Category Archives: Creativity

The Long Road

I came across this quote from David Foster Wallace a couple of days ago and decided to make a graphic out of it. Found a beautiful photo of a road disappearing into the distance (one of my FAVORITE visual themes) and put them together. The quote seems especially poignant in light of his suicide.

The Truth David Foster Wallace“The truth will set you free. But only after it is finished with you.”  — David Foster Wallace

The Big Summer Project

Speakers 9 2013

What are these? you maybe asking yourself. No, they aren’t canoes. They aren’t coffins. (Although they are nearly big enough to hold a fairly small person.) They are the kind of obsessive project that results when you go to a friend’s for a disco party and see that he has a really cool D.J. sound board right there in his living room, plus a HUGE set of speakers that can blast all of his guests into the next county, and you decide you really need something like that for your home theater, because the many speakers you already have just aren’t LOUD ENOUGH.

This starts you off on months of intensive work. It’s challenging and sometimes frustrating, especially since your speakers aren’t just dull rectangular boxes. They have curved sides, which makes them much harder to build but also more interesting to work on and to look at.

The work is almost over now. The shaping and cutting and drilling and sanding are through. The paint has gone on and pretty soon it will be time to see how they actually sound.

Crafting Trend Report

A lot of crafting has been going on in the secret depths of Sunny’s room. She’s what I’d call a serial crafter: she gets obsessed with one kind of project, like making cute little bows. She retreats into her crafting dungeon and makes dozens and dozens of the latest craze. Then poof! it’s over, and she’s on to the next thing.

After the bow phase came to a crashing halt, she made a whole lot of cute little stuffed animals. Ten points if you can name the model for the stuffed animal in the photo.

Now she has raided my yarn bin and is methodically using up all the small balls of yarn I’ve picked up at the thrift shop over the last few years. Here’s the result:

Sunny Scarves 2 2013I am currently wearing the blue-and-yellow scarf, but I think the others are available.


Charming Curtain of Ribbons

My friend Mary made me this ribbon curtain for Christmas, and my husband helped me put it up last week. I love the way the ribbons let in the light but obscure the (ugly) view in front of our house. From certain angles, the view out that window features our garbage cans and our neighbor’s stunningly bland beige stucco house. Now I see bright colors and patterns instead.

I thought the ribbons might scare our parakeet Pickle, who lives right beneath them. But Pickle is a great lover of bells and shiny things, and every ribbon has either a bell or a shiny thing dangling from it, so he seems quite satisfied with his new landscape. 

Thanks for my new curtain, Mary!

The Joint Design Project

This week I spent several days working on a quilt to be sold at a fundraiser next weekend at Basketball Girl’s high school. I had cut out all the fabric and stitched up dozens of blocks. Now I was ready to lay them out into the final quilt.

Winging it being my main creative strategy (in fact, my main strategy in almost any situation), I had made a bunch of  blocks without deciding ahead of time exactly how I would use them. This time I had been more organized than usual: I was proud that I had made exactly the number of blocks I knew I needed. Sometimes I just sew a pile of blocks first, then decide how many I will need.

I took the quilt blocks into the living room to arrange them on the rug. I wanted to make a grid that was eight blocks tall by six blocks wide. I had laid down a few blocks when my husband came in.

He stood watching while I put down a couple more blocks, then frowned. “I don’t think a random arrangement is as good as something more structured.”

I had a block in my hand. I was about to put it down on the floor, but I stopped. “Oh?”

“Think about it. It’s a Catholic school. The people there would like something with more order to it.” He came over and took the block from my hand. “Do you mind?”

“No, no! I love criticism of my deeply felt creative efforts helpful feedback. Be my guest.”

Before I knew it, he had picked up all the blocks I had laid down, counted how many I had of each one, rearranged all my piles, and laid out the whole quilt. And here it is, exactly as he specified. I think it looks great.Pinwheel Quilt Red Black White Large

Cute Creature of Christmas

Sunny painted and then laboriously hand stitched details on this octopus for a Christmas gift exchange, which she didn’t even get to go to because she was in too much pain from having her wisdom teeth removed.  Now she is feeling better and working hard at making little stuffed animals out of my scrap fabric. I figure she’ll work her way through my scrap bin in about a thousand years.

It’s  been fun to share my studio with the girls. Sunny uses it to make all kinds of things. Basketball Girl uses it because the only TV in the house is there, and she does her nightly beauty regimen while watching TV on my couch. They are both good sports about putting up with the noise of my sewing machine while they try to do something else. Family togetherness means putting up with each other’s noisy appliances.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

And Marcus has chosen a new favorite place to hang out, on the corner of the sheet we put on the floor under the Christmas tree. I’m not sure if he’s waiting to get a Christmas present or whether he considers himself to be a Christmas present. Probably both.

I’m having to fight Sunny for possession of my cutting table. I don’t know how many of these bows she made before she declared herself finished and moved on to hand-stitching decorative details on shirts she bought at the thrift store. As for me, I am making lots and lots of fabric gift bags, baking cookies, stringing Christmas lights, and wrestling with an update of my blogs.Sunny Xmas 2012 Thumbnail

I’m delaying the dreaded moment when I have to take my chilled sugar cookie dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out into a flat sheet to be cut into shapes with cookie cutters. This never goes well for me.  I’m not great with pie crusts, either.

Basketball Girl and I went to the grocery store to get sprinkles for the cookies and had to force ourselves not to buy the sprinkles in the shape of little white bones, which might not create the right effect on our tree-shaped cookies. I removed the giant black Halloween spider that was still hanging outside our front window. But it didn’t go far. It is now crouching cheerily on the ground by the front door, next to the last of our miniature Halloween pumpkins, because why put away a decoration when you can press it into service for the next holiday? Every house needs a Black Widow Spider of Christmas.

Great Moments in Christmas Crafting

My friend Leticia gave me some cheery animal fabric she found at a yard sale, and I decided to use it as part of my annual gift bag-making extravaganza. I must have been more careless than usual when I cut the fabric, because I ended up making two gift bags that prominently feature animal rear ends. There’s the right-side-up version:

And even the upside-down version, in which the animal seems to be lying with its legs up in the air like the back half of a carcass (how festive!):

Talk about some really special gift wrapping! I was almost embarrassed until I realized that this could be the start of a whole new, hostile Christmas tradition.

“You’ve been very naughty this year, so you get your lump of coal in the ANIMAL’S REAR END bag!” (The actual words might be a bit ruder, but this is a family blog.)

Goodbye to Purple

Here it is — the very last of the many quilts I’ve made from the purple squares I bought way back when I first started quilting. Using up my old fabric is part of the concerted effort I’m making to give my sewing room that empty, Zen feeling I always admire so much in someone else’s house. This is surprisingly hard to achieve.  For a serial project-starter like me, it’s probably impossible. But we can dream, can’t we?

I love purple, but it’s time for a change.


More Adventures with Fabric Stiffener

The first time I ever tried [amazon_link id=”B00178QQ02″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]fabric stiffener[/amazon_link], I used it to make these fabric snowflakes rigid enough so I could hang them in a garland in the window for Christmas.

The garland was a big success (well, I liked it, anyway.)  

Now I’ve put my bottle of Aleene’s stiffener to work on a related project: turning vintage crocheted doilies into hangable “snowflakes.” The thrift store always has lots of doilies like these. They break my heart because they were obviously made with so much love and so many tiny stitches that must have taken so much time, and now they’re for sale for ninety-nine cents on a rack next to the bathrooms.

I’m not sure what doilies were used for in the good old days, but people don’t seem to have much use for them today. I hate to see something  beautiful and handmade go to waste, so I tried the fabric stiffener on these two doilies which had been taking up space in my sewing room for — oh, years!

It worked beautifully! I hung them both in the window and they looked great — not like snowflakes, exactly, but beautiful anyway.

Now I have one daughter who loves these and wants me to do some more so she can hang them up in her room, and one daughter who thinks I’m out of my mind for taking an interest in such crappy old junk.

Quilting, Not Hoarding

Here’s what I’ve been doing in my quilting room:

These purple squares have been lying around ever since I made my very first quilt, a very, very long time ago,  and after watching about 20 episodes in a row of  TV shows about hoarding, in which many hoarders come to very bad ends, I’ve realized that these purple squares (and a lot of other stuff) HAVE. TO. GO.

So I’m making these squares into a purple quilt. Never mind that hoarders always have grand plans for all the stuff they have piled all over everything. My plans are really going to happen! They are happening right now!

Not that I’m worried about being a hoarder. (No! Of course I’m not a hoarder!) But I do have more fabric than I can fit in my sewing room in any organized fashion. And since my sewing room used to be a pretty spacious two-car garage, that is a somewhat sobering thought. So I’m making a super-extra-double-serious commitment to using up my fabric without buying anything new until I don’t have any piles left. Unless I see something I really HAVE to have.

I’m also making this braid quilt in the same “use it up” mood. I have carefully edited this photo to crop out all the various piles of different things that are heaped on or behind my sewing table. Because if you can’t see them in the photo, they don’t exist.


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