Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE Most Expensive Dress

One of the most potent obstacles to our financial and creative prosperity is the biting emotion of jealousy. As long as we are focused on another, we do not have our own full attention. As long as we are focused obsessively on the outer trappings of someone else's financial (or creative) success, we are comparing our insides to their outsides - and that is never fair. Jealousy will always block our own prosperity - spiritual as well as financial (or creative).

When we are focused on the competition, we are avoiding an action we need to take for ourselves. When we are jealous of another, we are probably avoiding a part of ourselves. Focused on our neighbor's car, we forget to wash our own. Focused on another's publishing success, we stew in resentment instead of writing another page of our own project. We must be gentle with ourselves. We are avoiding ourselves because we are afraid. We are afraid that, even if we were to give it our all, our all won't be enough, that we're second-rate, that God's will is for us not to be as successful and acclaimed as the person we are fixated on.

God's will is for us to be fully completely prosperously ourselves. WE are the treasure we are seeking. But until we focus our gaze squarely upon ourselves and redirect all those jealous energies toward our own project, we will never find the pot of gold
.  - Julia Cameron, The Prosperous Heart 

Isn't it thought provoking to substitute the word creativity in the above paragraphs? Have you ever been jealous of another's work or known someone who was jealous of yours? I've experienced the emotion both ways. While I can't do anything about the person who is envious of me other than to encourage them along their own path, it's an uncomfortable feeling not only to be envied but to envy. There is a fine line between being jealous of, wanting to copy exactly, and being inspired by the work of another artist. Ideally, the connection we feel to another artist is a bridge to connecting with our own artist and one that helps us to connect the dots to our own greater creativity. Likewise, the connection someone feels to us. That connection speaks to something within them that wants exploring.

When I study with another artist, what I want more than anything is to find a way to connect the new learning with my previous learning and move forward in my own unique style. I don't want to be them. I want to be me even if that sometimes involves a brief period of copying the masters - a time honored way of learning - HOWEVER... eventually we have to soar alone. When I pay attention, when I don't micro manage my creativity and instead listen to my inner artist, she leads me in the most interesting directions and bridges the inspiration with personal outcome.

I bought the four men's shirts in the first picture because of this skirt of Helen's. It's made from two men's shirts buttoned center front and center back with the collars forming the waistband and the sleeves pushed in to become pockets. Helen is in her mid eighties and is a tiny ball of unbelievable creativity. Being around her is energizing. This skirt is exactly her style. And it's not mine. After looking at the pictures and trying to imagine how I could take the idea of men's shirts and move it forward into a Myrna piece and include at least one bit of surface design, I opted to cut up the shirts and stencil them and then combine the pieces to create a skirt for the in the process of being refashioned black t-shirt. It's becoming a dress.

I spent a couple hours playing in the painting space yesterday, and look - YEAH ME ! ! ! ! ! Diane said... If you want to something different, you have to do something different. I did. I do. I painted. By the end, I was even humming to myself.

Ever since my introduction to Marcy and to Diane's work in 2012, I've wanted to become more comfortable with painting and surface design. I've read the books, bought the paints, watched videos, and stashed up stencils and other supplies. What I haven't done is get my pretty little behind in action and spend any real amount of time applying paint to fabric. A person - me - can only whine and complain, wish and want for so long and then you have to get over what you're fearfully avoiding and do the work because we learn to do the work by doing the work.

The purple shirt was my least favourite of the four. I started with it since - LOL - you shouldn't start with the best when you don't have a clue what you're doing. It's a good idea to work up to the good stuff.  At first, I debated using the darker back side since it was less shiny and seemed to pull in the black of the t-shirt more and then decided the brighter purple would make an excellent accent so I...

...opted instead to blend it to the t-shirt with mostly black mixed with a bit of silver paint. I chose to work with three different scrolling designs and three of the shirts. On the darker...

... purple I used a stencil with larger shapes and mostly silver with a bit of black paint. As soon as I put it on the fabric I thought oh no because it looked blotchy and thick. I made myself carry on because I knew I'd be cutting up the fabric and that it would look totally different in smaller pieces. Tomorrow, I'll show you how that turned out. I left the back of this shirt unpainted because it provided another fabric for the mix.

This third combination surprised me. I mixed mostly purple with a bit of blue paint and love the way it seems to float on the fabric.

It dawned on me yesterday that this is THE most expensive dress I've sewn in ages. Remember how I said that fabrics become less precious when you cut them up. So true. When the work is flowing, I don't even think about the cost as I pull out this and that ingredient and really, it's a waste if I don't use what I have and it's just what my creativity needs if I do.

Even if...

... the cotton knit fabric for the original t-shirt was $30.00 a meter, the four men's shirts were $40.00 at the second hand store, I added a $20.00 piece of batik, and the four paints were $47.00 and I used half the amount. The dress isn't done yet. I don't know if it fits me or even if I like it. Oh well, I'm having fun even if totaled up that's $113.50 so far - way more than I typically pay for one garment BUT... the supplies were bought, paid for, in stash, and waiting to be used. What a crime to not follow up the tickle. Perhaps, there will be enough scraps left for a child's size garment and or a bag. We'll see.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - painted pieces, using stash


  1. Great colors! I can't wait to see how this piece turns out. Glad to see you are playing with paints. It's often that first energy barrier to starting that's the hardest to get over. Having a dedicated space really helps. I've finally been playing with piecing fabrics to make a garment. It's going slowly but I'm having fun— a much more organic process than copying a pattern.

    1. Oh yes... those lectures we need to give ourselves. DO SOMETHING. I think having the space set up is going to be really positive. Can't wait to see what you're piecing together. It is slow... and fun... and organic... and completely energizing. Enjoy.

  2. Well, it might be made of pricey ingredients but the results will be PRICELESS! Can't wait to see.

    Love Helen's shirt-skirt - so inventive!

    1. Priceless. Yes. I pinned the skirt on and quickly tried it on this morning and as soon as I get to fine tuning I think it's going in the direction I envisioned. This is good.

      Helen is endlessly creative. She also sewed the recycled jeans version of Marcy's coat with locks and hinges that is in Marcy's current newsletter. If you haven't seen it, VERY fun. Go look.

  3. "...we learn to do the work by doing the work." Thank you, thank you, thank you. In a pungent ten word nugget of true wisdom, you have captured the core creative lesson I need to tattoo on my forehead. (I, too, took Diane Ericson's seminar at Expo, and her "if you want something to be different, do something different" resonated, but your Ten Words, for me, are less conceptual and more of an action plan." Again, thank you - and now I'm off to "do the work".

    1. You are very very welcome. I'm glad that phrase works for you. It's one I started using about ten years ago when I began teaching independent creativity as opposed to patterned work. Obviously I need to kick my own butt.

      Maybe not a tattoo. Maybe a poster on the wall otherwise you'll need a mirror to see the message - VBG. Have fun doing the work.

  4. I am very interested in this subject of copying and being inspired by someone. We have often heard that their are no new ideas just new versions of the old ones, or something like that. With so much media available to us like Pinterest etc. I find that I would never copy a garment but I find details or a silhouette that I love and use that in my work. That is why I called my blog ( I love your artwork and can't wait to see the end result.

    1. It does feel like recycled versions when I look at "new" decor and "new" fashions that are not new at all to me. I think beyond what's in this year is what's in for me.... which has been in for years and that breeds a certain amount of boredom that has me trying to find new versions of familiar lines and occasionally going wildly outside my box. At times, this project has felt a lot like quilting and it's interesting to see that merge of skills.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.