Monday, March 29, 2010

Inspiration Books

My love for reading is not limited to books - I'm also a bit addicted to magazines. Besides art & craft magazines, I love fashion, home dec, gardening, architecture, lifestyle and any magazine printed on recycled, non-clay coated, paper.

A couple of my favorite non-art/craft magazines are Boho and Flower. Boho is a lifestyle magazine loved both for its content and its paper. It is a fabulous source for collage images & text and I've been having great fun cutting it up for my work. Flower is a floral design magazine with terrific photography and an endless source of floral design ideas. I'm not in the flower business any more but I still love keeping up with the industry design trends.

In any given month, I get at least twenty-five magazines (we are avid recyclers of old magazines, promise!). Besides all of the art/craft ones, Elle, Vogue, Town & Country, Bazaar, Marie Claire, Architectural Digest, Uppercase, Smithsonian, Boho & Flower are the ones I love the best. It is a lot of info to take in and, honestly, only a couple of articles in each magazine really capture my attention. What I really love to do is tear them apart!

I go through the pages, tearing out images that speak to me. Sometimes it is the sleeve of a dress, sometimes a color combination or texture. Other times it is just because the image caught my eye and I want to keep it to refer to later. After an afternoon of going through a pile of magazines, I wind up with a pretty big pile of torn out pages.

The pile got totally out of control quickly and it became impossible to find what I was looking for. I wanted to organize the images so I bought a few speckled composition books - I thought they would be sturdy since the pages are sewn in and the covers are pretty thick. I just trim the images & use a glue stick to adhere them to the pages. It's not fancy but it has worked out great. I started with one book and quickly realized that I needed to have a book for each "subject".

Subjects include Collage, Quilts, Beading, Fashion, and Home. I've filled several books and have started another book for the same subject.

I enjoy looking through the books before starting a new project - it helps to wake up my creative side and often gives me ideas that I use as a jumping off point for my project. It isn't about copying what I've put in my books, it is about inspiration.

Collaging the covers of the books is fun to do and is a great way to use scraps and to play with colors. I've got a nice little collection of books with thousands of images, my little library of ideas, ever growing as I continue tearing up magazines & gluing them in my books. During busy times, like now, when I'm working long hours due to tax season, I love looking through my books and dreaming of projects I'll make after the April 15th deadline passes. Mmmm. Quite delicious, eally.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A deep breath...

"Hey, how about going for pedicures on Friday after work?", asked my sister, Valerie. And so it began. No grand adventure, but the start of a lovely, restorative evening in the midst of the "storm" of tax season.

We convinced our friend & co-worker, Ann, to join us for her first-ever pedicure. It took her a little while to relax but I think she enjoyed it in the end. I know that we all enjoyed sharing some quiet time together, devoid of clients, telephones & computer screens. And my bright pink toenails are feeling fine and looking good.

Afterwards, Ann headed home and Val and I ventured to Barnes & Noble because, well, one can never spend too much time in a bookstore, I think. Val and I have many similar interests and some very diverse ones. Spending time in a bookstore, talking about books we've read, places we want to go, finding books that lead to stories about family, memories, joys and concerns is such a great way to learn more about one another. It was a fun and relaxing evening - I am astonished that I am feeling so stress free, in the height of tax season.

"Shelter from the storm" is a collage in a (yet untitled) series I'm working on. I was reminded of it when reflecting on this evening, thinking of how just one quiet pedicure & a good long roam through a bookstore can make such a difference. We're so often told to "take time for you" - a suggestion that is most often met with 'yeah, right, like when?". Sometimes a small break is just enough - I am feeling quite restored and I know that I have a more productive weekend because of it. The investment of a few hours for "me" was well worth it and
"Heavenly" is how I'm feeling!

This last collage, "To be or not to be" is reminder of how much is thrown at us all the time and how tiny things can make a big difference. Little things like stopping to tie your shoe one the way out the door can cause you to be delayed just enough that you run into an old friend at the post office - a chance encounter that may open new doors. We like to think we are in charge but, the truth is, small things happen every day that alter our journey in many ways. I like being open to the adventure of life, keeping my eyes open, and feeding my curious nature. I once attended a lecture by the amazing doll-maker, elinor peace bailey. She spent some time discussing the importance of one little phrase, "Pay Attention". Later, I took a doll-making class from elinor, one in which we utilized one of her patterns (I made Queen Maureen, a story in itself). After class, elinor told me that she saw something in me and that I should keep developing my skills using patterns and classes as my tools but that someday, I would be making thing of my own and have no desire to use patterns made by other people. "Wow", I thought, not quite believing she saw that in me. I certainly didn't see that in myself at the time. A few years later, I found her to be right and embarked on the art adventure I am now on. Besides a couple of clothing items, I can't remember the last time I made something from a pattern.

I'm sure elinor has no recollection of ever having met me but those two encounters really changed me. Small things can mean alot when we "Pay Attention".

It's back to work for me in just a couple of hours. It will be a busy weekend at the office but I'm feeling pretty good. Rested from the journey with my sister and content in how I feel about me. Life is, indeed, good.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feeling scrappy...

When things get a bit busy around the office during tax season it becomes difficult for me to find time to work on projects that require "deep thought". In preparation for this, I try to set up some projects that are already started so I have something to work on when I have a short bit of time to spend in my studio.

One of my favorite things to do is make little quiltlets using the bits of fabric in my scrap bin. I pull out fabrics that I like together, iron them, and arrange them on a piece of Warm & Natural quilt batting. I pin down the scraps and place the whole arrangement on a piece of backing fabric. I made a good sized pile of them so I would have a nice selection.

I free motion stitch over the whole piece, playing with swirls, flowers, leaves and squiggles.

I use the finished quiltlets for projects like book covers, ATC's, pockets on tote bags, cosmetic bags, etc. My favorite book that I've made was from four of these little quilts.

I'm deep into tax season now and have turned to my stash of ready-to-stitch quiltlets. There is something very relaxing and satisfying about sitting at my sewing machine that is a great stress reliever - and since these are "no pressure" projects it is even more relaxing.

I will pile up my little quilts, to be made into bigger projects when I have the "brain space" to figure out what to do with them.
Besides these quiltlets, I have done a couple of other things in the creative department... I'm still taking the printmaking class and this week we were taught drypoint (on copper). I've engraved two plates and will be printing them tomorrow night. I'm really interested to see how much detail will come out of what I've done. We got snowed out last week but the week before I did linoleum block printing and I love some of the results. I'll post photos of the lino block and drypoint prints next week.

I also made my collages for the 13th Annual Collage Exchange run by the amazing Dale Copeland of New Zealand. This is my fourth year of participating and it is great fun. There is still time to participate - check it out at to see what it is all about. Dale posts images of the collages that are submitted and one collage by each artist is sold through her site. By participating, I receive a dozen collages back for the dozen I send in and I've developed a nice collection of art from all over the world through this exchange. It's great fun and I wouldn't miss it! I don't want to post photos of what I did yet - I will do so after Dale puts the site up.

Well, time for bed, lots of tax returns are waiting for me at my "day job"! It will be easy to fall asleep tonight, I feel so relaxed after spending a little time with my friendly Bernina!