Friday, June 11, 2021

Things I Wished I Knew on Off the Wall Friday

The 2nd full size quilt I ever made

I was thinking this week of when I first start quilting.  Everything seemed so new and mysterious. I remember I was so excited by it that it would keep me up at night.  Finally, I was on my way to learning how to make those amazing quilts  I so admired.  Now nearly 30 years later, I wonder if I have done what I set out to do.  Now don't get me wrong.  There has been a lot going on in the last 30 years
My first original design inspired by a greeting card

that quilting has not been my main priority. Really raising a daughter into a responsible young woman was......  Check!     Educated well ... Check ! Check!!  Sent out into the world...Check!  Check!! 

But now there should be more "me" time and what do I want to do now.  Which is how I got wondering  what I would have done different.

Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Quilting

  • Learn the basics well .. I wish I had slowed down in the beginning and took a basic quilt class.  One that would teach me how to make a scant quarter inch every time, how to bind a quilt properly, how to make points meet, how to clean my sewing machine, how to layer a quilt properly.  It seems like over the years, I've been unlearning bad habits that I picked up when I taught myself because "That was close enough".  Now I'm not talking perfect but you do to need to know how to do the basics properly - every - time.
  • Buy less fabric, Sew More...Yes I think we all should have a decent size stash, but honestly I think I bought enough fabric for 3 lifetimes.  Every pretty fabric caught my eye with no thought on how it could be used.  Of course now that fabric is $12-14/yd, I'm happy to have a stash I could live with, but if you have a room of fabric it is too much.
  • Take More Process Pictures...Of course when I started quilting we didn't have digital photography but still I wish I had more pictures than the finish quilt.  This blog has helped but still, it's really useful to have process pictures to help document the construction
  •   Learn to Dye Fabric...Now in my defense there wasn't a sole around that was teaching fabric dyeing.  I actually had to look it up online and follow some well written blogs.  Even then it was trial and error.  Learning to dye your fabric (as well as paint it) opens up a whole world of possibilities to quilting.  Plus what's cooler than saying, "Oh I dyed the fabric myself!"  
  •  Buy A Better Machine Sooner...I don't think every quilter needs an fancy smancy expensive sewing machine, but when you know it's your life work....then BUY ONE. The minute I got my Janome Horizon my life got so much easier.  My seams were more precise, a bigger arm opened up quilting opportunities, stitches could be adjusted, and it FMQ like a dream etc etc OMG why did I not do this sooner!

  •  Don't Make Presents ...No one except another quilter understands the hours that goes into a quilt.  I've been lucky.  All my quilts have been loved thoroughly and still talked about but still it would have been much less stress and time if I had just bought a nice food basket.
  •  Take More Art Classes...So along with learning the basics, I wish I had taken some art 101  classes and maybe a beginning drawing class. My life would have been so much easier.  All of quilting, traditional and art depend on the principals of design.  Once I got a hold of them, critiquing a design became so much easier.  I cringe at some of my beginning quilts due to glaring errors just because I didn't know any better.
  • Stop Making Excuses for Quilting...Okay, anybody  who knows me in real life, knows that I don't shrink from expressing my opinion.  Nor am I the type to get bullied or peer pressured.  Still there have been times over the last 30 years that I've had to explain away the money I spend, the time I spend, the energy I spend.  Why everyone thinks they are allowed an opinion on the subject, I - Do - Not - Know.  Luckily, this does NOT include my family.  They have been more than supportive of me taking precious time and $$, pursue my passion.  Honestly, I think it comes to Creatives.  Creatives understand why we do what we do.  Others don't


Wow that list got long fast!!!  I don't think a bit of self reflection every 30 years or so is a bad idea.  

What Would You Do Different??? 

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Friday, June 4, 2021

A Little Focus on Off the Wall Friday

 Back!  Finally!!  Thank you all for the prayers and kind thoughts!  This week I entered back into my real life after spending three weeks helping my parents out.  When you're gone that long, you're normal routine starts feeling a little surreal.  Four days back and I'm still not quite into the swing of things.  My good friend Rhonda said that all I needed was a little focus and routine.  She's so smart!

Just to show you how little focus I have, I was cleaning out my room and found the latest book by Jennifer Sampou called Ombre Quilts.  I've been quietly collecting ombre commercial prints over the last 3 years and I've been itching to get them into a project.  I thought, "I'll whip up one of these quilts to get me back into the swing of things!! "  The dose of reality came from  Rhonda who reminded me that my little girl quilt still needs quilted and wasn't I working on my English Paper Piecing windmill quilt.  sighhhhh ... it gets better...I walk into my studio and see the half done art quilt for my masterbath.  OMG  how could I forget these!  It's like my mind just blocked it all out.  

Focus and back I'm going into my studio to get these projects done before I start a new one!

Now onto.... Things I Like.....

With us cutting the cord from cable, I've been watching more free videos on YouTube.  This last month I discovered a great channel called ...Great Art Explained in  Minutes.  I never took an Art History class so it seems like there is so much to learn and BOY does these videos teach a lot.  It's amazing what is in a painting once you start looking.  I can highly recommend you take a look!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Off the Wall Friday


Sorry Blogger was down all Thursday!   Thank you for your prayers and understanding.   Hopefully, things will return to normal next week!!

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Friday, May 21, 2021

Off the Wall Friday


Thanks for your understanding during this time!!

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Friday, May 14, 2021

Off the Wall Friday

So sorry....I'm dealing with a family emergency and it may mean a few weeks of quotes instead of blogs.   Please pray for us !!

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Artist or Quilter or Whatever on Off the Wall Friday

 This week, I was catching up with an old friend who said, "I didn't know you were artistic!"  That

struck me as strange since he knew darn well I've been quilting for nearly 30 years.  "Oh, I know you quilt, Nina, but I didn't realize that you did art too!"  As the inside my head exploded a bit,  I explained that what I do is design art which I then create with fabric.  

long pause


blank stare

"So do you frame them?"  OMG what this country doesn't know about art is crazy.  I mean. people can  tell you what Meghan Markle had for breakfast but they still think that to be real art it needs to be framed.  Honestly with all the ugliness in the world you'd think that the general public would be seeking out some beauty and uniqueness.  Okay, I'll stop this rant before it gets full blown, but my point is that art is more than what you see framed in a museum.

Don't get me wrong, I personally think art museums are a perfect place to start your art education.  That's where I started mine (Thank God the Cleveland Museum of Art is free so you can go as much as you want ... not as much as you can afford).  But for all that is Holy,  Art is so much more than what is framed or even chiseled.

Last weekend, we spent our 28th anniversary scouring the Salamanca Antiques Mall.  There we explored over 1000 vendors' treasures of yesteryear.   Seeing that much stuff - most of which was decorative- can set your senses reeling!  What I ended up doing most of the day was look at mid century pottery which of course is my latest obsession.  The fluid shapes of the pieces were amazing.  Yes most were old planters or vases but all were art.  Art they framed?  No...still art. The place was over flowing with unconventional things that people could use for decorative art.  Most not framed....all were art.

 (I did in fact bring home the prettiest print from 1900  that was framed for $10 but that's a whole other post...named "Weird Stuff I bought because I couldn't live without but my daughter will have to sell  or donate when I die")  

This is part of Martha Stewarts McCoy Collection (of course it is!)

Back to my original point though ... if you are a quilter who designs original quilts then you are an artist.  Your thing may be a more traditional flavor of log cabins and bear paws... still art  .... It maybe improvisational piecing... still art...It may be embroidery stylized with a 19th century flare ... still art.  ....  If you are creating with color, value, texture, line, shape, pattern....IT'S ART.

Now normally, I'm too old to get hung 
up with titles.  Am I an artist?  Yes  .... Am I a quilter? ... Yes!  I like both words..  Truly, at this point in life I don't feel the need to justify to anybody what I do anyways.  But it would be nice once in a while if people actually understood what I did......ALSO if they didn't look so surprised when I say I'm an artist.  I mean, gosh, we all don't have to have tatoos, body piercings and purple hair.

Rant over.  Thank you for indulging me.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, April 30, 2021

Maintaining Momentum on Off the Wall Friday

 I remember the first time I realized that the amazing quilts I saw in quilt magazines and national shows were made by very human women and not some kind of artistic geniuses.  Before that I thought they must have some special gift from God bestowed on them on some higher level  to achieve such masterpieces.  Well,  they did, but it wasn't really what I originally thought. Don't get me wrong though.

These women are all talented artists but their  real "magic"  lies in the fact that they have discipline, patience and perseverance.   Behind every great piece are hours and hours and hours of work.  Not just regular work,but the kind of work that only gets done if you tie yourself to your machine and do it.

This week I was reminded of this fact.  Everyday I would get up with the idea that I would do some chores, work my 9 hr day and get some sewing done.  By the end of the day, my workday got done nicely, chores mostly got done and my studio said, "Nina who?!"  Well to be more accurate I did get a few hours in on my new quilt but  not nearly what I wanted to get done.  The vision of the piece is so clear in my head I really just need to sit down and get it done.  Easy right?!  sigh......I wish.

Tell me if  you think this sounds familiar?  Okay!  Gonna  sew but what I need to do first is  to put in a load of laundry....then the phone rings.....Paul stops me to yell about the latest White House fiasco....ohhh and let me start the roomba....what was I doing again?.....oh right I'll check my email and wouldn't it be nice to take a few minutes to watch Hometown....Erin and Ben are so cute...I wonder what they got new on their website....ohhhh look at those cute you think my mom would like them?  I'll call my sister.....

You get the idea.  Now it's not that I forgot I was suppose to be sewing. No ... it was just easier to

whittle away my day with little tasks and time wasting amusements....none of which is getting my latest brainstorm done.  

So the truth (because lying to yourself is pointless) is that if I want to create art, I need to put in the work.  A thunderbolt of inspiration is NOT going to replace the actual work I need to put in.  Early this year, I set up a goal and schedule and I found that too rigid. So this week, I am trying some new routines to keep me motivated and working in my studio .....I hope these help you too....

  • Internet free email, no social media, no checking the idea that just popped into my head
  • Set an alexa timer and I don't stop working till it goes off.  If I want to work after that fine but at least I know I worked at least 45  minutes.
  • Shut my studio door so my family sees not to disturb me unless the blood can not be stopped
  • Show off my progress to my family for what I call - Design Wall Validation (they  know to ohhh and ahhhhh)
  • Select  a good audio book or catchy music
  • Get enough rest and hydration 
  • Forgive myself for not being perfect
  • Let go of the fear of failure
None of these are earth shattering new ideas.   I'm quite sure that over the last 10 years of blogging I've talked about them before, but since spring is a good time for renewal I thought it a good idea to recommit. Plus it seems that that my day job isn't going to slow down anytime soon (yes ladies are still buying, buying, buying!), I'm just going to have to reprioritize some things so I can actual sew. If I don't make time to create then my days are just get up do chores, do work, read, sleep....repeat.  NOT fun!

With that in mind, I'll end this here by asking....

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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