Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Blog - Cloth & Creativity

Cloth & Creativity

It's taken me a lot longer to get this new blog together than I'd hoped and - in the end - I reverted back to what was familiar for the time being so I wouldn't give up or get too far behind. I hope you'll join me at my new location.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new blog up and going

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

An Announcement And An Invitation

Before leaving for the Design Outside the Lines retreat, I worked on what I called The Outfit Project. This project was one way for me to fully lean into the experience of the workshop, enjoying it on a new level by completing one - both emotionally and physically comfortable - outfit for each day complete with accessories.

In the past, I've worked on other long-term projects like The Year of Play and The Handbag Project and have always enjoyed the way the open boundaries of the subject matter led to deeper creativity. The first retreat I attended was in 2012 and in the time since, I've been exploring clothing and creativity in ever changing ways. I never want that to get stale. I always want to enjoy fabric, to enjoy creating, and togrow more.


All but two of the retreats I've attended have been held in Ashland, Oregon. Along with Diane's inspiring creativity, the town has become a special place for me. One of my favourite activities is to just sit quietly by the lower pond in Lithia Park and think about what I'm taking home with me from experience, from the retreat. Change.

As many of you know, I journal every day and shred my journal entries. I'm not interested in holding onto whatever was poured out on those pages whether it's dumping or celebration. I'm interested in moving forward. My home is very much the same way. The decor is warm and it's also minimalist. I have few pictures or decor items and the ones I have have meaning. The space with the most ingredients is the studio and I sift, sort, clean, and clear it at least three times a year to make sure that I'm keeping the flow of creativity open by moving along what is no longer useful and making space for what is coming.

This is my third blog, fourth if you count the time in 2012 when I deleted all the previous entries and started over. That's my nature; I'm not a keeper. However while "shredding" the blog was completely consistent with my personality, it was not too popular with readers and that awareness has caused some difficulty recently. I've felt like the inability to be who I am in terms of shredding has been holding me back from a direction I want to move in. And that's the change I thought about sitting in the park by the pond.

SO... the announcement is that I'm taking a two month blogging break while I start a new blog, get the format established, and learn some new photo editing software. The new blog is started but right now I'm still figuring out themes and settings and so it's currently not open to the public. I'll post a link here when it is open which will be at the beginning of June. One of...

... the changes that will show up is less finished projects. I want to explore samples and detail ideas differently. Like taste tests. To see if I like this or that way of creating in general and this or that way of creating - like a pocket or a buttonhole - in particular. Both creatively and emotionally, I need that "out with the old and in with the new" change in order to have enough energy to continue blogging. I'm not saying that the posts at this site won't eventually be deleted but not for now.

This next project I'm working on is called The Year of 52 Weeks. At first, I wanted to create a jewelry piece a week and then I wanted to create a jewelry piece and a sewing sample a week and then I realized that instead of an open boundary, a list of must do things would be too restrictive a goal. So now it's more simple. I want to explore something new every week, make parts, and see when and where and how they might show up in either the creative clothing or the accessories that I love to make.


Ideas like these knot beads are examples of the things I might explore. I rolled the beads at my friend Sheri's while I was in Eugene and when I came home, I wrapped them with metallic thread. I like the way they look with the variegated thread and the touch of gold however...

... one of the questions I will be asking when I try something new is - is there ENOUGH here for me to be able to manage both the positive and the negative aspects of the work. Everything has a flip side. Every thing you enjoy has some aspect you don't enjoy. When I was creating textile art, I loved using intense thread work to define my pieces and I loved it enough to endure the hours and hours it took to apply.

I'm organizing the studio and this week's curious what if was to see how many parts and pieces I could make from the fuchsia dupioni silk scraps I'd saved from The Outfit Project. To start, I cut 1/2" strips that were either 20" long, 15" long, or 12" long. From the 20" strips, I rolled 54 knot buttons. Not including cutting the strips, that took an hour. Selling pieces is no where near the top of my to do list but if it was, this would be important information.

With the 12" strips, I cut them in half and rolled them around 1/2" long sections of 1/4" plastic tubing to create 156 tube beads in total. This took about four hours, again not including cutting the strips and this is only the first stage. They still need further embellishment.

Each bead is rolled and glued and since dupioni silk frays so easily, I often had threads stuck to my fingertips. I don't like glue. I don't like messy fingers. I don't messy work stations. That's far more negative than positive and what will I do with 156 fuchsia tube beads? That's another curious question but the take away is that it's unlikely I'll make tube beads in this quantity again and if so, definitely not out of dupioni silk.

That "taste test" revealed a way that I'd rather not spend my creative time unless I come up with some absolutely amazing thing to do with them that would make it worth the work. Knowing what we don't want to do is just as valuable as knowing what we do.

In the scrap pile were the two blouses I'd sewed and discarded because the fit and feel weren't right. I cut off the armhole and neck bindings. I'm trying to utilize as much of the pile as possible and zigzagging over these could make interesting tie parts or even purse handles. The knot bead on the left is rolled from the tightly woven selvage and the knot bead on the right is rolled from the opposite - less tight - selvage. This picture is much friendlier to the left one than reality. To me...

... the tightly woven beads failed to fulfill the potential of the beautiful selvage so I unrolled them and put the selvage in with my other trims. Diane refers to the bits and pieces she makes as The Parts Department. Now that mine is expanding, I'll need to learn how to organize it. I've asked her for advice.

When I retired from traditional quilt making, I took up knitting. When I retired from textile art, I learned how to sew bras and jeans, how to design and alter patterns, how to fit my body, and then... the stage I'm in now... how to sew everyday creative clothing. Each overall goal is composed of smaller ones.

The Year of 52 Weeks has within it smaller goals to explore things like welt pockets, inseam buttons, seaming details, working with resin, other forms of wire weaving, figuring out which scraps are useful and for what and which are not useful and what to do with them... and so much more... BUT... in a simple sentence... The Year of 52 Weeks is about trying one new thing each week for a year starting on my birthday in early June. I hope you'll join me both by reading the new blog, by sharing the creative conversation, and by considering a one year project of your own. What would you like to explore? How can you state that in a simple sentence? When will you start?

Talk soon - Myrna

- for all of you who share my creative journey. I appreciate you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Souveniers Of Potential

The drive back was lovely. I always enjoy that time to decompress, to think about where I'm going and what I want to do when I get back to the studio, and to transition back to my normal routine. There is still snow on my yard although less snow with patches of dirty lawn showing through and no more ice on the driveway or sidewalks. This is good. This morning, I was able to safely walk to Starbucks to journal and I should be able to continue walking through until fall now which is especially good since I was doing a fair amount of walking in Ashland.

At one of the stores, I was able to buy this raincoat at a significantly reduced price, less than I would have paid for the fabric. I like its shaping except for the collar so I'll adjust that and otherwise it's the most finished souvenier that I bought - the rest are souveniers of potential.

These three garments are from the thrift store and go together. The plan is to sew an Ashland garment using some of the refashioning skills I learned in the workshop. Right now, the three pieces are in the hot dryer following a hot wash so they will be as shrunk and processed as possible when I get to working with them.


Diagonal from the hotel is a wonderful store called Looking Glass Beads. I purchased the seed and the Czech beads there to go with the fabric beads I'd made at my friend's studio in Eugene. The gold thread came from the quilting store and the word pendant from Gathering Glass Studio as did...

... these purple and blue glass pieces that I hope to incorporate into a necklace. The beads shown at right are also from the bead store. The findings are gorgeous, different than anything I already have, but quite expensive so I didn't pick up too many of them.


At Websters - the yarn store - they had a sample knit up in this Quinoa yarn that has fabulous texture so I bought four balls as well as a pattern to make the Alee capelet which I think will look lovely with sleeveless summer clothing although I'm not sure when I'll get to sewing summer clothing since I plan to spend April finishing painting inside the house and May working on some projects in the yard although I will - of course - still be working in the studio for the morning hour.

When I travel, I typically buy books, yarn, fabric, and jewelry as souveniers although this time I bought jewelry supplies rather than a finished piece. What are your favourite souveniers?

Yesterday, I unpacked the car and my suitcases, started the laundry, and picked up a few groceries for dinner. This morning, I moved slow, journalled, walked, and put things away in the studio and now I'm ready to knit in the sunshine and decide what to do next in the studio. I think it'll be the necklace with the word pendant.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a safe and fun trip

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The After Class Begins

The workshop ended yesterday and now the after class begins - that time between this workshop and the next when I put into play all the ideas that are dancing in my head. I find the easiest way to transition back into the studio is to begin working with a take-away. This time, I have many of them - the beads I made, the concept of inseam buttonholes, and a partially refashioned garment. This is good.

Last night, I curled up on the bed with The Art of Mistakes and read it cover to cover. It wasn't new information and I hadn't expected it to be. It was reinforcement of what I've already experienced in my own studio, what I already believe. It was wonderful encouragement to go home with. The author writes...

Creativity is not just about art. Often it has nothing at all to do with art. Creativity is about how we think, the possibilities we allow into our thinking and our ability to follow through with action. In just about all we do, we can think creatively or not.

Creative thinkers, whether they're artist or not, are willing to fight conformity and are willing to take on the continuing need to reevaluate what defines conformity. They don't need a degree in anything from anywhere to do that; they just have to believe in their gut that it's what they must do. 

Christine taught us about several forms of draping including Japanese draping which is used for making a pattern that will be copied. It's a very simple system of gently moving the fabric into the shape you've pre-determined and is the method taught in Draping: Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design. I will most likely order the book at some point although I can't see myself designing patterns for mass production and I don't sew for other people. Perhaps I'll borrow it from the library first.

Free-form draping is about gently folding the fabric this way and that, creating seams and tucks, until the fabric takes on the shape of the garment you're developing. This detail is of a skirt I started using Diane's method of piecing fabric from fabric and Christine's method of draping it into a shape. I love the tucks. I'll get a better picture of the entire skirt when I'm back home.

Refashioning takes an existing garment and develops it into another garment that may or may not be the same as the starting point. These pants are becoming a skirt. There is not enough fabric in the one pair of pants so I will need to either include yardage or another garment. I'm looking for something that goes with. The long line in the back (right picture) will allow for a zipper which may be how I get in and out of this piece. That's important to keep in mind or it may never come off the mannequin.

The first project I did was to turn a skirt with a back zipper, a fitted waistband, and four godets - two front and two back - into a vest. The waistband has become the neckline and center back has become center front. Initially, I wanted sleeves using some fabric I made a couple years ago and then I opted to leave them off because I didn't want to spend the time it was going to take to get them to fit the way I wanted them to fit.

I cut the button off a sweater before leaving home and have two left for another piece. I bought several garments at the thrift store here in Ashland that go together so I can create a souvenier of my workshop and trip.

At a nearby used bookstore, I found this book - The Artist Unique - and plan to read it tonight and hopefully use it as a study guide for my journal time. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I'm finding it harder and harder to find books to study since I've done so many already.

And I might knit. And I might work on the beads. And I might watch TV. Tomorrow, I'm spending the day with a friend and on Monday I'll start heading for home.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - inspiration and good food

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Class Begins

It's Monday night and I am in that exhausted-excited state that happens when class begins. Diane is - as always - incredibly inspiring and Christine, the guest instructor, equally so. Sunday night started with an opening circle and dinner out as a group and Monday was first a power point presentation about her work by Christine and then each participant shared the "stash" they had brought to work from and picked a starting point. In the afternoon, we had a draping presentation from Christine and then began working on our individual projects. I believe mine is a skirt but it may become a dress - or something else - you never know. I don't have any pictures right now but I do have some of the drive down and of the beads I made at my friend's.


Above left is a picture I took beside the road. The river leading to the mountains with the snow dusted peaks was so beautiful. The Canada Geese were just outside my room at the hotel in Yakima. LOL - I guess they didn't want me to be lonely.

In Eugene, spring had already sprung. I took these pictures for my husband while walking around the neighbourhood. He's in Guatemala where it's already hot but we're both looking forward to spring in our own back yard when we get home.


How pretty is this? Spring is always so encouraging. My plan for April is to finish up work inside the house and then I'm looking forward to working on my front yard. I don't have any bulbs planted and even so, it will be lovely to see green shoots coming through the ground.

At Sheri's we worked on fabric beads. I do not like working with glue however, this is such a small amount and applied with a paint brush that it was okay. I began with long strips of selvage that I'd cut off of a less-than-best fabric. Rolled...


... up they were not so bad and made interesting little cones. You can see the straws inside. Supposedly - according to the instructions I was following - they'd be easy to remove. They were not. I trimmed them shorter and left them in.


The beads on the left were made from rolling strips of fabric into balls. I've done a similar method before with upholstering cording inside a bias tube only rolling is easier, faster, and wastes less fabric and if I twist the strip as I go, it creates similar ridges. I played with different widths and lengths of fabric to see how the finished product varied. It's good to make samples especially as there is a fabric factor to consider as well. Gauze-like fabric results in vastly different beads than cotton or denim. I made some gauze ones only it seems I forgot to take a  picture of them. Later.

The beads on the right where rolled over lengths of plastic tubing from the hardware store. I made some with 1" wide, 1/2" wide, and 3/8" wide fabric strips and each has a completely different look. I preferred this tubing to the straws and will leave it in the beads to form a solid core.

Millicent - my dress form - enjoyed a few moments in the driver's seat before we headed from Eugene to Ashland. There are fourteen students in the class and more than fourteen dress-forms which is rather amusing although they - the dress forms - are easily managed. The window on the right is the view from my bed in my lovely room at the hotel. I can see silhouettes as the light appears or disappears and remnants of last snow falls.

Tomorrow, I'll have my friend take the picture of my outfit from a different perspective because these are not at all flattering although they are a reminder to get with my walking program when I get home. I have never had tummy rolls like this before and I'm determined that they are leaving. The pants are already too big so I guess something is happening. It's been nice to get up in the morning and walk without fear of ice and falling. The first morning, I looked at all the old houses on the side streets around the hotel and the second morning, I walked up one side of main street and down the other since I had on new boots and wanted to preserve my feet. I'm looking forward to a longer walk in the park and to my walk to Starbucks routine when I get home.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new learning