Friday, November 17, 2017

5 Facts You Didn't know about Sewing With Nancy for Off the Wall Friday

Nancy Zieman, 1937-2017
This week we lost the host of Sewing with Nancy, Nancy Zieman to cancer.  Nancy was fundamental to my fascination with all things sewing since I started watching her show in high school and continued on to this day.  Even though at first I didn't sew, I loved watching Nancy with her easy going, peaceful approach to the craft.   Sew in honor to her, here are some interesting facts you might not have know about her.

Facts You Didn't Know About Sewing With Nancy Zieman
    1.  Sewing with Nancy first broadcasted in 1982 and was the longest running sewing television program of its kind (Over 800 episodes ).  The early episodes were filmed in her own home living room and broadcast on local cable tv.Nancy was much more than the Saturday morning sewing guru. 
2. She authored over 40 books (including an autobiography), designed notions for Clover Needlecraft Inc, designed a line of fabric and sewing patterns, authored an interactive blog, and founded Nancy's Notion catalog (which was always my go-to place to find the hard to find notions I wanted).
    3.  In 2001, she was the first elected member to the Sewing Hall of Fame (didn't know there was a Sewing Hall of Fame??  Me, either!!  
    4.  Nancy's face was partially paralyzed by Bell's Palsy which she developed due to an ear infection as a toddler.   She was always open about the condition and talked about it on her show. 
    5. Charity Projects were a heart felt passion with Nancy.  Not only did her and her husband Richard give quietly through the years, she also inspired others to give with her blog's page - Sew To Give where you can find several organizations to sew for.  Nancy often said, "The Gift is in the Giving". 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Craft VS Art - Off the Wall Friday

So I did manage to break out of my creative funk this week.  How?? Craftsy's Amish Medallion  Block of the Month.  I bought the kit on  a whim earlier this year.  I mean, gosh it was a really cute quilt with its traditional roots and neon colors and I thought it looked fun.  Plus you can't beat the price $77 which included all the fabric, pattern AND online class for this 90" by 90" quilt.  But it sat in the box in the corner until I decided enough is enough, I feel like having fun.  For once I thought I would give up control, follow someone else's pattern and just enjoy the feel of the fabric in my hands.  AND I'm loving it.  The directions are clear, the online class gets you over any rough patches and its coming nice and pretty. 

 I love block of the month quilts because usually they offer a new skill each month and I've been wanting to tighten up my traditional quilt making skills anyways.  PLUS it will be a nice quilt to get on my frame for the long winter ahead.

Still it brought to mind the  debate of Craft VS Art.  I mean, really am I a crafting quilter or an artist whose medium is fabric. And really what is Craft?  What is Art?

  • structured, definite form
  • duplicatable  forms 
  • born from the mind and practical need 
  • uses distinct practiced skill sets
  • appeals to viewer on a practical level
Mary Stori's Perfect  Your Hand Quilting
  • Unstructured and open ended
  • No definite form,
  • Based in emotion and a need for expression
  • uses innate and learned skills
  • appeals to the viewer on an emotional level

Just by looking at the characteristics of both you can see where quilts and quilters find themselves in the grey world between the two.  Quilts are practical and structured.  They are also pieces that are born on emotions and can speak to the viewer on a very visceral level.
So I thought for a long while now I've been exploring the emotional artist side of my quilting.  I thought it time to get back to the very practical side and practice the craft of it.  One could debate this until the last stitch is set.  But honestly, I'm just thankful that I've found a passion for a creative form that has the best of both world - the Art and the Craft.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Creativity Exercises - Off the Wall Friday

The days get shorter and darker and it seems like a cloud descends on me.  Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer once suggested to me that since I'm half Sicilian, its in my blood to seek the sun.  I'm not sure if she's right but I do get blue when the sky gets grey!  I've even had a little extra time on my hands lately and have I done something creative?  NO!  I'd rather sit and listen to the Harry Potter series on my Echo Dot!  Again!

So I thought I would come up with a list of Creativity Exercises that I could do when I needed a little shove nudge out of this descent of the dark day doldrums.  (See obviously this funk doesn't extend into my fascination with  annoying alliterations) . On that note I thought I would share what I came up with!!

A Collection of Cool Calisthenics for the Creatively Challenged
Squint Your Eyes - See the Values
  • Value Studies - Pick an inspirational picture from your collection.  Squint your eyes seeing the blobs of values.  Make a quick sketch coloring it in grey scale.
  •  Cut Ups/Glue Back - Take an interesting magazine picture.  Cut it up into big hunks.  Glue it back quickly together in a totally new composition.  Hang on design wall.  Repeat with a new one.
  • Draw A Sharpie Squiggle - With a regular pencil finish off the squiggle (or curve) into full fledged picture or composition.
  • Tackle Youtube - Watch an artist creating in an alternative medium or listen to a Ted Talk on Creativity.
  • Doodle - Use doodling to explore Line and texture.  Try different styles.  Try not lifting your pen.  Try not to self edit.
  • Go For A Walk - Take a familiar Path but this time really look closely at things around you.  See the beauty of where you live and explore the interesting compositions that you walk by everyday.  Take a camera to capture it.  
  • Play with PicMonkey - Pick a photo and just start playing with it- Crop it - Add Filters - Add Text  etc. etc.
  • Crank Up the Music - Now just draw, paint, fuse down what the music is saying to you without you thinking about it too much
  • Quote It - Take a favorite quote - Decorate it anyway you want - color, collage, etc  - send it to a friend
  • Analyses Art - dust off the art books you have and really look at what makes great art great.  Pick out focal points, name compositions, look at palettes 

So these are some off the top of my head.  DO YOU HAVE ANY?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Off the Wall Friday

Friday, October 20, 2017

6 Ways to Pick a Palette - Off the Wall Friday

This week, my friend Debby and I were talking about how to pick a palette.  As I started going through my quilts over the last couple of years, you could see where I've somehow fallen in love with this Warm, Warm, Cool kind of thing.. . . . Like I would pick Red, Orange, and a touch of blue.  You can see it over and over and over.  Now I didn't do it consciously, its kinda like - the heart wants what
the heart wants.

The Old Guitarist, Pablo Picasso
First of all what is a Palette?  Its the colors you pick to be in your piece.  I would highly suggest picking  3 or 4 and a neutral.  Limiting your palette is an easy way to make your piece stronger.   Now that doesn't mean you have to stick with just 3 or 4 hues. You can pick any tones, shades or tints within those colors.  For example, if you chose green - you can add any variation of that green in your piece and it still qualifies as one color.  

How to Pick A Palette

1Choose the Emotion.  First decide what emotion you want to evoke with  your piece and then decide what palette.  Reds - Anger, Aggression, Passion.  Blue - Serenity, loneliness.  Yellow  - Happy, Excited.  You get the idea

2. Pick what you Like.  I'm thinking this is the trap I've fallen into lately.  When starting a project I look at my fabric and just say - hey I like these reds and then I grab my color wheel and pick the colors that I like from there.  Its easy to work with colors you like and therefore that much easier to get the project done.

3.  Choose an Inspiration.  Another great way I've chosen palettes is just peruse other's art and see what really speaks to me.   I've done that before as a way to get out of my own rut of picking palettes I like (see #2). 

4.  Choose the Unexpected.  So you want to do a landscape.  Does that mean you need to stick to blues, greens, browns with a hint of yellow?  NO.  I mean if you were taking a photo yes.  But you are an artist with a full range of colors in front of you.  Choose something unexpected that will convey what you want to say about the piece.

5.  Use a Color Board.  My daughter does this.  When she's writing a new story or novel, she will collect pictures that kind of evoke the emotion, color, the  basic ascetic  of what she wants to write.  Because she is child of the internet, she uses Pinterest to collect them.  I too have a color board on Pinterest but never one with several ideas all for the same piece.  I really do need to try it sometime!

6.  Use an Online Palette Generator.  I've talked about these pick a photo you like and the program takes the colors from there so you can match them to your fabric.  And then there is Design Seeds where they do all the work for you - choosing the photos and creating the palette.

So How Do You Create a Palette?

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Singer Continues - Off the Wall Friday

Little by little, I've managed to work through this project.   You know how some pieces come easy and some come hard?  Well, yeah, I've been dealing with the latter with this one.

Problem 1.  Coming up with a decent idea.  Since I have been whining about that for the last two weeks we do NOT have to rehash that here.  But, to my credit, I didn't call uncle, and I did manage to come up with a good one!

Problem 2. Getting a decent pattern.  Normally, when I work from a photo, I like to make a trace of the most important lines, adjust the lines to my liking, and use an overhead projector to blow it up to a master pattern.  This having to be a perfect 10" I couldn't do that.  Not to mention, my photo inspiration did not lend itself to an easy trace.  So what I ended up doing, was using the online site, PicMonkey's Effect, Edge Sketch and it came up with something a lot easier to trace.  Then my husband used his pattern software to get it to the right size for me (he was sweet and didn't mention that this was the second time he had done this for me for the same project!)

Problem 3:  Working out the values.  Now you'd think that after 25 years of quilting, I could easily get the values right in a piece the first time, right?  Well, heck No!!  I ended up doing at least three different versions of the the machine before I was happy with it.

Just one of the versions that obviously wasn't working

Problem 4: This is what I call "The Break-up".  You know how when you love a picture and you think  - WOW!  I can make that in fabric and it will look AMAZING!  -- buttttt - then you start doing your rendering and it doesn't look anything like the photo and you think you  suck and you just want to toss it?  No???? Then you're lucky because it happens to me all the time!  I've learned that  somewhere along this creative journey, you need to just kiss that original picture in your head good-bye , make a clean break and go with where your new vision is actually taking you.  Because let's be honest, if we wanted our pieces to all turn out like real life photos - we would all become photographers and this blog would be about something totally different.  So I had to give myself permission to break up with the master pattern and work out the finishing touches on my own.

This is the last photo of it and I'll have it done tomorrow.  I'm happy  with where its going though and I'm glad I didn't give up on it!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively? 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Square - Off the Wall Friday

And the 10" by 10" square  saga continues.  But  after a couple of false starts, I finally came up with a good idea.  This morning.  At 7 amRight, just a couple hours before work.  #somylife

How did I  come up the idea?  Well, the thing about this design is that the square is going to be auctioned off at the Schweinfurth Art Center's 10 x 10 = Art.  So I thought not only does it have to have a decent design BUT it has to capture the interest of the bidder.  That got me thinking.  What would I like to buy at an event like this??? What would make me stop and say, "Oh, I like that".  The light bulb went off and my latest obsession on Pinterest popped in my head, Vintage Sewing Machines and Notions.

With just an hour or so before work, I took my normal route from idea to quilt and picked a picture.   Then it was time to play with different crops.  After a bunch of trials I settled on a nice simple one bringing the word Singer as the focal point.
One of the Trial Crops
With the final crop chosen, then I started thinking about the mood I wanted to create with it and played with some of the special effects in my photo editor.  I also changed the settings of the photo so that it could be easily traced.  I wanted to go on but  - alas - work was calling (literally since I work on the phone all day - grin)

After work, my husband Paul helped me out by using a drafting program that makes my picture exactly 10" by 10" and printed it out on a couple of 8" by 11" sheets of paper that could be tapped together.  Now its ready for me to trace the pattern and start finally getting this square done!   I decided that I probably will fuse it to give it a nice neat finish lines.

Finally  - a good idea - that I can't wait to finish!!

So what have you been up to creatively?