Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little Bird Told Me It Was Time To Break Out!

Once in a blue moon it feels like my creativity has been pushed behind a closed door, barred, locked, with the key no where to be found.

Oh, for the most part I can function, I've learned to go about the daily duties. Even to the point of enjoying myself, not being too burdened with the same ole same ole, recognizing that this is just the normal ebb and flow of life.

I remind myself to be thankful that I'm alive, to enjoy the simple act of breathing, to live, love, laugh, to share the journey...

But it's the lack of creativity that seems to make me restless.

I found myself in that mood a week or so ago and had a temporary fix by staying up late one Friday night to make the little basket above that is holding my little Beanie Baby was satisfying, it was productive...but it wasn't true creativity - well, choosing the fabric perhaps, but the basket is a store bought pattern (one that I would recommend, it was fun to make! Aunties Two Biscut Basket) . A temporary band-aid fix to my desiring a little creativity. I longed to do something uniquely mine - no pattern....

It's difficult to stop long enough to recognize the quiet beckoning of creativity. Its gentle call to unlock the door, to take a chance to walk through to the unknown, to relax, to play, to explore new things without the pressure of being productive. The killer of creativity is not only time, but the fear factor...the biggest killer is the combination of both - the fear of wasting time!

It was time for me to BREAK OUT!

This weekend I was given that opportunity. A small window of time to escape the routine, to toss off the burden of being productive, to surround myself with gifted Quilt Angels who were willing to share of their experiences in this journey of quilting by providing a place of creative retreat...

Destination: Inspiration Station!

My exact location is to remain anonymous, a secret, a guarded treasure - least the masses want to break out and join us. (I did manage to smuggle out this google image to verify that I really was there!) Plus the fact, a couple of the attendees have to worry about the paparazzi and were looking for a quiet escape themselves. So we were Quilters Anonymous At Inspiration Station.

Creativity sometimes desires intimacy and seclusion, to be among those entrusted individuals who encourage and nurture your thoughts and ideas to take wing without the fear of ridicule, rejection or condemnation. I was so looking forward to this escape.

My journey was one that took effort and determination just to move towards its promised reward - almost like Christian's journey in Pilgrim's Progress...

First there were obligations on the home front/business that delayed the journey by several hours, more than half the day actually, pushing back my departure time to the time I had hoped to had arrived..... Then there was the road block ... the interstate access to my destination was closed due to a major accident forcing me to give up my reliance on the GPS and pull out the good ole paper state map to find the back roads.... only to find another detour due to a road closing for a major accident with a fatality. It was then that I recognized my morning delays for what they truly were - a protection, an avoidance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. God's sovereignty.

The detour on back country roads caused me to lose my bearings. And my GPS was of no help - for "Jack", the voice of my module, kept "recalculating" trying to lead me back towards the original interstate route. Where or where is the manual override to these things! Thank goodness for real men! A quick stop at the corner convenience store rewarded me with a half a dozen good ole Texas working men not city transplanted wannabe Texans (remember, I was in the country) who were more than willing to help a lady with directions. (Can't say enough about REAL Texas men, the definition of a true gentleman). Soon I was pointing the right direction, and shedding the pressures of all my delays.

My back roads journey was just what I needed, of course God knew. There's nothing like a good road trip with the radio cranked up full blast with praise and worship songs while viewing God's uncluttered (country-fied) creation out the windshield!

My Inspiration Station was in the home of a gracious Quilt Angel who so willingly shared her studio with myself and another Creative Quilt Angel. Two others, themselves Creative Quilt Angels, were unable to join us. Their paths are difficult right now, so thoughts and prayers were lifted in their behalf, and continue.

I wish I could share photos of my Hostess Quilt Angel, but that would disclose our whereabouts. All I can say is I was truly surrounded by inspiration! The studio housed EVERYTHING one could need for a fabric journey in creativity - books, notions, threads, fabric, projects! 30+ years of a seasoned quilter, one who generously shares of not only her knowledge but of her vast quilting supplies.

Okay, I had to quick gawking, set up my machine and try to get a little quality sewing time before curfew (curfew? who am I kidding, quilters are known to quilt through the night!)

Our try something new, something creative. Something inspired from a recent workshop with Ellen Anne Eddy....thread painting. My two Creative Quilt Angels, who had a better grasp and understanding of the process, gently took my hand and guided me into the unknown.

First I chose a design - a cute tree frog taken from a dollar store coloring book...He was drawn out on my prepared work materials....and I jumped in with both feet, however, not without a lot of fear and trepidation. Oh me of little faith, I was encouraged, oh so encouraged by my Creative Quilt Angels!

We were going to be doing bobbin work, on a domestic (home) sewing machine. I had to ask how to drop my feed dogs - something that was necessary for this free motion embroidery (for those unfamiliar with these terms, don't ask me to explain as I'm a student myself!)

I quickly found that bobbin work is like working backwards and working somewhat blind - my design was actually a mirror image of my drawing.... First order of business, outline with thread... Here's what it looked like on the right side (my blind side).

Next began the "painting". Much like color book coloring, filling in with thread....

I couldn't wait to turn my little project over to see how he was turning out...

It was love at first sight. I'd kissed my frog and he became a prince in my eyes...perhaps this little frog prince held the keys to unlocking my creativity...perhaps...

My Creative Guardian Quilt Angels were very generous to share from their thread stash and were kind enough to ohh and ahh at all the right places to encourage me to continue and not be too harsh on myself because things weren't perfect.

Slowly, gently my little frog came to life. The final touch, adding his eyes - for I've been told the eyes are the windows to the soul. My little fellow didn't have a soul, but his eyes certainly gave him character!

Wow, I did it, actually did thread painting on my domestic! Now came the hard part. Was he just going to be a practice piece or did I want to stretch the imagination and try to make him a project to be productive.

Time to stretch, to enjoy my surroundings and the company of my two Creative Quilt Angels. Marvelous meals, fantastic fellowship...wish I could share a photo of my accommodations - the quilt on the bed and the one on the wall were simply beautiful. My Hostess Quilt Angel had beautifully adorned her habitat with things that refreshed this weary quilter's heart.

I found this little hidden treasure tucked away in a well stocked bookcase....and had to chuckle!

The decision was made, my little frog prince needed to be a part of a project, a future quilt....the only fabric. Seems in my haste to pack for Inspiration Station (and not really knowing what to bring in the first place) I somehow managed to arrive with only one fabric - yards and yards of the tie dye used as the background...I had discovered that having a contrasting background fabric meant I had to paint very densely. If I could use a different color for the rest of the project things would be different....less dense equals less thread equals less time.

Permission to ram-shackle through my Hostess Quilt Angel's stash produced this beautiful batik that I could transform into leaves to fan my prince. (Again, thanks to both my Creative Quilt Angels for sharing their thread stash, fabrics, supplies, knowledge, etc - were it not for their generosity I would have been without a clue and missed this opportunity to explore.)

Using variegated thread in the bobbin produced a wonderful effect, but it was sooo hard to imagine how it was turning out while working on the back side...being the impatient person that I am, I kept stopping and turning over to check out the results...It truly was a mystery during the process. I had to give myself permission to mess up and not be worried if the shading was in the wrong place or not...

Once the leaves and tree frog were pronounced good it was time for the scary part....that of trimming them so they became a 3D type applique. More new territory -- I've always been afraid of the A- word but my Guardian Creative Quilt Angels so aptly took time away from their own thread play journey, held my hand, and encouraged me forward..... oh oh.... would my prince and his leaf fans look best on my one and only fabric? should I wait until I get home to go through the stash drawer I forgot to pack?

Never fear, Inspiration Station is really a magical castle...I was given free reign in this new found creative kingdom and gifted a beautiful piece of hand dyed fabric on which to lay my applique.

Sadly, other obligations prevented me from more than 24 hours at Inspiration Station, but my what WE accomplished in those 24 hours! This was truly a group project and I am so thankful to my friends for sharing this journey with me.

I want to continue adding to this piece before I pronounce it finished, but for right now I am more than pleased to have my little frog prince gracing my design wall in my studio. This was so much fun ....

In keeping with the anonymity I am only providing a glimpse of a few thread paintings done by my sister Quilt Angels, including the little bird at the opening of this post...

The birds were thread painted by my Hostess...

The sea turtle was thread painted by friend #2...she shared a beautiful project that she's been working on since our original class together....but it is for her to share....Truly she has a talent for this and I can't wait to see her masterpiece in an upcoming quilt show this spring.

All to soon it was time to pack up the sewing machine, return spools of thread, and give appreciative hugs all around with promises of doing this again in the spring, with hopes that our other two quilt-journeymen can join us....I can only imagine having FOUR Creative Quilt Angels mentoring and unleashing my creativity. I am truly blessed to know such talented generous quilters!

I can't say the return trip was uneventful, but it was without detours! It was eventful because I was able to observe one of my favorite times of day - the revealing of His Majesty in the amazing sunset as observed out my windshield.

My reminder that my God is the author of creativity, and all I have to do is ask Him to unlock the doors to inspire me....and sometimes He uses Quilt Angels (grin).

Indescribable - Chris Tomlin
From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God


Nikki said...

beautiful little art quilt there Karen!!

Anne-Lise at Rag, Tag, Bobtail said...

Your frog prince is very handsome :-) beautiful work.