‘C’ is for Creativity

Our craft is a very creative pastime. There are many opportunities, from designing a project through to working out the various components and then of course to the final quilting where you can put your own stamp on things. Sometimes your mind takes you exactly where you want to go and you can bring everything together into a unified project. Sometimes your sewjo just isn’t there and you can’t seem to focus.  Or you can focus on thinking about sewing but can’t actually focus on doing it.

Sure we can spend time googling 10 ways to get your inspiration back. Maybe they tell you to organise your stash. Too late we’ve already done that. Maybe they tell you to write down your plans and formalise the whole design process. That sounds a bit technical. Maybe they tell you to take a break and work on a simple project – or take a break completely. That sounds a bit dangerous.

How about going to a show or checking out what others are doing via blogs, Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media platform you can understand/operate? I didn’t actually think I was devoid of inspiration – in fact I have two projects that are slowly germinating nicely that you very much. And I like the journey of that creative process (that often takes place during the making of the project when, for no apparent reason, it takes off in a completely different direction to the one you thought you were headed). Having said that I do also like to explore ideas and discover other people’s creative breakthroughs. This can often help to really consolidate my ideas.

Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve discovered over the past couple of weeks that has really helped to inspire me and focus on not one but three projects!

It all started with the discovery of the 100 Days Project – an undertaking for you to choose a theme and then create one thing every day for 100 days on that theme – and then upload it to the site so you are accountable and up-to-date. Emma Rogan who developed this talks about it here. I like these types of challenges and have done the same sort of thing before in photography – a photo a day, and then scrapbooking – journalising your month a day at a time.  We also looked at the Leah Day 365 days of quilt designs and vowed to do one a week. I think I made it to number 5 before it fell over. And that is the problem with a daily project. There just isn’t time! Well there would be if you made time but that’s a whole other post.

From that I discovered Brenda Gael Smith’s Weekly Art Project. This follows the same lines as the 100 Day Project except that you have a whole week to do whatever it is you want to do. Brenda makes a small (6” square) art quilt and is currently up to week 27. It’s running for a year and I think you can join up whenever you like – but from that day on you are committed to the one project a week.  It’s a great way to start your creativity / learn a new technique or just have a bit of fun. That’s a lesson in discipline.

I talked about the lesson in needle-turn applique that Faith gave us a couple of weeks ago – that has been very instrumental in developing a project that is different to any that I have previously attempted.

With both these ideas and Faith’s lesson planted at the back of my mind I went to see IntoCraft this weekend. Originally I wasn’t going (no time) but decided a quick dash for a couple of hours wouldn’t hurt. I am an accountant – we do things systematically – so I started at Aisle 1. At the end of that row were the quilts from the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild. I marvelled at the quilts with all manner of circles and curves – some appliqued, some pieced. They tell me it’s only a matter of pins, patience and determination but for those of us still in the flat earth society I’m not so sure. That was a lesson in how you should think outside the box – or at least soften the corners of the box.

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‘Moxie and Me’ by Ruth Wightwick

A little further along was the ‘Constants and Variables by Viewpoints 9’ exhibition. This included art quilts from a group of nine quilters from five countries and explored themes the quilters had set themselves (see how that fits into the 100 Days Project and Weekly Art Project I mentioned earlier).  In this display the theme was re-interpreting text. One of the quilts that was quite powerful was from Martha Wolfe and was made in response to the shooting at the Florida nightclub last year.  As I read the artist’s statement I was quite moved and then felt annoyed that a quilter had made me feel sad at this exhibition of beautiful work and then I thought about that reaction.  While I was thinking about it all another lady brought two people up to the quilt and said “it’s all hearts but then there’s the message on it so I don’t know what that’s about”. I asked her if she’d read the statement so they all looked at it and then moved away quickly. That was a lesson in a) how art can be disturbing and, b) how we don’t like the fact that art can be disturbing. Controversial patchwork – now there’s another whole other post.

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“Pulse” by Martha Wolfe

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Then there was the Queensland Quilters Guild Challenge quilts – those that had to use this fabric in at least 20% of the quilt front.  People snipped out particular colours from the fabric, used particular angles or used the back of the fabric. That was a lesson in what you could do with constraints. There were traditional, modern and art quilts and I imagine choosing the winner would have been a mighty difficult job.

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This was the challenge fabric

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This one came first – “Echidnas Day Out” by Sue Elliott

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This one came second – “Flight” by Christine Dowell

A little further along from the challenge quilts was a special exhibition of quilts from the Taiwan Art Quilt Society. Now these quilts have to be seen to be believed – there is so much detail, the backgrounds are amazing and the piecing brilliant. Different techniques abound and I had to look at them three times to even begin to appreciate them.  You could tell these were from another place – I’d seen nothing like them before. Apparently the Taiwanese have been influenced by Japanese quilters and the predominance of American magazines and it has resulted in a fusion that is individual – the society has been very instrumental in promoting the craft by organising exhibitions and displays like this. I did a little research and found this quotation from one of the members “Making a handbag is all about producing a great-looking patchwork design with geometric patterns, but art quilting is about your soul and mind. It’s about expressing your feelings as you sit all by yourself doing needlework”. That was a lesson in how it’s a big world out there and there are a lot of diamonds yet to be discovered.  

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Liberation and Freedom by Su-Ping Chang

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Close-up of Liberation and Freedom by Su-Ping Chang

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The Dawn in My Hometown by Yi-Yao Tseng

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Close-up of The Dawn in My Hometown by Yi-Yao Tseng

Encouraged by Margaret, I have attended the 2QAQ (Queensland Quilters Art Quilters) workshops this year. The ladies are very friendly and have created some awesome work. Some are high flying well-known artists and others may not be so well-known but are still quite serious about their art. That’s a lesson in professionalism. Coincidentally they mentioned the weekly Art Project this week so there’s another example of how you find something you’ve never heard of before and then see it everywhere! I handed in my Kanye West quilt at the meeting on Saturday. I have donated this quilt for the silent auction at Quilt Connect  and also coincidentally my Bowie quilt features on their brochure. Anyway if you would like to own the quilt make sure you place a bid!

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While we’re on the subject – 2QAQ have just started a Facebook page and they have used the Kanye quilt as the cover photo – so that’s a lesson in publicity.

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Meanwhile, back at the show, the final exhibition was the Collage to Stitch Textile art. I spoke at length to Sandra Obst about the concept of doing four collages (in paper) a week and then developing the theme a little more into an art quilt and then later into a bigger piece. 

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Close up of Sandra Obst’s flower

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The development of Sandra Obst’s red flowers

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Close up of Sandra Obst’s Red Flowers showing the stripped background

That was a lesson in the use of collage as a tool for developing ideas and also a lesson that you don’t have to be able to paint and draw to do art. Hooray.

So now there are three projects in various stages in my head – a portrait quilt of a famous quilter; my ‘geographical autobiography’ – that’s the map with needle-turned appliqued building and figures; and finally I’m thinking I would like to enter into the Tasmanian Art Quilt competition.

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As many of you know Luvvy works in the shipping world and the theme this year is ‘Ebb and Flow’ and the exhibition is to be held at the Maritime Museum in Hobart. So this project would be relevant, isn’t due until next February so there’s time to think and also it’s a chance to be really arty farty. That could be interesting couldn’t it?

Here’s what the Apatcheez have been creating over the past couple of weeks – another lesson for me – inspiration and output!

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This is Margaret’s magnificent McKenna Ryan design ‘In Full Bloom’

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And here’s another one she whipped up in her spare time

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This is the first project Jan has finished with the Apatcheez – this beautiful paper pieced cushion is to be a gift

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The Embroiderers’ Guild at Apatchy QuiltingA couple of Saturdays ago the northside chapter of the Embroiderers Guild (many of whom are Apatcheez) were homeless for the day so naturally we couldn’t leave them out on the street so they came to Apatchy Quilting for their workshop. Talk about inspiration! There was loads to be had during this afternoon.

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Liz working on a goldwork butterfly – now that’s inspiring!

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Suzanne said this was an old piece but none of us can remember seeing it so here it is

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Julia made this little easter basket for a special someone

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And Julia also made these baskets from the Cloth Pot pattern from Cottage Garden Threads

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Finally, Dee completed her art quilt – a gift for a good friend

I hope you’re inspired and you find your creativity has just been given a shot in the arm. Until next time

Happy quilting


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Carol Greenhalgh
Carol Greenhalgh

Oh, Kaye! Thank you for your posts. I enjoy reading them and always think of adding a comment, but, have never blogged before! Then my 12 year old grandson came to visit last week during his spring break, he blogs, time to get bogging if I’m to keep up with technology! So here goes… C for creativity came just at the right moment! I needed that reminder of why we quilt! I’m working on four quilts for our Heritage Quilt Show to be held on June 24th. We are a small group of 18 quilters. I joined the group 7… Read more »

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