Monday, February 27, 2012

A Few More Thoughts on Art

I am a highly pragmatic person and at the same time I’m also very creative/artistic. Whenever I take the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator I score back and forth in one area, the Sensing and Intuitive area. I don’t think I’ve ever scored dead in the center – what is referred to as an X. My preference actually flip-flops on either side of this scale. The sensing person is stimulated by the tangible and the intuitive by imagination or possibilities. In fact, this is the area of the Myers Briggs test I have struggled the most to understand, because I don’t see these two preferences as opposite ends of the same scale.

My creative side crescendos when I can make a creative idea come together. But I rarely do anything creative that doesn’t have some practical purpose. I suppose the truly utilitarian person doesn’t find d├ęcor practical. But even in my recent venture into sewing I have tried to make useful items.

Some would say that we’d be nowhere without art. But I have struggled within at times to reconcile helping a starving, parentless world of need with creating beauty. Regardless of my mental struggle I am still driven to create. And that creative side usually produces practical beauty. If I’m good for nothing else to the needy, it’s to teach them some way of using their hands and imagination to make something practical.

Friday, February 24, 2012

One Day's Freebies

One day this week I ran a bunch of errands that included a trip to 2 of the three post-secondary schools I attended and hand-delivering the second official transcript from each to the office of the school that lost* my first ones. The third transcript was coming from Seattle, so I couldn’t go get that one. On that day I got a ton of free items, mainly from that school but a few others too.

Here’s what I came home with:

Courier bag
Water bottle
Black & yellow rice bowl with matching yellow rice spoon
Coffee mug
Stapler
2 half-blocks of branded post-it notes
A set of word fridge magnets
Yellow rubber ball
A ball point pen
Orange highlighter
A University car window sticker
2 branded lip balm sticks

Plus –
A cup of Caribou coffee
Tortilla chips at Baja Sol

*I say “lost” because they claim all three never arrived there. But with three transcripts coming from three locations, I have a hard time believing all three never got there. I still think they are stuck to the back of someone else’s mail and filed away.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I have to do before I do it

This is the kind way my mother described first-born perfectionism. I actually don’t ever remember her saying it about me, but she probably did. I’m the second first-born in my family. (We have a 10-year gap between the first three and the second two.) I do remember her using this phrase to describe my oldest brother. But I see it’s often fitting for me too.

I decided to make a special baby blanket for a special baby recently adopted by some friends of mine from Ethiopia. I want to use the “pattern” I saw used on a pillow in a craft store from the other day. But I needed to see if I could pull that off first, before I make the blanket.

So I decided to make a couple of pot holders in the same style. All that’s to say, here’s what I have been working on just for fun! (And practice.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Connected by Art

The other day I had lunch with my older brother and my sister-in-law. They are a good dozen years older than me so in some ways they have lived in a different era than me. While I love my siblings, the chasm between me and the rest of my family is actually rather large on many levels. But I still feel some sort of kinship to them after all, they are family.

I think I have realized it in a more tangible way. Or at least there was a connection made for me. My family members nearly all carry in them a sort of innate artistic sense. We would all have agreed that my mother and eldest sister were the real family artists. Both of them actually went to college to study art. But I don’t think my father would have married my mom if he wasn’t somehow deeply appreciative of my mom’s abilities. I don’t even know if he was even aware of that fact. The two of them produced an entire family with some amount of natural abilities.

Our lunch conversation naturally revolved around what each of us had been up to lately. These two told me they were working on a necklace for her. A group project! I got an explanation of why it was both of them and later it came out that my brother was working on controlled rusting of a metal surface, an experiment they explained. He was working on a way to write words with rust on metal artwork.

Somewhere in the conversation they were both telling me about explaining what they do in retirement to a new acquaintance, an E.R. doctor. They became aware that the kinds of things they do are not what non-artistic people do. I had just a bit earlier been encouraging them to continue making sculpture out of found objects. They had made a moose (buffalo?) head last fall. It’s up on their front porch for the winter.

It dawned on me shortly after I got home that day that this is the bond I hold with my family. I may be very different in the things I deeply value from every single one of them. Certainly I differ in many tastes and interests than most of them. But we are all somehow connected by art; it’s in our fiber. We all may approach it differently but we all have some sense of it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pondering College

You would think that my days of choosing a good college to attend would be long over. But the fact is it’s a subject that comes up periodically, perhaps in many people’s lives. Since it seems that the best step for me to move forward now is to finish a BA in something, I started looking at schools. Before you think me completely uneducated, I do have an associate degree in Bible from way back when.

It would appear that more and more places overseas would be more sympathetic to granting me a visa if I just had the degree to prove I’m knowledgeable. I hate to think how much more I know than the average graduate of many colleges. But life experience and a working knowledge of Swahili don’t always count for much on paper.

I took my little ol’ Bible degree to our two well known Christian colleges here in the Twin Cities and ran them both through the paces for their adult education programs. I hoped that one of them would float to the top with flying colors to make my chose easy. It didn’t happen.

They are neck and neck in every way. And the only way to find out who could offer me more financial help is to go ahead and apply to both. It’s a process, but we shall see how it all shakes out after the final analysis of transcripts and financial aid eligibility.

I’m actually starting to warm up to the idea of hitting the books again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I like it, but each piece gets smaller

My third creation of chenille is even smaller than Sample 1 and Take 2. I had taken apart one of those microwavable rice bags because it had collected dust in my attic over the past few years and was making me cough whenever it was heated. I just needed to refill it. In the process, I got thinking how it would be nice to have a rice bag with one side thicker than the other so as not to burn you when it first comes out of the microwave.

What a better way than chenille on one side? I’m very happy with the results and the process helped me understand how to do chenille that could be used in something else – like a part of a quilt or maybe something I haven’t thought of yet.

My main goal in the first piece I made was to determine if I could do it and if I liked doing this enough to make something the size of a throw blanket or a baby quilt. I thought it was funny that each project gets smaller and smaller. I’m working up to it, little by littler.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Year’s Resolution Fulfilled

On New Year’s Eve I wrote about finishing my bible reading plan from 2011. I’m happy to announce that I finished today, only about 6 weeks over a year. I’m thankful for the grace to finish; make it to the end. I know reading through the Bible in a year is no big deal to some people, they do it every year! I wish I was a quick and focused reader. Honestly, I’m a bit relieved that I can now read any part I want to – not just what’s assigned for today.

I’m so thankful, too for the Bible. I finished in Malachi, so I’ll leave you with Malachi 4:2-3

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I’m not really forgetful

Being absent minded is sort of a way of life for me. I am forgetful. I come by it honestly, though. My mother was pretty scatter-brained and her mother was too. Neither were what we’d call ‘Alzheimer’s’ type forgetful, but I knew what my future could likely hold watching both of them.

For me, I find I usually forget things I’d told people I would do or appointments I’ve made. It means I miss meetings or accidently double book events.

Right now though, I feel I have an excuse; being out of a routine and in another major life transition means that it’s hard to have a set way of remembering things. I do have a calendar; I know I could use it more. But there is no specific routine to looking at it.

I felt further vindicated the other day when I made a small discovery. I went to my attic in search of a few items. Since I’ve been sewing a ton, I wanted to unearth my iron and ironing board (if I even still had them). There is an iron and board where I am staying, but they are pretty light duty ones. If I had mine still I knew they’d be a fairly good quality.

Just making my attic list didn’t allow me to think enough about finding them. As I mentioned, I wasn’t even sure I’d kept them. But as soon as I arrived in the attic and pulled out my list, I was able to turn to my iron immediately. It was in the first place I looked for it; on a top shelf with a plastic carrier bag over the top to keep the dust off of it. I reached for it as if I’d set it there yesterday.

Then I turned to the ironing board. In one more moment, I was fairly certain I knew where it was. But getting to it was much more of an archaeological dig. I had to move several items to see if it was beside a dresser in the closet. Sure enough it was right where I’d imagined it.

Now I know I’m not losing my mind. I just need to build in some routine.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Journey into Burlap

It all started when we wondered into a dollar store. While my friend and I were on my little sewing vacation, we stopped there – just for fun. She found this fabulous book on how to make different kinds of bags, and bought one for each of us. We later discovered why they were only a dollar; the English had errors and the directions were incomplete. Never mind, we now each had a great idea book.

Inside the book were several bags made from linen or burlap. Actually, you can see one of them in the lower left on the cover. On our next visit to Walmart I purchased some burlap. My friend warned me that burlap sheds. I didn’t like the sharp fibers splintering into my dry hands. So when I get home I zigzagged the raw ends and threw it all and the washer. I made sure to throw a dryer sheet in when it went in the dryer. I don’t know if any of that helped, but it made the most interesting dryer lint.

Anyway, it was just sitting among my sewing piles. I just finished that heart wall hanging the other day and wasn’t sure what was next, so I started back on the brown strips. I made another 4 patches similar to the first 4. I had no idea still what to do with them.

I took some leftover scraps from that and tried to remember a sideways patchwork I’d seen. I even tried to search the web for something like it, but I couldn’t find what I’d seen. So I just tried it anyway. Then that little patch was done and squared up, it came to me – a table runner, or dresser runner! This time I’d do it nice and long, not like the other 24 inch ones.

As I started to sew the pieces together I realized the whole thing would be very long and only like 6 inches wide. It needed a boarder. Another light bulb went on, that’s when I remembered my burlap!

Ta-da –

I think this is my coolest creation on patchwork quilting yet.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Heart Tree

In my deep affection for Valentine’s Day I couldn’t resist doing something seasonal with the naked Jesse Tree left behind by Advent. So up went a battery of various colored hearts. It cheers me every time I walk by it.

Other related activities include making valentines last week for the family I live with that are away right now. And I have a session scheduled with the Maves kids for valentine making on Friday! I can’t wait.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Doing Things the Hard Way

I think my mom used to tell me that I have a tendency to do things the hard way. I don’t think that’s a pervasive truth in my life, at least I hope not. But when it comes to creating patchwork quilts; it may be the best way to explain how I do it.

I was inspired by the coming holiday – Valentine’s Day. But as I did at Christmas time, I got an idea in my head and just started sewing, no pattern, not even real measurements until after I got going on it. When it’s finished it will look spectacular, but the road to getting there may do me in.

It’s a wall hanging or a table runner. I’m not super big into heart things, but I really love Valentine’s Day only because I’m really a romantic type at heart.

Next year I hope I remember to go back to paper valentines so I have a lot less stress.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Second Take on Chenille

I decided the chenille was so fun I needed to do more, but I’m still not ready for something big! So I thought a little extra special taggy blanket would be fun. It looks amazing, but slightly fussy with all those little ribbon tags. Not sure that will happen again.

I sure hope the little baby sister to three big brothers enjoys this one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog's Day

I haven’t paid much attention. And to be honest I haven’t been outside today yet. But it doesn’t look like the groundhog saw his shadow today. So, that means we do not have 6 more weeks of winter.

My only question: is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In the Meantime

I keep having incomplete visions of crafting. I studied the photo of the quilt that first inspired me for the wonky patchwork and decided I could come a little closer to what had been done there and perhaps with a little less stretch stress. (When you sew on the bias the fabric stretches.)

I just started sewing variations on brown. Taking 2 inch by 6 inch pieces, I cut them lengthwise slightly askew. That turned out pretty good for the effect, but I’m still not sure what I will do with them.

I’m collecting. If I see some fabric or a project that might be fun, I collect up the ideas, sometimes the materials. Then I am hesitant about what to do next. The fact is, my little patchwork of the skewed pieces remains unfinished. I’m now dreaming of burlap bags and holiday hearts. Enough writing, now – on to some actual sewing.

If any of my readers are giving away unwanted natural fiber fabric, I’ll take it. And I promise to make a little something in return. I’ll try to push a project to the top for you.