Weekly Roundup

Mal | Resources,Roundup | Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Stats Spike

This was the look of my stats counter a few weeks ago after someone on StumbledUpon and rated one of my posts. It’s quite incredible to go from a few hundred hits a day to a few thousand. Beyond that, though, every time I would see this spike — the visual representation of a sudden and dramatic increase in activity — it felt like a metaphor for my emotional life. Between visiting my parents’ house, relationship stuff, and work politics drama, you may remember that I was pretty maxed out.

Fortunately, I’ve come back down to earth. My psychic energy has been freed up and I am back to working on creative projects and relationship-building in my free time.

News

I was honored to be featured on WhipUp.net for my fabric folding tutorial. Hope people get mileage out of it! It definitely saved us at my mom’s house, and now I’ve folded all of the fabric that I “inherited” from her stash and put it into my own system. I guess it’s time for photos of my new studio work corner. Stay tuned.

I also had a photo highlighted over on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog. Thanks, ladies! I’m a long-time fan of the Mamas.

Comments You Should Read

Its been a while since we featured comments, but there have certainly been some great ones!

Great reader contributions on my review of Mihaly Csziksentmihalyi’s book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Mal, Interesting commentary. I find that for me, being in the “zone” makes me a more relaxed and happier person. And that the creativity seems to unintensionally spill over into other areas of my life. And I absolutely agree that while sometimes creativity is spilling over (I call it having itchy fingers that just want to sew), other times I have to sit down and make myself sew and the next thing I know I’m there, (or in a place that leads me “there”).

Shelly of Shelly’s Quilts

I’ve always found that the first step to “getting into the flow” is just DOING something. For me, it translates to a natural progression of ideas and work and then i DO forget all else. This also happens on the rare occasion that Greyman and i take off for a weekend—-when we are in the moment in the wild of the mountains, our separate ” lives” disappear except for the exact minutes we are there—we have even forgotten about our “babies” for awhile (the cats :}). I have done that at work also while arranging flowers!

There is a very refreshing feeling to this when it happens and it happens often enough that i am taking great joy in my/our life for the first time in years.

Arlee of Albedo Design Journal

On the entry about organizing things in rainbow order, lots of fellow color-organization ”freaks” came out to comment!

Mr. BIV lives at my house, too, esp. in Fabric Land. I have warm colors (ROY) each in their own containers but all next to one another. I have cool colors (G. BIV) same situation. Then a container each for White/Cream, Beige/Tan, Gray/Black. A zipper bag of fabrics which can represent soil (White Sand to Black Clay).

My “theme” fabrics are in their own containers: Food, Quilts of Valor (lots of donated fabric here; I don’t want to mingle it with my own), Reproduction (19th c. vs. 1930s), Holidays, Cats, Dogs, Bounty (harvest related), Tea/Coffee, Critters (mostly fish and birds, but some juvie lizard prints, too), Batiks, Hand Dyed, and Bright Multi-Colored What Color Is It Really? (one container). Probably missed a couple, but you get the idea….

I like the fruit color sorted, though I haven’t done it yet–it looks very cheerful!

Cynthia, no blog (but great reader/commenter!)

Interesting comments, too, when I shared about The Intervention —sorting through and purging my mom’s hoarded fabric stash.

That’s inspiring- seeing all the pretty organized colors, purging, admitting there is a problem, but I can also imagine the daunting feeling hanging over something like that to even get started.

I have the fabric I have because my aunt has brown boxes filling her garage. Luckily though, when I said I was taking a class and needed some- all my aunts opened their doors. I’m working really hard on making things with what I have before accumulating anything more. I only buy something if I cannot in any way substitute something I already have.

Thank you so much for the organization inspiration, congratulations on all the hard work you’ve accomplished so far and definitely sending positivity to you for the future goals.

Liz of Chunk of Cheddar

There were some fun declarations of independence on the giveaway contest a few weeks ago. I encourage you to read them all! Here’s a sample:

I declare my independence today from worrying about the future, it’s a waste of time.

Deborah (no blog)

I declare my independence from procrastination! I’m taking care of some pesky details instead of letting them cause me to fret.

Courtney of Woodland School

I am declaring my independence from thinking I have to do everything without asking for any help.

Patty (no blog)

Finally, some good thoughts arose from my post about video games and creativity (constructive vs. destructive freetime pursuits).

I absolutely believe there is something healing in using our creativity. About a year ago, I went through a bout of depression after losing my job (and the circumstances surrounding it). I did nothing but read, losing myself in imaginary worlds. I read 23 books in two weeks. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t sew, couldn’t make decisions. I finally realized that I had to make myself do something to break the cycle. I chose to design and sew a complicated quilt block. I wanted to do something that required focus and attention to detail, but had no consequences if I failed. I credit that quilt block with starting me back to health. I named it Anxiety. Shortly after that I designed an entire quilt, followed by a couple more. I found a new job, and while things could be better, I also know they could be a LOT worse. I feel my best when I’m working – being creative in some form, even if it’s just figure out a software program at work. It’s when I stop sewing at home that I feel myself sinking again. So… gotta get sewing!

Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts

Good Reads Around Blogland

I’m really behind on my blog rounds, but here are a few things I’ve been reading lately.

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Roundup | Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Testing beaded fringe

When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

Buckminster Fuller

This week

Most of my free emotional and mental space (where the blogging and crafting used to fit) is all filled up right now. That surplus of creative energy with which I usually write, sew, and paint is currently employed with trying to find creative solutions to some major, major problems that have arisen at work and in my family. I sense that we are working toward solutions, but it has certainly slowed down my blogging, hasn’t it?

Please note

My cartwheel quilting method was highlighted on Joan’s Quilting on a Budget blog. She said some very nice things. Thanks, Joan! It’s always nice to meet people who respond to what I’m trying to do with turning*turning.

Comment highlights

Still, t*t readers continue to contribute wonderful nuggets of thought and wisdom. Here are a few that came through this week.

We’ve gotten a few more thoughts about making time for creativity.

Making time is always a challenge- for me its about finding the balance. I am so “all-or-nothing” that I tend to dive in and get swallowed up in whatever I focus on, whether that is ‘making’ or attending to daily responsibilities. I do think of making time as ‘me-time’ and it often comes last.
this past year I have had some physical limitations that have ended up being a gret ebenfit to me in this area. Not being able to sustain activities for any length of time has forced me to figure out how to do a little bit about a lot of things. Surprisingly, this piecemeal approach has resulted in several unfinished projects getting done, and even a couple of bigger ones! Now I try to spend a little time instead of trying to do it all in one sitting, and so far, its working!

Catherine (no blog)

Delurking to post a quickie: Like some of the others who responded, I try to work a little time for projects into my crazy schedule. Sometimes that means cutting out stencils or hexagons (!) at lunch in my office, or doing web-based research during slow time at work. Recent research projects: search for outlines of sparrows, ravens, hummingbirds, late ‘60 R/T Chargers and VW Bugs to make into stencils or stamps; hexagon quilts – which is how I found your wonderful blog; American pioneer / prairie dresses vs English muslin dresses of the early 1800s – just looking for stuff to inspire or inform future projects. Like others, I know I’m spending more time admiring the work of others than actually working on my own stuff. Sometimes I only have the time (or the energy) to be be inspired, and I’ve learned to accept that.

When I was able to take public transportation to work, I would knit or crochet on my commute. Now I must drive, which takes away my commute-time crafting, and ooooooh was I bitter about that! Recently, though, I realized that my car, which I park all spring / summer in a warm location, makes a perfect bleach stencil making / stamp curing location. Here’s what I do: I make the stamp / stencil during breaks at work, and the next morning, when I park my car at work, I put together the project & let it cure. When I get back to my car at the end of my day, my project has BECOME something in my car. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me…

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration you’ve provided & that which is to come.

Muna Samira (no blog, but photostream over on flickr)

I like the way that quilting can always stand for ‘getting it together’ — that is, the way the actual piecing of disparate elements is in and of itself an integrative act. That means that when all else feels like it’s whirling in chaos or falling apart, I can look at whatever I’m making and say, “but THIS is coming together…. “

Dee of Dee Mallon & Cloth Company

Good reads around Blogland

And finally

Not only am I facing some work challenges and gearing up for a trip to my parents’ house in the next couple of weeks, but also I just submitted the application for my state psychotherapy licensure. (I’m nationally certified but am pursuing a state license to practice independently.) This means that I’ll have two major exams to study for over the next couple of months. It’s going to be a miracle if I can keep making things and/or blogging about them! Please send all positive, creative, calming vibes my way!

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Roundup | Sunday, June 7th, 2009

MAL Quilt

Special thanks

The photo above (and those that follow) shows a wonderful mini-quilt made for me by Victoria of Bumblebeans. She wanted to swap for the collage that I made last week and I’m only too happy to send it to her! The quilt she made says my name, MAL, and she used it to practice her machine quilting skills. Looks great to me, lady! Thanks for your generosity!

I can’t wait to hang it on the walls outside my bedroom, where I’m hanging other mini-quilts.

What I worked on this week

Welcome to my slowest blogging week yet! Situations at work and with my family have eaten up most of my brainpower this week, and I am behind not only on blog writing but also blog reading. I’ve canceled all of my plans for tonight, though, and will be catching up on both reading and writing. It’s good for my mental health, and after a week like I’ve had, I’m particularly interested in what we, in The Biz, call “self care.”

MAL Quilt close-up

5 comments you should read

Of course, You All haven’t taken a break from contributing excellent and thought-provoking comments and I’m so glad to be able to highlight some of them. Be sure to always check and see what your fellow readers are saying!

(Read on for more…)

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Roundup | Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Jump straight to:

500comments

Milestone

It was good to have Dee of Dee Mallon & Cloth Company back this week from her short hiatus. You can imagine my delight to notice that she was also my 500th commenter! And such an insightful comment, too. I highly recommend you go read the whole thing, but here’s a taste.

I grew up in a house where my mother deemed her activities ‘creative’ and my father’s not (he was an engineer, she was an art teacher). I have striven not to be so linear and confining in what I consider ‘creative’ — surely building an organization, planning a birthday party, figuring out how to juggle various responsibilities, are all creative acts. One of my sons specializes in making wallets out of duct tape… what’s not to love? … I see artistic/craft endeavors having many categories — super challenging ones that push one’s technical capabilities, stuck ones (that need to go to sleep as another reader mentioned) and peaceful ones (perhaps like your hexagons?), where one can sit and relax and build something with enough time and effort. I think it’s important to have some of each.

Thanks, Dee! You’ll be getting a little prize package in the mail.

What I worked on this week

5 comments you should read

I’m going to experiment with format on this feature — attempting to limit the list of most compelling comments from the week. Then it might be less of a dump of everything that was interesting this week whatsoever and a little bit more of a reward.

(Read on for more…)

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Roundup | Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Huge stash

What happened this week

  • Worked on finishing up my submission for the Phat Quarter swap. The theme was anatomy. (I’m super excited because MrXStitch was assigned to send his to me!)
  • Made more progress on the sorting and organizing in my apartment. Hopefully after tomorrow I will have good pictures to post.
  • Finally finished up the stash project and got the giveaway prizes ready to mail.
  • Worked on the method for joining my mini quilts into a journal format. Really excited to show you this one.
  • Commiserated with many people have already discovered the magical, curative powers of showering in the dark. Here’s a list of fellow weirdos who’ve come forward so far: Emma of Furrybees, Montse from Kismet-M, Stacey from disco underworld, Deb of Emma Tree. If reading their comments doesn’t convert you, then nothing will!

Blog Highlight

Gorgeous photos and generous tutorials moved Rachel Griffith’s P.S. I Quilt out of my “Auditions” folder this week. (Warning, site plays music.)

Comments you should read

Lots of good responses on my post, What to do: Make do, encouraging us to use what we have and explore the concept of enough.

Thank you for the reminder. I’d like to think that working with less could increase my creative output but I just get so mired down in lack of. Lack of space, time, energy, whatever. I’m going to keep the words MAKE DO in the forefront of my mind and see if it helps. (Amy of A Commonplace Life)

Although I still haven’t completely conquered the desire to purchase fabric, when DH and I hit a rough financial patch three or so years ago, I developed a mantra w/regard to both quilting fabric and quilting books:

“I don’t have everything, but I have enough.”

What I found was that, if I turn the “I don’t have enough XYZ” complaint on its head–and who on Earth would ever have “everything”?–I do have enough. Enough to get started, enough to do *this* quilt top, oooooh enough to do *these* borders, etc.

And, when I made a concerted effort to use up some thread, I was astounded at how long it took to use up a large spool (like the Star brand cotton thread). So…I *definitely* have enough thread to do *these* quilt projects I’ve already cut out or pulled fabric for! (Cynthia, no blog but wonderful contributor to the discussion over here!)

Love your post. Most of the time I have more than enough. If by chance I think I need something, than comes the question what will also add something special? Use this technique not only when I’m busy with my embroidery but also when I’m cooking or any other creative work. (Elizabeth from Landanna)

Goes back to the WWII chant — use it up, wear it out, make do or do without! One more step to becoming self sufficient! (Melissa from Brinkley’s Place)

(Read on for more…)

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Resources,Roundup | Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Life is Short

What happened this week

  • I’m so pleased that turning*turning.com was honored as a “Website to Watch” in the latest issue of Disco Underworld. I’m doubly honored that Stacey, DU’s editor and creative force, has offered to write a guest post for this site! Disco Underworld is a beautifully written and visually captivating magazine honoring the life and work of everyday people around the world.
  • I finished re-reading one of my favorite books again, The Time Traveler’s Wife.
  • I’m still stuck in the organizing/purging phase of my apartment overhaul, but I have carved out more space and time to be making things.

Comments you should be sure to read

On the DVD Review: PBS Craft in America, I gave 4 stars. Lois said:

I think we all love to ‘listen in’ on what others are doing and absorb little bits here and there. Sometimes it is with complete awe when the process or result is so different than any I have ever seen. Other times it is with a warm sense of the familiar and it is good to know someone else sees, thinks, or creates in a similar way.

On Seams Behind the Scenes, I showed progress on the mini hexagon project (finally!) and talked a little about the psychology of hiding my stitches. Wendymoon is in a different place than I am right now:

Haven’t started joining them together yet, so not sure about stitches showing or not. I think I don’t mind in this case. After doing a bunch of machine sewing, I’m glad for the change and wouldn’t mind the hand stitches showing.

On What to do: Embrace Mistakes, lots of people responded. Here are some of my favorites:

(Read on for more…)

Weekly roundup

Mal | Resources,Roundup | Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Studio Corner Sneak Peek

What I worked on this week

Out there in Blogland

Some Challenges/Swaps to consider joining

 Recent comments you should read

On What to do: Kill your darlings, there was some good feedback about editing your work. 

Lainie takes me to task and gives me my favorite phrase of the week:

I’m ambivalent – not because ruthless and unsentimental editing isn’t necessary, but because we’re not always our own best editors or judges. I’ve thrown paintings (and ideas) away only to have someone else rescue them, and later these became some of my favorites. Maybe we should put our darlings in the rest home for a little while, so to speak, and check back for signs of life before pulling the plug.

Arlee wisely suggests:

I regularly go through my UFO languishers and CANNABALISE them—if *i* worked on it, there has to be parts i like, or i wouldn’t have done them to begin with, so why not just use them elsewhere?

On Life in the Shadows, many responded about what makes a “real” artist.

Cynthia (no blog) says some of the things I wish I would have said:

From the quote you’ve given in Julia Cameron’s book, it looks to me as if Ms. Cameron is a purist. There’s nothing wrong with being a purist in your own life, so long as you don’t put other people down when they don’t (or can’t) abide by your precepts.

I particularly keyed in on her sentence, “Remember, it takes nurturing to make an artist.” It also takes instruction, whether one on one or in a class (which takes $), time–to develop one’s skills to the professional/mastery level (living expenses during those years), and supplies (which take $). Many “artists” (vs. “shadow artists”) also feel that, unless one has a dedicated studio (more $), whatever one creates cannot be art, but is craft. And, of course, in the “pure” art world, craft is just…craft.

Yes, it would be wonderful if we could each follow our path of artistry in our dedicated studio and earn a living doing it. In reality, very few people can do this relative to the number who would deserve to do it based on their level of skill. Was William Carlos Williams a “shadow” doctor or a “shadow” poet? Given Ms. Cameron’s requirements, he wasn’t a full doctor OR a full poet. Hmmm…

And, lest we forget, those composers of yesteryear, like Mozart and Beethoven, died in abject poverty. Music was the only way they had of earning a living. If they didn’t have a patron to cover their living expenses, then that period of their life was very difficult, since even Mozart didn’t earn a decent living, much less a comfortable one, strictly from his composing, performing, and conducting activities. Even when he added tutoring and his wife gave private vocal instruction, Herr und Frau Mozart lived in very straitened circumstances.

And what about writers like Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, who lived as single women with their families but never earned a living with their writing? In Dickinson’s case, she wasn’t even known to have been a writer until after her death! I suppose this is OK with Ms. Cameron: so long as the artist lives in abject poverty but is pure, that’s OK. Or, in the case of Austen, so long as the artist is denied a full life (dying, ill and single, at the age of 42, never able to lie on the family couch because it was her mother’s “place”), she is a pure writer.

There’s something wrong with this kind of mean-hearted analysis. I leave it to others to determine exactly what.

Judy is going through a struggle that is close to many of our hearts:

Personally, I am wrestling about whether to give up something that I’m good at and that people want to buy (painting) and go with something that I love to do (sit and stitch). When I see ancient and folk textiles covered in hand stitch in museums I am overwhelmed by their power – this emotion is what makes me want to go with the hand stitch and leave the painting to others who are more passionate about it. The fact that I am a music teacher – well as well – I don’t even consider. I just do that like I make dinner for the family. My heart is in my hand stitch.

On Getting back to it, I asked what people do to motivate themselves out of creative slumps.

Lots of you came out with great advice about how to get the creative wheels turning again. My favorites are from Elizabeth (here), Emma (here), Stacey (here), Rebekah (here), and Leslie (here).

Roundup: Anatomical Art (Therapy)

Mal | Art Journal,Art Therapy,Resources,Roundup | Sunday, April 26th, 2009

 What hurts?

One great way to facilitate a good mind-body connection is to make artwork about your body — its ailments or its triumphs. Today I’m thinking more about ailments.

Surgery

I made a lot of art about my own body last year before, during, and after surgery. I even wrote about it here and here. As an art therapist who works in a hospital, I’m always interested in representations of physical, mental, and emotional pain.

Frida Kahlo famously lived with pain caused by childhood polio and then a traumatic bus accident. Her art is generally labeled as Surreal, though I see it as a therapeutic reflection of reality. Frankly, with varying degrees of technical skill, this is the kind of art that shows up a lot in a hospital setting. The problems of pain and the foibles of the human body are, as we all know, very very real.

fridakahlobrokencolumn

 My painting carries with it the message of pain. (Frida Kahlo)

The Problem of Pain

Obviously, the human anatomy is a common theme in artwork of all kinds. Click the image above to find out more about the artists and their work.

Other very excellent examples include:

Of course, actual physical representation is not necessary. One of my favorite flickr images is by karmapolis and is called “Mi enfermedad” (My Illness). It depicts a dragon, not a body or a brain. Other people may just use color, shapes, and lines to abstractly depict what they go through.

Parts of me

What about you? Have you ever made something about your body, an illness, or a physical ailment or triumph? Please share!

Hand-dyed threads

Mal | Resources,Roundup | Saturday, April 4th, 2009

200903318136

I recently ordered some hand-dyed threads from SharonB, who was de-stashing. They arrived all the way from Australia with a hand-written note.

IMG

Sharon is so thoughtful and appropriate. I thought it was so sweet of her to remember (and mention) my band-sampler project. I hope I grow up to be like Sharon someday.

The vibrancy of the thread’s colors nearly took my breath away and I can’t wait to find just the right project for them. In the meantime, here are some links about hand-dyed threads.

Do you stitch with hand-dyed threads? Are you intimidated by them? (I am, a little.) Do you dye your own? Did you even know such a thing existed?!

Roundup: Good News Edition

Mal | Roundup | Saturday, March 14th, 2009

20090313-mousebag

Many thanks to Sue at mousenotebook who posted about a very inviting giveaway a few weeks ago. I didn’t win the first prize (300+ hexagons already basted to paper backing!) but Sue very generously expanded the giveaway and I won the privilege of choosing something from her shop

Well, it was easy enough for me to choose the green market bag, as I’ve been trying to stock up on cloth shopping bags yet find them a bit unwieldy in practice. The little matching case for this works out perfectly! It arrived yesterday. Thanks, Sue!

There’s other good news in our little community this week, too. Be sure to swing by and congratulate:

What about you? Did you have good news this week or do you know of someone who did?

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