Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Me Being Authentic

Looking back, I see that my first blog post was five years ago. Mind boggling. Sticking with the blogging is an accomplishment. I have had lapses, but have really leaned into posting at least once a month. Sharing some of my creating struggles and accomplishments has been a great way for me to have a record of my journey. Plus, I try to be upbeat, kind, and look at the bright side. No kvetching, no politics (well, a little bit of each when it is unavoidable.) I have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have shared projects that I still shake my head at; wondering what I was thinking? I have even annoyed other people along the way. That is the true test of authenticity.

One of my most recent projects is going to counseling to learn to be more assertive, and to get to the bottom of my hang-ups. Today's assigned reading is about Authenticity. I know what it means, Originality,  but just how to do it is sort of ephemeral. I think writing a blog post and sharing it in social media is pretty authentic. While I was writing my morning pages today, defining authenticity and attempting to write some measurable objectives, I realized that I was in my yoga uniform: racerback top and matching tight leggings, definitely conforming. Hmmmm.

Authenticity seems to be a mental thing. An emotional thing. A Be True to Yourself thing.  But don't overthink it! Good luck defining it, that really gets twisted. We are all original inside, but there is nothing new under the sun. I mean, for Pete's Sake, there are over 7 BILLION people in the world right now, and lots more before us, so how can there be any originality? Well, we all have unique fingerprints. How amazing is that? That must mean there have been over 10 BILLION different sets of fingerprints in all. Wow. And every one of those sets of fingerprints belongs to a unique person who smiles and thinks differently. Even identical twins look a little bit different. To me, that says there is hope!

When I look at a book of quilt ideas, I love to analyze the colors and overall effect. I like to read the text, and study the pattern instructions. I look for fabrics that I recognize. And then I dream about how to take the ideas, and make my own quilts. My sister gave me a dreamy book for my birthday, Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah. It is a melting pot of piecing and fabrics from different cultures. Her work has lots of contrast, and lovely saturated colors. The instructions are ridiculously simple. Her enthusiasm is contagious. When I look at this book, I want to dump out boxes of fabric and start cutting stuff up and sewing it back together. Which, in case you aren't a sewer, is a good thing!

The little quilt in this blog post is based on her quilt, Sunset. She uses blues and oranges to create a tropical sunset over the Arabian Sea. It almost shimmers with breezes, and ripples of water. Her half square triangles are uneven, and graduate from lighter to darker to cause the effect, which I love.

I have been wanting to use some triangles of pastel left over from a baby quilt, and paired them up with variations of celery green and soft butter yellow. I think the effect is like an English garden, very soft and muted. I chose a lavender Kaffe print for the border, which draws the eyes toward the violets in the middle of the quilt. The binding is plum with a flange of grey and silver. The back of the quilt is yellow gingham, like a picnic cloth.

To make this a Cultural Fusion quilt, I thought of Mary Lennox, in The Secret Garden, a little girl who came from India and was able to become free and authentic in an English garden. This is my original version of a traditional pattern. Me being authentic.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The River of Dreams

I went to a wedding dressed as the Salmon River. Here is the story. My friends are river guides whose theme for their recent wedding was the confluence of rivers. They got married on the bank of the Salmon River, and even arrived and left the ceremony in a drift boat. They served salmon for the wedding dinner. Their wedding cake was the image of the river.

As an artist and seamstress, I thought I should make a dress that reflected the wedding theme. Having just made a salmon quilt, and with leftover fabric strips, I designed this fun dress to wear to the wedding.  It has a big steelhead, and even river rocks at the bottom.

Now back to the quilt. I was asked to make a salmon quilt by an aunt whose nephew is doing salmon research in Alaska. She is unable to sew at this point, and seeing my fish quilt, she thought I could make her dream of a salmon quilt come true. So she sent me her collection of batiks, 15 yards in all, and said I could keep whatever I didn't use... talk about a dream come true!

I color set the fabrics first. Blues like to bleed. I prefer synthropol to set the dyes.

Then I laid out the fabrics in gradations of color, and cut 3" wide strips. I sewed them together, then pressed and cut them into panels which I staggered. I used big pieces of the batiks for the back of the quilt. I had a panel from another project with animals from Alaska. It really added to the overall richness of the Alaska story.

I thought a sockeye salmon would look artsy. Using the pattern I had drawn for my steelhead trout quilt, and an image from the internet, I came up with a big spawning sockeye.

The client asked me to put a label with a photo of her nephew (the researcher) and some sentiments on the back  of the quilt.

I quilted the quilt on my domestic machine. Wavy lines are my current favorite. Then I applied a flanged binding by machine. What a fun way to frame the quilt. Dark blue with a flange of salmon pink.

I tried a new method to photograph the entire quilt, draped in the shade in my yard. I was thrilled with the finish, and so was the client.  Here is what she said: "Jane, the quilt made it here and it is spectacular! I'm so glad you could make it...and it is way beyond anything I envisioned. Max will love it."