Creative Block

Have you ever experienced a creative block?
What technique or process do you go through to get back on track?
Usually, taking a walk gets me started. Sometimes, ideas come to my head in the wee hours of the morning. Other times, just thinking of family, events, or friends, can get me on the track of making something.

This week, I realized I was tired of making the same type of things. I was stuck…not motivated. Quilts, thread sketches, small art, fabric art…just didn’t set me on fire. I made one fabric collage that I embroidered instead of thread sketching, but it was not fun.

Ducks on the river in Brackenridge Park were cute, but not inspiring.
My sister sent a great photo of a praying mantis…but I did nothing with it.

I made more masks for friends, family, and myself. I tried new patterns for making these masks. Making masks may not be my favorite thing to do, but it is one way to help people. It was fun trying out new patterns. I plan to continue making masks and build up a stash to have ready for anyone who needs one.

I guess that having a creative block during this pandemic is not really a problem. But for me, it is this creative process that is keeping me healthy and helping me through this unstable and scary period.
I texted my sister, Emma, to see what she does when she hits a jag. She gave me a few starters that sounded challenging.
She suggested I try drawing something with my non-dominant hand to get the creativity going. She also suggested drawing with my eyes closed. Emma did say that she did not recommend me thread sketching with my eyes closed. πŸ™‚

So, I drew a selfie, using my left hand. The results were a bit shaky, but it made me smile. Then I drew some birds, using my left hand. I found it to be challenging and fun. Then, I thought about trying to draw with my left hand, but this time on fabric. This was a bit more difficult, but I liked the results. I drew a Willow Tit bird. At first, I drew it with the tail up, but their tails extend straight back. So I covered up my mistake by adding a fabric tree limb and some leaves. I started embroidering with my right hand, but decided to switch to my left hand. Funny, but I had less needle pokes using my left hand than I usually have when I use my right hand. This exercise of using my left hand really helped me with my focus…which has been off lately.

After completing the bird embroidery, I called my friend at the Mesquite Bean to talk about a quilt that I want to make for my grandbaby. We talked design and fabric over the phone for a good part of the day. Then I went to pick up the fabric. It is such a fun fabric and design, and I hope to start on this quilt soon.

My son sent me a photo of some art from my granddaughter. I love seeing her art. I love to hear her talk about her process and I love watching her work. We spend time on Zoom, drawing together. We learned how to use the whiteboard on Zoom. Once again, I have been inspired by one of my grandchildren. I am also looking forward to seeing what my grandson creates this week. I think I might pull out my water colors or pastels again. I have not sketched or painted on paper for a while. It might be fun to dabble around again.

It seems like switching things around a bit helped me to reboot.
I would love to hear what you do whenever you have a lapse or hit a creative block.
Stay safe.

My Happy Place

And so, it is Saturday. Or, is it? Who knows anymore?

My video today begins with a selfie of my unruly, uncut hair. When I see myself in the mirror in the morning, I get a very rude awakening. My hair looks a bit like a combination of Einstein and Beethoven. I sure miss my hair stylist!

I was able to deliver the quilts I made for my two nephews. I had dropped one off last week. This week, I picked up the second quilt from my friend who longarms for me. After binding the quilt, I was able to have a socially distant visit with my sister and nephews. It was good to see them.

Our mornings have been cool and breezy, so I have been taking advantage of this pleasure. I sit on my outside rocking chair to drink my coffee and hopefully get inspired. One morning, the blackbirds roosting in the trees were being particularly raucous. I found myself listening to the different sounds they made as they flew in and out of the trees. The blackbirds seemed pretty territorial and there were some mad dash attacks on the mourning doves and sparrows that happened to get too close. The next morning, I took my stitching bag outside with me to drink my coffee and make something. I created a fabric piece about the blackbirds. The blackbirds were pretty active again and I just totally enjoyed watching and listening. I had researched the different types of sounds they make and found it very interesting.

Today, I received an email from one of the condominiums in Port Aransas, Texas. The email stated that the beaches at Port A are closed to visitors, but Port A will be ready to welcome us back as soon as they can. At first, a feeling of sadness washed over me. Port A has been the host of many family outings. There are so many precious memories of time spent there with my sons and grandchildren. I have always thought of Port A as My Happy Place. So, I decided to make a fabric art piece of this very special place.

To make the piece, I cut a 10″ square of muslin and backed it with firm interfacing. I then used fabric with a cloud design and glued it to the top part of the square. I had some leftover “wavy” blue fabric from a yellow ducky quilt I made for my grandson. I cut it with a scalloped bottom and a curvy, horizon top. I had some textured beige linen type fabric that I used for the sand. I covered the sand with a white tulle piece. I added some layers of the sand on top of the tulle, then thread sketched the sand. I also thread sketched the waves and quilted the clouds. I took a separate piece of muslin and drew a back-view selfie. I then added fabric to create the hair, a hat, and a beach dress. I thread sketched and outlined the selfie and cut it out as an applique. I also drew two seagulls and prepared them to applique. I decided to quilt this block and bind it.
I now have My Happy Place hanging in my sewing room. Hopefully, my family and I can visit Port A once again.

Stay safe.

Today’s Art: March 31, 2020

Trying to find a silver lining in each day.
Daily art projects.
I found this tutorial on Youtube by Handiworks.
Allergies have put a halt to my walks.
So, I have to embroider flowers instead of seeing them up close.
My mother always tried me to get interested in embroidery.
She created beautiful embroidery art.
I tried it a few times and never got into it.
Now, I find it to be a soothing way to pass the time.
I still have a lot to learn.
The back of the embroidered pieces my mother created were clean and perfect.
I am definitely not there…but I’ll keep working on it.
Hope you are doing well.

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March 30, 2020

Beginning another week of isolation. My Meemaw friends and I are trying to set up some type of chat time, probably with Zoom.
This morning, I made an interactive lesson board for my grandson usingΒ Thinglink . This is an online tool that allows you to post interactive activities on one board. I used this when I was teaching and I thought it might be helpful to make one for my grandson. I based it on the curriculum calendar that his teacher provided. I found reading, math, science, and creative activities on Youtube and added the links to the Thinglink board I set up. Thinglink is a very easy tool to use, and the link above is a short tutorial on how to make one. I thought sharing this information might help some of you who want to connect with your grandchildren or others.

I also worked on today’s art. I pulled out more tiny scraps to play with and collage a piece. I already had leftover fabric and batting from a quilt, so I used that for the main block. The birdie came out a bit hefty in this piece.

Today’s Art March 28-29

Thanks to technology, I have had a great day. I was able to have a Zoom chat with my three siblings. My brother in Seattle, younger sister in Austin, and my older sister here in San Antonio. Lots of laughing.
This past Friday, my calendar reminded me that I was supposed to be in Round Rock for Grammy time starting this weekend and throughout all next week. Since that cannot be, the next best thing was being able to Zoom chat with my granddaughter. We challenged each other to learn a new fact to share each time we chat. We also get to draw together. Then, I was able to Facetime with my grandson.
After some morning exercise, I find myself looking through scraps to see what I can make. Yesterday, I made a fabric collage art piece that was inspired by a photo my sister, Emma, sent me. It was a photo of a butterfly in the midst of Emma’s lantana. I have a box of tiny scraps that were just perfect for this. I just cut, pasted, and basted the fabric onto a quilt sandwich block. I added embroidery stitches for some texture.
For today’s art, I made a simple heart with stitching.
Just doing my best to stay positive.
Hope all of you are doing well.

Embroidered Jewelry

I went through a few days of making thread sketch inchies, twinchies, and rinches. For some of these inchies, I added a clasp on the back to make a small brooch. I researched different ways to use the inchies for making jewelry. Back before this virus, on one of my shopping trips, I looked for different pendants. I could not find anything that readily fit what I had already made, either in shops or on Amazon. I particularly wanted to make a pendent out of the owl inchie I had thread sketched for my granddaughter. I contacted my friend, Nancy, because she is a great resource for ideas, websites, and just about everything. She told me about Heather Bailey. I purchased the tiny stitches embroidered jewelry kit.Β The kit included different transfers, cloth, embroidery thread, needle, hoop, and two pendant necklaces. I chose the owl transfer and made the pendant today.
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Social Distancing

Instead of going birding with my friends today, I spent the day practicing social distancing. I listened to the latest updates of the Coronavirus.Β  The city of San Antonio has been proactive and on target since the onset of this situation. I have confidence in our city leaders.
I checked in on the CDC website and found an image of the Coronavirus. I was struck by the color, design, and dimensions of the virus. In order for me to get a handle on how this situation makes me feel,Β  I decided to embroider the image of the virus based on the photo from the CDC website. The site even has a download of a sticker or button of the virus image. I found the process of planning, embroidering and making a simple quilted block helped me to put things in perspective. Embroidery is very soothing for me. It also gave me the chance to practice making French Knots and Bullion stitches.

We will get through this.
Take care.

Embroidery Art

Since I am in my last week of being home bound, I have been trying to pass the time by trying out embroidery. My Tia Isidra used to embroider beautiful pieces. I especially liked the table cloths she embroidered for my mother. Her embroidery stitches were perfect, both on the front and the back of the piece. My mom also created some beautiful embroidery pieces.
I am thinking of embroidering and thread sketching small pieces and maybe eventually stitching them into a wall hanging or small art quilt. One of the pieces I stitched was inspired by a card that my daughter-in-law sent me. The card had a vase with dainty flowers. I used fabric to make the vase, and then embroidered the flowers.
The other piece I embroidered was that of a Lesser Goldfinch. My friends and I keep a list of birds that we see on our walks or birding trips. I am thinking of drawing and embroidering the different new birds that I see this year.
The third piece I embroidered was inspired by my mom. This week marks the fourth year of her passing.Β  My siblings and I shared some special memories that day. I drew a Robin and embroidered it. Mom used to sing the song, When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’, so I thought it would be fun to try to make one. I used some of the buttons from mom’s button jar for the flowers.

One of the Meemaws shared a free scrappy rectangle pattern. We are planning to pool our scraps and make one for ourselves. I cut quite a few scraps from my bin, and we will start working on this in the spring. In the meantime, I started working on one of the suggestions provided in the pattern. Instead of using random scraps,this scrappy quilt can be made from 18 different fabrics of at least a half yard of each. I have a bin that has some half yard and fat quarter pieces leftover from other projects. I started cutting (1620 pieces) and piecing a quilt for one of my nephews. The color palette for these pieces is mainly blue, orange, brown, beige, and green. I thought it would be perfect for my nephew. I’ve pieced 8 out of 90 blocks, so I have some work to do.

02-02-2020

Enjoy the satisfaction that comes from doing little things well.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been sidelined for a bit. I have one more week of being restricted to staying indoors and off my feet. This is driving me a bit nuts, so I concentrated on doing small things as I rest on my recliner. I have concentrated on hand-stitching, small art, and embroidery. I have cheated a bit, by going to my sewing machine for some thread sketching.
I have been wanting to try Sashiko. A few weeks ago, I found some Sashiko templates. I already had the needles and thimble. After tracing the templates on some denim scraps, I stitched the two different patterns. This is going to take more practice, but I like the process.
Another small project was upcycling a scrappy block that I had in my scrappy bin. I added a black border, then hand-quilted the block. White scraps were used to make a daisy flower that I stitched onto the center.
The 365 Button and Stitch project is still in progress, even though I am still not too happy with it. The other embroidery hoop art project, on which I am working, is more fun. I added a flamingo, elephant, sun, and star to this project. I love the challenge of drawing in a small space with embroidery thread.


The other small project I have become obsessed with is making fabric inchies. Again, the challenge of staying within one inch is so much fun. Today was day two of inchies. I cut two strips of 3″ x 10″ muslin to make a quilt sandwich. I centered and traced a one inch square template onto the muslin. Then I thread sketched birds, faces, and Sponge Bob. After the thread sketching was completed, I added a black backing. Next, I sewed along the sides of the square to make a one inch square. Pinking shears were used to cut the four sides close to the one inch thread border. At first, I was thinking of sewing these inchies onto muslin and making a fabric book. But, from what I read, inchies are used as trading cards or items to share and gift. Mariss, from Fabrication, suggested a box. I had the perfect box for these. My youngest son is very artistic and good with wood work. He made me a box with a drawer made from a 4″x4″ block of cedar. I had been using it to hold jewelry, but it is perfect for holding the inchies.

I am trying to make the best of this down time. Taking this time to stop and think, has helped me appreciate the small things.

Friday

This new year, I am finding that I am not as organized as I would like to be. I have a rough idea of projects and things I want to do; but nothing is set in stone. I still have not figured out what to do about the problem I am having with no more space for photos on my blog. Tierney sent me the link where she explains her photo management. Thanks, Tierney! The problem is how to change the situation as it stands now. I had already upgraded once, but I took up all the space with those unedited photos. I have to consult with my sons to see what, if anything, can be done.

One of my interests for this year is to learn embroidery stitches. Two of the local quilt shops I visit are each having Sue Spargo embroidery classes, but it seems I can never make it to any of the classes. I am trying out new stitches on my own and making small art pieces. One of the pieces I embroidered was a selfie for 2020. The other piece was a combination of techniques. I drew a bird on muslin, and used water color pencils to add color. I sewed some burlap onto a leftover floral charm fabric. Then I added a silk backing. I am also working on another piece where I embroidered the dove, tree, heart, and butterfly that I drew on some linen blend. I am liking this project better than the 365 Day Button and Embroidery project that I started. In this project, a button and or stitches is added on each day of the year.

My Meemaw friends and I had a Wabi-Sabi day, last Sunday. Three of us decided to use these Wabi-Sabi days to work on new quilts. The fourth buddy is helping with whatever needs to be done. Since I had just returned from out-of-town, I did not have anything ready for the quilt I was planning. Instead, I helped my friend cut and get ready to piece her first quilt. This past Monday, I visited Las Colchas to get the fabric for my next quilt. The shop has a great selection of Tex-Mex prints. I have been wanting to make a quilt to celebrate my family culture and heritage. I chose a pattern from the book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking by Jane Brocket. The book was loaned to me by one of the Meemaws. She recommended one of the quilt patterns that she had chosen from this book to make a quilt for herself. She thought that the pattern would showcase the vibrant color and design of the Tex-Mex fabric, and I totally agree. I pieced the backing for this quilt, using a fabric which features milagros.

I am also working on a Minecraft quilt. The free pattern is by Kelli Fannin. In November, I had pieced the top three rows, and the bottom two rows. When I went to attach the two parts, I realized I was off. The bottom piece was wider than the top. After fooling with it a bit, I threw it in the This-Is-Driving-Me-Crazy bin. I pulled it out this past Tuesday, and took it to the Mesquite Bean. The helpful people at this shop gave me some suggestions that would require minimal rip and sew. Thanks to these friends, I was able to piece the top together today. Kelli Fannin created a dragon block for the backing. I plan to try this out tomorrow.
Note: Phyllis, if you are reading this blog, this quilt is a secret!

Last week, while in Round Rock, I went on a birding walk around the lake where one of my sons lives. It was my first birding walk for the year. Then, this Wednesday, the Meemaws went on a birding walk by the river in the King William area of San Antonio. So far, I have seen 21 different species of birds this year. Bird watching is so exciting!

*In the video, the linen blend that I used for the embroidery projects, shows an exaggerated version of the fabric. The fabric is really not that grainy.