to exhibit and sell at this festival, but there are also some North Carolina artists in attendance too. I’ve added a few of my favorites to my North Carolina Treasures link in the sidebar. And since I only have a time machine and not a transporter, I thought I share a few snapshots of the event with you.

One street view

Silk art in beautiful colors

I thought this concept was fun: Tea Bags!

By lunch time, this painting was taking shape.

Another street view

We wanted to purchase one or two of these wire art stars, but we forgot.

Speaking of lunch time: Pacific Rim style noodle dish cooked right in front of you.

Ironwood and turquoise - this guy has patience!

I can't imagine making these glass artworks, much less carefully packing them to transport them to shows.

Now's here's a real piece of art! What a creation! My daughter wants a dog just like this and all the others we saw visiting the show.

This owl painting caught my daughter's attention,too.

Here you can see the progress this artist had made by dusk.

I spent the most time looking through the photo prints by this artist. Looks like I'll have to put frames on my shopping list now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Don’t Miss the Click

To tell about our Saturday, I feel I kind of have to go back just a bit. Well, maybe more than a bit. But that’s okay, isn’t it? I’m ready if you are. Let me adjust the setting on the machine here. And you, you should probably put on that seat belt. This machine is kind of funky, a little bit jerky and sometimes unpredictable. If all goes well, we’ll be back in time in no time.

Here we are – back in the day. What day, you say? Oh, the days of my high school and college. And no, I won’t bore you with ALL the details. Just this one – it all started with my parents. When my dad retired, I was in high school. He was rather young and it was the right decision given the choices they offered him. It was great in my opinion. I mean back then, how many other people my age had or wanted their dads around? But I liked it. Now my mom and my dad were at home together.

But they didn’t just sit around and watch the grass grow. Nope, my mom always had something going on. Thus together they decided to make the most of my mom’s idea of making Christmas ornaments for sale. That little idea grew into a business that they ran for seventeen years. Together they made some of the most beautiful ornaments from sand dollars. They worked year around and went to lots of shows and festivals. How could I not tagalong? Here’s a few of them:

They created at home and then went out into the world and sold what they made. For the shows, they designed displays and sorted out the most efficient way to manage sales. My mom and dad were friendly and happy to chat and answer questions. In addition, the other vendors and artists were interesting and creative people.

Hop back in and buckle up. We’re going forward in time – just a few years.

Screech! Oops, almost went too far!

Let’s get out and look around. See that’s me back then. I’ve recently found out I’m going to have a baby; I just don’t know it’s going be a little boy. I’m trying to figure out how to have the best of all worlds – you know, stay home with the baby, be creative, and make a little moolah. Not lots, just a little.

This is my favorite part. Watch carefully. If you don’t, you’ll miss it. “Click!” There! That was it; the light bulb went off – the sign of a really good idea. I would do shows like my folks! Yes, shows! This part you can’t see, but in my head I’m doing a little dance. (It’s probably a good thing that you can’t see that anyway!)

I just had to figure out what I could make that people would actually want to buy. Okay, that’s all you need to see. It’s time to go back to now so I can tell you about Saturday.

Rats! Who would have guessed that I’ve run out of time? I guess I’ll just have to finish this up in my next post. See you then.
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