Creative Dry Spells

I think I can safely say I have suffered from “Creative Dry Spells” in all forms of my artistic endeavors. It is like being in a depressed mood; you know it will pass but it does not make it any the less painful. They are not fun, nor can you talk yourself out of them; the best thing to do is ignore them for a day or two and then try to work thru them or just do something else like cleaning (ugh) or cooking. Cleaning should convince you to be creative real quick and cooking can be creative also yummy if you bake or make desserts.

I read somewhere (probably another blog but I forgot to write down whose blog) some ways to get the creative juices flowing again. I have adapted them to needleart thoughts:

  1. Spend some time with your stash
  2. Finish a UFO or several
  3. Practice a stitch/technique you haven’t mastered or would like to learn
  4. Look ahead to projects you must finish:
  • Designers/teachers have deadline
  • Finishing deadlines
  • Work under pressure
  1. Just keep active.

Sometimes any of these are easier said than done depending on how “dry” you are feeling.

Sometimes spending some “me time” with a cuppa and your favorite needlework books and/or magazines can help. I love my books and looking through them may give you an idea of something to stitch, a technique to try or maybe you will just relax and look at the pictures.

Sometimes no matter what you do nothing speaks to you; then it may be time for some artistic needlework enhancement. In other words, a trip to your local needlework shopS (sometimes it takes more than one). Going to your favorite places is good for two reasons:

  1. It may spark your creative juices with something as simple as a new thread for that project you saw in your stash. You may find a new canvas that speaks to you and if all else fails…
  2. You are at least spending time with other creative people and this is good. They may remind you of a canvas you have at home that you were really dying to stitch just a few weeks ago. They may show you a new technique they are working on, a new stitch, a new thread, or maybe just give you a smile that will brighten your day.

And if you are lucky enough to have more than one shop in your area you have that many more chances to get those creative juices flowing…whatever it takes to spark those fingers. And if you are really lucky, maybe you can sit and visit with others. You don’t have to be stitching something, you can just visit. I visit a group(s) and not everyone is stitching needlepoint, some are knitting, some are stash enhancing, and others have just come by to visit.

And we learn from each other and the more diverse and wide our circle of creative friends is the more we learn…there are no limits to creative thoughts. Attending guild meetings, having stitch-ins, maybe just going for a cuppa and stitching there. Just think for a minute about threading a needle; you know people who:

  1. Thread a needle with the end going immediately through the eye of the needle
  2. Bend the thread over the needle and then thread that bend through the eye of the needle.
  3. Pinch the thread tightly between their thumb and index finger and saw the eye of the needle onto the thread
  4. Wet the end of the thread and place thread through eye of needle … or
  5. Use a needle threader.

None of these are wrong, None is better than another…it is what works for you. But if some needle artist is having trouble threading a needle just being around other needle artists may give her the idea she needs to thread her needle. I know that is pretty simplistic but you get the idea.

If you don’t want to tempt you credit card, watch a love flick, visit an art gallery, visit a park, just take a walk. Anything will do to keep you from sitting and brooding about the “dry spell”.

I have two artist friends that seem to ward off  dry spells by drawing every day; they have notebooks of their works. I am not that disciplined and that’s probably why they make a living at their art and my art just keeps my sanity.

One of my friends tries to go out and about every day to see inspiration. He will draw and paint in his notebook people and places around him. Recently at an art fair, I ask him if I could see his journal and he shared it with me. He was in a mall at an art fair, yet found the time to capture the other artists around him. Each entry has the day and date of the week (he told me it was like his day planner). Not only was there an image of his fellow artists but a small drawing of the type of art they were showing. WOW! I spent several minutes looking through his diary and it was such a privilege; I felt like he not only trusted me very much. He had let me see into his soul; it really was a special moment. I did not read his thoughts but just looking at the pictures he had drawn. I left his booth maybe not inspired but feeling sooooo uplifted.

My other artist friend is a former art professor and he lives close to his former university. You can visit him anytime he is in town and he will listen to you and then in his own magical way give you some thoughts to ponder. He never gives you “his answer” because then you would not be working through your problem. Once a week, when he is in town, he holds “tea time”; an open date to just visit with others of like mind, have tea and discuss whatever comes up, such an enlightening way to give so much insight into so many things. It is no wonder all he asks is for you to RSVP your attendance; these events are attended by friends, former students and students who have heard about him through their professors. And even though it may be a crowded place on occasion, you always come away feeling inspired and more than that hopeful, optimistic.

So, I think I will be off to look at my stash and maybe it will trigger something.  I hope you are not having a creative dry spell but if you are, join me by going through your stash and let’s see what happens.  I really hope you can just go stitch and have fun.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

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A new book: Raised Embroidery by Kelley Aldridge

So last week I spent sorting books and the same week received a new book.

I love books. They are like friends to me; some are close friends and I wouldn’t part with them and some are acquaintances. And like friends they have different interests; some friends like goldwork, some like stumpwork, some ribbonwork, others like beading and color or design. But even with their differences, they all have creativity in common.

And my newest friend is from the Royal School of Needlework (http://www.royal-needlework.org.uk/) libraries, Raised Embroidery by Kelley Aldridge.  Kelley’s first statement in this new book is: “There are already a number if excellent books available on this subject, written by some very talented embroidery artists, but this book is about exploring new possibilities.”  I like that!

While the material in this book is basic, the inspiration just jumps off the pages. The photographs are clear and concise and the information is presented in a clear and orderly fashion.  I learned how to wrap an embroidery hoop which I have never seen in any other book and I love the little blue boxes with hints…hints always make a task so much easier. And I have always referred to this technique as stumpwork but Raised Embroidery is more accurate as it incorporates more techniques to give a three dimensional look to your needlework.

But my favorite thing about the book is the new needle artists she introduces with pictures of their work, and in one area she mentioned a ceramic artist that inspired her.  I spent some time google-ing these artists and was introduced to more artists that will inspire me to continue my study of Raised Embroidery.

 

I have toyed with Raised Embroidery over the years; my first attempt was my stitching doll. She has all sorts of techniques on her: her hair is couched doll hair that I added after I put her together. Her apron is needlelace and her hands are stumpwork and I added sewing embellishments for her to hold.

 

 

 

Many years later I did leaves for the cherries on my heart (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/a-heart-for-all/), the feathers on my shuttlecock on my Nelson Art Gallery piece (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/nelson-atkins-museum-of-art-needlepoint/) and most recently several different areas on the Wicked piece (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/melissa-shirley-wicked-fun-stuff/) were raised work.

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So with my new book and new ideas fermenting in my brain (Thanks Kelley for the idea of small projects in a large glass bowl) I will pursue one of the techniques on my thimble (instead of bucket) list.

And if you would also like to add a book to your library for inspiration I recommend Kelley Aldridge’s Raised Embroidery. It has techniques and projects but the pure inspiration is the best! The title says so and it’s true. And be sure and Google the people mentioned in the book too; they have more inspiration to share.

 

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

Books to start the new year

My DH is getting good at using my Amazon Wish List and I am grateful. This year I was getting ready to order my usual Christmas book for myself when two packages arrive from Amazon. Since I hadn’t ordered anything I asked DH and low and behold they were for me…lucky me getting the perfect gift something from my want list and a Christmas read too. 😉
My 2012 Christmas books are:

Granny Square Book

Granny Square Book

The Granny Square Book by Margaret Hubert. I can’t knit one stitch but crochet is up my alley and Granny squares are a three generation favorite in my family. And January is yarn sale month at Joann’s and local knit shop so I think I see a Granny Square something in my future. As I looked through this book all I could think about was Carrie Hall who had wanted to make a quilt of each pattern available, but soon decided that was an impossible task and so settled on trying to making one of every quilt block she knew. This quilt block collection is part of Spencer Gallery of Art at KU (http://www.spencerart.ku.edu/ ) Lawrence Kansas and the subject of the book, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt by Carrie A. Hall and Rose Kretsinger. The different granny squares remind me of those quilt blocks. Maybe I’ll make a quilt with different crocheted blocks.

The Pattern Book

The Pattern Book

The next book is The Pattern Library Needlepoint, edited by Amy Carrol. I have a friend who has this book; I have always liked it and have had it on my want list even when it wasn’t always available. This 96 page book has many of the typical stitches with stitch diagrams and uses (i.e. Gobelin, knitting stitch, diagonal mosaic…) but each of these stitches is shown stitched using different color threads to make a pattern within the stitch. There are 15 pages of bargello patterns, and a section on borders, stripes and corners. It’s a great little reference book for any needlepoint library. Note: I think I noticed in Amy Bunger’s January newsletter (http://www.amybunger.com/home.html), she has one for sale too.

Embroidered Portraits

Embroidered Portraits

My final gift book is: Embroidered Portraits by Jan Messent. Jan writes great how to books that are full of good advice and inspiration. She shows faces in full, profile and three-quarter, some are stitched and some are painted. She layers the areas and gives hints on stitching. I had forgotten from my art class days that woman’s necks appear longer than men’s necks…it’s one of those things you know but the reminder is refreshing. I really liked this book and I am even contemplating making a portrait of my grandmother in needlepoint.

Three heads

Three heads

When you have three good books to start the new year, the year is off to a good start! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have time to stitch today!
ttfn…sue

Royal Wedding and Needlework

I set my recorders last night for the Royal Weddings, BBC, ABC and NBC; but I still got up this morning at 4:00AM to watch. I woke up, knew if I didn’t get up I would kick myself so I got up. I really enjoyed every moment and wish the BBC would have kept the entire day “live.”  The Royal Wedding has its own webpage (http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/tag/homepage/page/1 ).

And in case you have not heard, the Royal School of Needlework (http://www.royal-needlework.org.uk/ assisted Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen in making the Catherine’s wedding dress design become a dream come true. (http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/blog/2011/April/29/The-Wedding-Dress–Bridesmaids–Dresses-and-Pages–Uniforms ) .

I did a bit of stitching today…the first I’ve done since the carrots.  I basted the areas for a design I am going to teach for my guild next year. Each square is individually basted so I can remove the basting before stitching the area. I have not set in stone what I am doing in each square nor the center yet but I have several ideas I am working through. I want very little if any compensation; I think it is much easier to understand a new technique if compensation is kept to a minimum.  I have never been fond of the word teach, it always makes me think of someone who has more knowledge than someone else; AND trust me there are many stitchers who have forgotten more than I am ever going to learn. But I am going to share what I have learned by reading, studying, and practicing a brief study of pattern couching.  I am using the following books for this study, but would appreciate any other suggestions anyone might have:

Jean Taggert; Laid Fillings for evenweave fabrics

Jane Zimmerman; Traditional Silk and Metal Thread Techniques on Canvas

Jane Lemon; Metal Thread Embroidery

I don’t stitch Christmas stockings, but I have a friend who has stitched about 20 or so stockings for her family over the past 15 years. I’m just putting this one on a scroll frame for her. I think this will be a good project for this afternoon as I see a nap in my future.

2010 in review

Late start this morning…guess I must have needed the rest.

WordPress sent everyone one of these summaries…the ones I have seen have been positive, BUT I wonder…did anyone get a “you better improve…” rating? I certainly feel I could have fallen into that category and I’m sure I belong in the yellow-green category as opposed to the green one.

My other thoughts after I received this summary was what time does everyone post to their blog? I have been unofficially keeping my own record and it seems so far 8-10AM or 8-9 PM have the most votes. What time do you post and why? Do you write blogs ahead or on the fly? If ahead, how many blogs ahead to you prewrite? Do you write blogs to be posted at a later time? And then what time do you read blogs?

Guess if I’m asking all these questions I could give my answers too…

What time do you post and why? I’m not sure yet but I think I will try to post in the morning before I read my saved blogs.

Do you write blogs ahead or on the fly? If ahead, how many blogs ahead to you prewrite? In the past, I wrote on the fly, but my mind would go blank or I would decide it was a dumb post and therefore nothing would get posted. Then I’d go into a dry spell and of course you all know the results…weeks of nothing. SO-O_O_O,  I have been trying to prewrite blogs, so I can find some of the big mistakes (not that there still aren’t going to be plenty to go around) and also I can’t think on the fly as well as if I incubate. The disadvantage to this is that some blog ideas become stale before I get my thoughts together. I have been trying to write just two blogs ahead to avoid this. I don’t want to feel like I am out of sink.

NOTE: just read about a blog a day or a blog a week that WordPress is promoting http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/challenge-for-2011-want-to-blog-more-often/ . Yeah, a blog a day from me…not going to happen and I could feel myself withdrawing as I read this…I might be able to do a blog a week but I think I will keep that little tidbit to myself also. I seem to have the “kiss of death” syndrome when it comes to blog writing. Back to questions…

Do you write blogs to be posted at a later time? I did one just to see if it would post at the assigned time. Usually when I put it in WordPress, add the pictures, I send it.

And then what time do you read blogs? I try to read the saved blogs I watch either in the morning with my coffee and after I have posted my blog (if posting) and also in the evening before I go to bed.

Here are my results from WordPress: There is a mistake, my busiest day was Dec 26th with 194 views (94 were my post on the ornaments, 54 were just visiting the home page, and the rest were misc); but the heart was popular too.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,000 times in 2010. That’s about 22 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 27 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 138 posts. There were 79 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 20th with 116 views. The most popular post that day was A heart for all.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were two-handedstitcher.blogspot.com, nuts-about-needlepoint.com, needlework.craftgossip.com, frontrangestitches.blogspot.com, and needleartnut.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for blackwork, betty chen louis, ort box, hardanger, and temari balls.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

A heart for all February 2010
3 comments

2

Betty Chen Louis April 2010
1 comment

3

Repurposed Drapery Hook April 2010

4

Another TIF for March & a quick gift March 2008

5

I Lay, I Layed, I will Lay…threads March 2009
3 comments

Hope everyone has time to stitch today!

ttfn…sue

March TIF

I’ve had these finished for a couple days, just needed to attend to the “detail” of taking pictures…

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I  went with the  color motif and did not pay much attention to the “little things, the small moments, the details in life? This months challenge is to do just that, pay attention to the tiny details.” But as I was making the temari balls base, I realized that without paying attention to the tiny details my temari bases are not round and firm. So I do unconsciously pay attention to details. I am more aware that I pay attention to the detail of marking the temari another important step if the temari are to be as even as possible.  

It is amazing how many of the “tiny details” we take for granted or simply ignore because we do them everyday or every time we apply our art of choice. I was in my local needlepoint shop not long ago and a woman came in seeking advice about a thread and stitch. I went to show her a stitch on the extra space of her canvas and there was no extra space…i.e. it is recommended to have minimum 2 inches on all sides of the design area of a needlepoint canvas and 1.5 inches is the absolute minimum. Anyway, there was barely an inch all around,more like 1/2 inch and this was covering the stretcher bars. Thank goodness she was using these because I can’t imagine how she ever would have gotten it blocked back into shape otherwise. I did ask her if she had these professionally blocked & finished and she said she didn’t think it was necessary to block her needlework because she worked on a frame and she finished everything herself. Since I have never seen the woman before and I have never seen anything she’s finished I can’t comment.  I thought to myself that if she was happy and the receiver of the needlework was happy, who really cared if it was perfect.. some child or grandchild was probably thrilled to have something Grandmother made. And I also silently thought to myself, the shop finisher was probably grateful she was finishing herself. But really, isn’t all about the love we put into our work? Anyway that was the least of the immediate problems…Every thread she had stitched with still had its tail parked somewhere on the canvas. I did suggest she start to bury these threads in the appropriate areas and to avoid placing dark threads in light areas. I did several of these so I could demonstrate the stitch in the appropriate area. I used an away knot to start and explained I did so, so if she chose not to use this stitch she could remove the thread easily. I did suggest she add a “bit more canvas around the design” so she would have an area to practice a new stitch or thread if desired. I don’t think she will ever had the recommended 2 inches but maybe her next design will not be up against her stretcher bars.

My point is that we take many things for granted when we have been applying out art for some time or have learned our art from a professional or someone dedicated to the proper way to execute the art. I know there are no hard fast rules, but there are recommendations that are very helpful. I always tell students, this is my way to do this…there are many other ways out there and many other teachers to teach you their way. You need to try their way and sometimes there is a reason they do what they do. But if after the class is completed, you want to replace a stitch, thread or the way the stitch is executed be my guest. It is your piece and you have to be happy with the piece. There are no needleart police. As my grandmother used to tell me, “Nothing is for certain but death. If you want to change or try something new, fine…But first learn to walk before you try to run.”

So I guess I do notice the little things even though I am not always aware of them. I am trying to slow down and notice the small things…

Have a wonderful change of season no matter where you live. I am really looking forward to the blessings of Spring and all the new, fresh little things I hope to notice.

ttfn…sue

Spent the Day absorbing

Yesterday I indulged myself and spent the day absorbing needleart.

I went to the final day of the NAN (National Academy of Needlearts) Exemplary show. NAN has there annual conference in Kansas City, Mo. It is a week of classes and the exhibit with excellent teachers to motivate and inspire. You can read all about NAN on their web site:  http://www.needleart.org/ and even look at many of the former prize winners of past Exemplary exhibits. It is pretty inspiring.

One of the things that really impressed me was a entry from Mary S. In her artist statement she stated that she prefers to work in “…’common materials’ cotton rather than silkmaterials accessible to everyone”…and “by keeping the cost reasonable can motivate /inspire others.”  I think silk is a great old thread, it is expensive but I still do not have a problem using silk. I think many of out antique needlework pieces are stitched in either silk or cotton and look how long they have lasted. But in theory I agree with Mary, I think it is nice to use the new threads and without them our needlework would be very boring, but sometimes from a teaching/designing point of view this can be very frustrating. Sometimes by the time a design gets to the retail level threads have been discontinued. If you are designing a piece for teaching, this can be very frustrating since the teacher either has to try and buy up enough of the discontinued thread to teach the piece at least once (maybe more if she can buy enough thread) or find a substitute for this thread without disturbing the color and design balance of the piece. Usually this replacement involves stitching a new class model too. And sometimes using the old stand-bys is no guarantee either…who would have thought DMC would discontinue Medici.

Another thing that really inspired me and I hope motivated me were the color and design notebooks of the teaching candidates. I love color and design and have taken many color and design classes, I have shelves of books on color and design, AND have this computer paper box(s) filled with “stuff” that I have saved for a color and design notebooks. I even have the 4 inch notebooks sitting on the shelf but the box and the notebook have yet to come together. It is one of my “round tuits.” I am motivated to work on this project!

After a great lunch with friends and many of the NAN participants, I picking up my entries in the Exemplary ( 2 of the February TIF temari balls), and I headed home with my mind full of good ideas and great intentions.  And yesterday was another beautiful day…a taste of Spring and today promises to be another beautiful day before the rain comes in.

Have a beautiful day! ttfn…sue