June 8, 2017

Just give me chardonnay and a bendy straw

For a while, I wrestled with trying to find time to be creative when I was juggling a full-time job and parenting.  Then I gave up the job so that I could pursue my creativity drive, and it took a nap.  Then I became an almost-empty-nester when my older child married, and the younger of the two in college and only home for summers and the holidays.

Not any more.  The newlywed was recruited to her dream job close to our home that came with an impossible commute from her own, so she moved back home Sunday through Friday.  Now her husband is also job hunting in this area, so they are now both here full time.  Then the one that graduated from college is still in Asia (sending the most terrifying photos of spiders bigger than his hand that were on the roof of their "room" for a night or two), scheduled to return in a few weeks in time to start the hunt for his first full-time job post college.  His significant other was displaced and is working full-time and living with us, also saving toward their getting their own place post college.  It's nice to have company other than the cats, and I've actually been good about forcing myself to stop with chores to get into the studio most days.

To make sure that things remain interesting and never boring around here,  we are about to embark on a full kitchen gut and remodel, so my studio/laundry room will become a temporary kitchen for the next 3-4 months, and a lot of my art supplies are getting packed away and moved into the garage.  The library will become the family room, part of our upstairs will become the office and the family room & kitchen will become a war zone for a while.  The project is starting sooner than I was initially advised, so I am NOT prepared to cook in the temporary space unless we are having microwaved popcorn for dinner.  And chardonnay.  That doesn't need any heat ;-)  Just a straw.

It is hard enough to be creative when everything is going smoothly, so these next few months are really going to be a test of my commitment to keep at it.  I won't have an oven for working with polymer clay, so maybe this is the time to experiment with paper clay again.  I can always solder (and heaven knows, based on my recent results, that I really, really need to practice), sew and work out ideas for new projects.  Even in the midst of construction, I want to push myself to do something creative, make something, every day.  And then celebrate my accomplishment with chardonnay :-)

March 3, 2017

Art and math do not mix

I have to start this off by stressing I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom whose kids are now grown (though one is home after college graduation and trip meant to kill ME to Asia for a month, but that's another panic attack story), so I do the old fashioned job of keeping the house Monday through Friday.  Unsolicited, my husband, who works an executive job about 11 hours a day, often two weeks straight if traveling, kicks in before I even get up on the weekends AND he cooks on the weekends.  Seriously cooks.  So my "chores versus creative time" is a mess of my own doing.  Some things never change.  The cats keep using the litter boxes that I have to scoop.  Dinner doesn't take long to cook, but it always means making a mess that I have to clean up.  Repairs around the house need to be managed, and it's my responsibility since I'm home.  The problem is that with a big house and constant chores, it's really, really easy to get out of the habit of doing anything creative.  What a shock to see how long it had been since I posted to my blog.  It isn't that I expect anyone to read it - it's all about catharsis for me - but still!  The lack of activity here is a testament to the lack of activity in my litter-boxy studio.  Time for a new plan of action!

Today I put "studio" time on my calendar, actually treating it as if I were having a meeting (like in the oooold days when I wore a suit and had an office and business cards).  If I put more of what I need to do on the calendar, it will give me more direction for the day, plotting chores time, errands time, and make a mess time.  Today was more about making a mess.

Husband Harold has always liked my quilts and actually looks forward to attending events like the Road to California show every year with real enthusiasm.  He also really loves the same modern prints and bright colours that I do, so he was very happy when I handed him my copy of Kaffe Fasset's "Country Garden Quilts" and ask him which one (that didn't have any curves!) he would like me to make for him.  I should have torn out pages 28 & 29 first.  O.M.G.

This quilt is made up of a million pinwheels, which means a zillion triangles have to be cut from dozens of fabrics, then reassembled in as close to perfect stupid little squares as possible.  Four of those stupid little squares made of two triangles get assembled into one larger square and you have to hope and pray every stitch is straight and the squares are actually square.  Curse pages 28 & 29!  The instructions are NOT for the faint of heart, for the person who needed a tutor for math in 7th grade when we had to do math using dreaded fractions.  I can do it now, but trying to do it with questionable instructions to begin with, boggling my mind, resulted in a lot of mistakes and the usage of all of the bad words that I know.  And I have used them all with gusto.

This is what the stupid quilt is supposed to look like.

The instructions are a little confusing.  I can build furniture from Ikea in the blink of an eye, so you KNOW these instructions had to be a little wonky.  The directions for cutting fabric didn't make a lot of sense and are contradictory to most of what is taught in quilting class that I could find on my beloved YouTube or other web sites.  All I wanted to know to begin was what the heck size fabric square do I need to start with to end up with a pinwheel of a specific size.  This is what I had to do to get an answer to that question (and then I add extra to compensate for waggles in cutting).

I drew pictures.  I cut out practice pieces using scrap fabric and assembled them to experiment with size.  Then I found the Missouri Quilt Company website and video that explained how to do the math you see on this notebook page.  None of that helps with simple counting, though, as is demonstrated by this pile of useless pieces that are the extras because I'm soooooo good at counting.  

My charming husband asked, "Can't you just use these for another quilt?"  And I asked, "Do you think I'm insane enough to make TWO quilts made up of a zillion triangles put back together to make one big piece of fabric?!?"

I think tomorrow I'll paint something.  Maybe I'll make some more of my calling cards.  I don't use as many bad words.  Then I'm going to send all of my extra triangles to my sister as a surprise gift to add to her stash.  Good luck, Lisa!  xox