On Learning PATCHWORK IMPROV

Despite my many attempts at sewing over the years, I’ve never been able to shed my frustration with puckers and crooked seams and all sorts of irregularities. Enter “Patchwork Improv,” the possible antidote to my feelings of defeat and disenchantment with precision patterns.

improvquiltThere are three “Patchwork Improv” classes offered through Creativebug and presented by Sherri Lynn Wood, an award-winning author and “improvisor.” I watched the series on working with shapes—the other two installments deal with angles and strips. Given what I experienced through the videos I’ve watched so far, I also can’t wait to pick up Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously (Abrams). Improv. Creating. Living courageously. Sure, I’m all ears!

The best part about patchwork improv? No measuring! It involves all free-hand cutting and trimming! No more aggravation with one piece not quite matching up with another, with the result looking kind of kitty wumpus—in fact, the more kitty wumpus, the better, with this art form. The process? I learned that you begin by cutting out a variety of “squarish” shapes from any old fabric —Wood loves tearing apart men’s shirts for her fodder—then determine your “filler fabric,” then rev up your sewing machine and go to town!

Not long ago, I purchased a funky geometric painting from one of my favorite local art centers. Now I can’t help but think of how I could make something similar with fabric using Wood’s improv methods. Stay tuned for an update!

 

On Reading I JUST LIKE TO MAKE THINGS

IJustLikeOn the recommendation of a creative friend, I picked up I Just Like to Make Things: Learn the Secrets to Making Money While Staying Passionate About Your Art and Craft by Lilla Rogers. The author is both an artist and an agent who has secured contracts, licenses, and other agreements for herself and others who have a knack for modern illustration. The book is filled with testimonies and tips on how to make a mark in children’s books, textiles, craft papers, and other goods that carry color and design.

 

I most enjoyed the bookends of I Just Like to Make Things, first Rogers’ use of a bird analogy to demonstrate how we artists can visualize our life’s work:

 

…for every person on our planet, there are fifty birds. Wow! I would love to meet my fifty birds. They are all out there, and we don’t even know which ones are ours… If you think of the life of your career as having fifty birds, what would they be? Let’s let them equal fifty meaningful events or highlights in your career. They are out there, but like your birds, you just don’t know what they are yet. You won’t know until you reach the end of your life and look back; but in the meantime, they will happen. 

 

I love this visual. I love that my success doesn’t have to be defined by just one epic moment—a sum of many makes up the whole. I also love that, like birds, my art can boast diversity and color and merry tunes of all sorts. Yes, this imagery will indeed stick with me as I discover my artistic identity and calling. 

 

IMG_3739The other bookend? One of the concluding exercises of I Just Like to Make Things is to consider the many different turns an art career can take. Rogers presents forty-plus ideas to help “garner some self-awareness” and arrive at “what you really, deeply want to do next” in the creative realm. As she suggests, I photocopied the page, cut all the options into little rectangles, then drew five pieces randomly from the pile. I was skeptical of this assignment at first, but in the end, I gained some valuable insight:

Open an Etsy shop
I attempted this about a year ago with some scarves I made, but I think I definitely need a lot more stuff and a more defined personal style. I plan to work on the latter to arrive eventually at the former.

Volunteer to help creative kids
I love this idea! My dream of dreams would be to facilitate a kids’ knitting and crocheting group. My daughter is attending a fine-arts interdisciplinary school this fall, plus my church is starting a free after-school program for grades K-5. Perhaps I could start groups at those venues?

Sew for fun
Another option that piques my interest! It was at a Fourth of July parade that I became aware of the efforts of Iowa-based Dress a Girl Around the World, and I’ve been thinking about making simple little dresses for charity ever since. I also came across a few fun videos on Creativebug on “Patchwork Improv.” I’m in!

Start your own company including manufacturing
I began my own company about twelve years ago when I became a freelance writer. I changed the name of it some time later to make sure it could grow beyond communications. My next steps? To honor my intentions from long ago! To get creative! To make stuff!

Make jewelry
This option wrinkled my nose at first, but it grew on me when I thought about how I can use my current skills, know-how, and supplies to make small items for sale. I plan to experiment a bit with crochet and buttons and yarn and beads in the weeks ahead.

 

I know I’ve read a good book if it motivates me to some kind of action. Boy, do I have a to-do list from this one! Stay tuned as I get to work.