Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Creativity ~ The New Super Power!

feet in the ocean water

2012 was a wild and crazy year for me. It all started with my word of the year for 2012. Empower. I spend a lot of time empowering my students in classes and empowering the stores and companies I work with spreading product love, inspiration and understanding. But, I wasn't spending much time empowering myself.

The crazy thing about picking a guiding word for the year is that you are never quite sure where it will take you and how it will manifest. I always write my word on a few post it notes and put them on my computer, in my studio and wherever else I need one. Last year I should have put one in my Kindle because I was on the road so much! This word, empower, took me down paths of discovery that I had barely known exhisted. This word made me stretch and grow and feel a little pain too.

You see, along the empowerment journey I found myself smacked in the face with the fact that I have been playing very small in my task here on earth. I have allowed myself to simply put my feet in the ocean rather than diving into the waves. I let myself be convinced that what I do isn't all that important. Sure I got great feedback from my students and I LOVE teaching and talking about creativity. I get such a rush from inspiring someone but is it important to anyone but me? Does anyone care about making art that speaks from their heart and touches their soul? Art that allows them to tell their story? Does anyone really care about being creative?  I guess you could say I was losing my passion. I was in a rut.

But then came the challenge. I wasn't diving into the deep end. I wasn't being authentic. I wasn't letting you know just how passionate I am about teaching creativity. I was holding back because it is scary to let strangers and even friends know how much I care about creativity. They would think I was nuts.

Could I really say out loud that I believe that creativity is what will save our country? Save our planet? Save our humanity?

If I was brave...I could.

So I did.

To a room of non-creative people.

I was scared I would sound stupid but nobody laughed.

They wanted to know more. They wanted to learn how they could be more creative.

I know how to do that! That is what makes my heart sing.

Are you ready for my word for 2013? ACTION. I have new classes in the works and some exciting projects that will take a bit more time but will allow me to spread creativity far and wide.

I am excited.

I have found my passion again.

Come along with me and we will change the world and have so much fun creating while we do it!

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Jumping Back into Art

A sneak peek inside my book



I have just sent in the final samples for my newest book about beading on fabric! I am excited that it is finished except for the dotting of the 'i's and crossing of the 't's. It will be making its debut at Quilt Market in Houston this October. When I am writing and creating a book I am a bit prone to hyper-focusing. Everything that is not 'beading' gets less of my attention. Beading took over my life. How fun is that? I especially loved the part where I took over the entire kitchen table because it was too chilly in my studio to bead for hours on end. The family is happy I am finished too!!

Anyone else see strands of beads here?



When I come out of that hyper-focus mode I have a difficult time transitioning back into my art...my art that isn't beading. Somehow it seems easier to stick with the left brain tasks on my computer than head down to the studio to begin a new project.Fortunately my friend Jill Berry suggested a sketching date at the Denver Botanic Gardens! It is unusual for us to both be at home the same week so we were thrilled to easily find a day we could meet up.

The weather was perfect and the wave after wave of garden color was delicious. We were more than delighted to find an incredible installation in bamboo. Words are not adequate to describe the intricate weavings and sculptures created by artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik. Jill and I sketched their amazing forms and wondered for hours soaking up their shapes.

I left the Botanic Gardens full of art inspiration and color excitement. I will be diving into the studio this weekend refreshed and ready to create. What do you do to get your creative mojo flowing?

 
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Jumping Back into Art

 

I have just sent in the final samples for my newest book about beading on fabric! I am excited that it is finished except for the dotting of the 'i's and crossing of the 't's. It will be making its debut at Quilt Market in Houston this October. When I am writing and creating a book I am a bit prone to hyper-focusing. Everything that is not 'beading' gets less of my attention. Beading took over my life. How fun is that? I especially loved the part where I took over the entire kitchen table because it was too chilly in my studio to bead for hours on end. The family is happy I am finished too!!

 

When I come out of that hyper-focus mode I have a difficult time transitioning back into my art...my art that isn't beading. Somehow it seems easier to stick with the left brain tasks on my computer than head down to the studio to begin a new project.Fortunately my friend Jill Berry suggested a sketching date at the Denver Botanic Gardens! It is unusual for us to both be at home the same week so we were thrilled to easily find a day we could meet up.

The weather was perfect and the wave after wave of garden color was delicious. We were more than delighted to find an incredible installation in bamboo. Words are not adequate to describe the intricate weavings and sculptures created by artists Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik. Jill and I sketched their amazing forms and wondered for hours soaking up their shapes.

I left the Botanic Gardens full of art inspiration and color excitement. I will be diving into the studio this weekend refreshed and ready to create. What do you do to get your creative mojo flowing?  

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Practicing Imperfection

afternoon shadowsThis time of year I try to look back at what I have accomplished the previous year. Today I am celebrating my progress toward embracing imperfection. My hard practice is paying off! I won’t get cocky though and give up my daily practice…one must be dedicated to that which they want to achieve after all. For starters, the photos in this post have nothing to do with our holiday celebration because I didn't take any...totally forgot! I could skip the post because I don't have the perfect photos but that would be giving in to perfection.

I know, it sounds silly to have to practice imperfection but I have to practice every day! I am a Perfectionist; a type A, workaholic, first born, product of 16 years of Catholic school kinda girl. Perfectionism is part of my core identity.  It has taken me years of battle with this cunning demon and I have made a lot of progress keeping it at bay. However, my perfection demon always likes to tempt me during the holidays demanding that I put on the best Christmas ever.

vintage christmas ornamentThis year, I set my Christmas Eve family table with a fine linen tablecloth that I hand dyed in shades of green and blue...a little unusual but fun. My napkins were dyed to match but perfection ended there! (Actually my dyeing is sort of random so the didn't match perfectly anyway.) I didn’t iron one bit of it…it adorned my table in all its wrinkled glory. This is a BIG DEAL! At one point in my life I ironed my boy’s tee shirts. Yes…their little tiny tee shirts, jeans and even pjs. Looking back I know my life was more than a little insane at that point and my obsessive ironing was probably an attempt to bring order to the chaos but still…little boys tee shirts???

Our Christmas dinner was a delicious gluten free lasagna. Woot! Win over perfection #2: I didn’t make it! We bought it…pre-made/homemade Taste of Life GF meals to go. A few of my loyal readers know that I have a lot of dietary restrictions including almost all the ingredients of lasagna. However, my son has been asking for lasagna for ages so Christmas seemed a perfect time to grant his request. I did feel guilty about not making it myself…yes, even though I couldn’t eat any of it my perfectionist demon suggested that I was less than a good mother for purchasing a frozen lasagna for Christmas! But, I overcame my demon with the help of my good husband and some will power. I didn’t give in to the guilt of being imperfect.

I have been pleasantly surprised by a side effect of my imperfection practice: calmness and a sense of peace. Yup, this girl is learning to let go of the stress of leading a perfect life and finding joy in just letting things be what they are. Not saying it is easy but it is good.



I am ready to let go of something else in my life this next year. I am not sure exactly what yet. Maybe it will be banishing self-doubt or guilt…ok, so given my background getting rid of guilt probably would be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Maybe I will save that for another year.

Is there something that you want to give up this year? Something that will bring you closer to the life you want to have?
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Walk With Me ~ Sand Dunes

Over Thanksgiving I was in Alamogordo New Mexico to visit family. It was a great gathering of family and friends. Every trip there finds us visiting White Sands National Monument. White Sands is 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. It is an amazing place and it always captivates us. Our trips usually entail hauling kids up to the top of the dunes and watching them sled down however on this trip, the 'kids' had left early and we were left with some sturdy hikers and a couple of dogs that needed to run so we took one of the 'trail' hikes.

I use the term 'trail' loosely here. The trail is marked by posts sticking up along the path and one is warned that if they can't see the next post turn back because you will become hopelessly lost. The few stalwart plants cast beautiful shadows in the winter afternoon sun. You have to wonder how they survive in this seemingly barren land.

After a few minutes of trudging up and down dunes under incredible blue skies one may think 'well that is enough of that...let's go home'. But, like most desert landscapes one must persevere, slow down and take a closer look at what is around you. I find that a lot of life is like that too...sometimes you just have to slow down and examine things a bit closer to see what is really going on. You would not believe the many different types of lines the wind carves in the sand. Some are straight, some are more organic, some start and leave off with out a plan that I can discern. Some lines form patterns that are familiar and comfortable while others look like they must be from a different world. Lots of art inspiration to be found in all those lines.

This was the only eroded 'structure' that we saw that wasn't caused by a plant. Makes one wonder what is different about this spot of sand. Mostly the sand just blows where it wants, moving those giant dunes one grain at a time. One trail marker was almost totally buried, another was laying on the ground because the sand had blown away from the base.

It would be easy to become philosophical when walking the dunes...the silence and ripple lines of sand lend themselves to meditation and introspection...well that is if you didn't have 2 dogs dashing about hither and yon and the wind howling in your ears it would be serene.  I was simply happy to have the warm sun on my face and just 'be' in the moment. A gift found amidst the chaos of the holiday season...one that I can pull out when I need a few moments of virtual quiet and warm sun.
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Salt Spring Adventure

on the ferry to Salt Spring Island BC



Just before I headed to Portland for Art and Soul earlier this month I had a little side trip to Salt Spring Island BC to take a class from Nick Bantock. My husband came along for the adventure and let me tell you...getting to Salt Spring is an adventure all by itself. We spent countless hours trying to figure out the least expensive way to get there that involved the fewest ferry rides. We also made a side trip to Portland to drop off my extensive classroom supplies for Art and Soul. Crossing the border with a car packed to the gills with art and supplies is bound to end up with us in the little back room.

totally lush Salt Spring



We arrived a day and a half before the class so we could explore the island and hike. It was amazingly green and lush. I grew up on the east coast (VA) and my husband grew up in the South (Louisiana and such) so we thought we knew what to expect but we were completely amazed at how wet everything was. The sun did shine for parts of a couple days and of course everyone on the island said it hadn't rained for weeks and weeks before we got there...isn't that always the case?

gerry oaks



One of our hikes lead us to this grove of Gerry oaks. They looked like Colorado gamble (scrub) oaks gone wild! So it was familiar and yet a strange environment we explored. The Gerrys are behind the pine tree in the photo above.

I don't take many classes these days mostly because my schedule is so full. I almost didn't sign up for this class with  Nick Bantock but am so glad I did. It was incredible. I have long admired his collage work and of course am completely drawn in by the way he weaves his art with story. Our two day class was split evenly between his philosophy of making art, what it means to be an artist and techniques. Nick has that rare talent in a teacher to ask the questions that need to be asked in order for you to grow as an artist or even as a human. My fellow students were a great bunch and everyone created wonderful work but I am sad to say I didn't get any photos! My piece is not ready for prime time yet...it is still evolving. I will share it when it is finished.

Be sure to check out Nick's new blog: Wasnick and if you are in Spain or Italy this next year you may want to take one of his workshops there. It is not in my budget at the moment but maybe 2013...
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Who says you're an artist?


I had a great weekend…started with my Visual Journaling class on Sat morning where I had them take a baby step toward drawing and they were brave! Then I took my students on a field trip to Denver…well technically, one of my students drove so I guess she took us. We went to hear a talk given by Laurie M Hawley of Aha Life Designs. Laurie’s topic was the Road to Authenticity – Embracing Imperfection and Feeling Worthy. The talk was inspired by Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.I am a big fan of Brene Brown. She has a couple of talks available on TED that are really great. Laurie shared her experiences on her journey to discovering joy in her life as well as facing the painful parts of embracing imperfection.

A lot of what Laurie talked about really resonated with me…my own journey...especially  being a perfectionist as it is something that I have and still do struggle with. Perfectionists continually seek external validation. Laurie talked about her creativity and life coaching business and how she strives to be the best coach she can be and to that end is continually participating in further training. Which is great for her clients but when is enough, enough? When do ‘they’ see fit declare that you an expert…or in my case, an artist?

I wanted to be an interior designer when I was young but that wasn’t ‘practical’ so I got my degree in business management. Years later when I decided that I really wanted to be an artist my first roadblock was how to go to art school? I didn’t have the time or money to go to art school and everybody said you really had to have an MFA to be an artist. I longingly perused the UK’s City and Guild’s program…even on-line it was still too expensive. How would I get the certificate that declared, YES, I was an artist?? I decided that formal education would just have to wait until the kids were launched even though that meant I wouldn’t get that validation until I was at least 56 and maybe even 60.


In the mean time I took whatever workshops I could, read every book I could get my hand on, joined art groups and I took baby steps. I changed the name of my sewing room to ‘studio’. That was incredibly difficult! It took me at least 3 years to feel comfortable calling it a ‘studio’. I mean really…how pretentious!! I certainly couldn’t bring myself to utter the words ‘I am an artist’. When friends called me an artist I rolled my eyes and dismissed their comments…after all, I hadn’t earned that degree yet!

A funny thing happened while I was busy raising my family, homeschooling, taking creative technique classes, and making stuff. I became an artist. I still didn’t have the diploma that officially declared it but the more confident I became in my skills and the more I talked to ‘real artists’ it slowly dawned on me that being an artist isn’t like being a lawyer. There isn’t a test to pass, a degree required or any hoops to jump through. Being an artist is a state of mind. The only person, entity or even country that can truly declare someone an artist is one’s self.

Go ahead…declare yourself an artist! Hey, want to make today Declare Yourself an Artist Day? We could start a movement!

The photos in this post are from my very first soy wax batik experiments done last Thursday at my Discovery group. This group explores art techniques...not always related to cloth. If you are in the Colorado Springs area let me know and I will send you the meeting details. We always have fun and I am now in love with soy!
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What's In a Name?




Art~Craft, Studio~Sewing room~Craft room, Artist~Crafter~Dabbler…what do you call yourself? What we name ourselves and our spaces is important...it is one of the ways we tell the world what is important to us. When I decided that I wanted to become more serious about my passion for stitching and art I thought I should change the name of my sewing room to studio. Easy right? NOT! I felt so pretentious calling my messy thread covered room a studio. It actually took me 2 years to make that change. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the title of ‘artist’ for another 2 years.

What is the big deal about the title artist? Why have we elevated the title ‘artist’ to an award we bestow upon a small percentage of our population? Who gets to decide who is eligible to be an ‘artist’? Back in the middle ages many things we consider art today were thought of as craft…painting was no different an occupation than a cobbler. During the Renaissance painters and sculptors got a boost up the ladder to join poets and musicians as ‘artists’. The art academies later elevated these media to the status of ‘fine art’. More recent movements in the art world are bringing art back into the hands of the masses and changing the way we look at and define art. Has the pendulum traced its longest period? I hope so!

Everything in nature seeks balance and I think we will see more acceptance in the art world as we as individuals balance art and technology…even combining our art and technology. The art~craft debate will slowly die off as we allow the creator to define which of their creations are art and which are craft. When I think about the future of art in all the different media and forms I get so excited. One day, we will look back and laugh that we even had such silly arguments over art and craft…sort of the way we laugh at the clothes we wore in high school.

Art is nourishment for the human spirit. We are all born to create stuff and we are all better humans when we do just that. Go make the world a better place…go make some art in your studio!
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