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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chronicles of Karen...

Chronicles of Karen, now that's a walk down memory lane! Many years ago, 1999 to be exact, I began an email journal of my families wanderings "The Great Overton Adventure" when we were modern day gypsies living in an RV working on the road...back then email was my way to reach out and least verbally of my ramblings. Time marches on and here comes blogville, and I can add photos!

Hum...I sometimes have wondered why I want to chronicle my journey...I mean after all, do I really think someone is going to write my life story and need all this material for their book (grin). No. I've decided that I chronicle for selfish reasons - to be reminded of the blessings that have come my way when my way is clouded and I have lost focus.

Life can get busy, it can be boring. Life can be troublesome, it can be joyous. But pretty much it's all the above and everything in between.
Life happens, memories are made, some are forgotten.

It's been quite a long time since I've journal-ed my journey. .. Truthfully I had to go through my photos to refresh my memory of what has happened since I last posted. Thankfully there are a lot of photos so I plan on letting them tell my story.

As I've reflected over this year that is just totally flying by I've sometimes thought that it's been a difficult time. The first of the year was mixed emotions as we started out with my father-in-law in the hospital as we planned my youngest son's wedding. What a whirlwind! Trying to catch up on quilting and then it was time for the Dallas show and setting up A1 quilting machines. As my home was being repaired and remodeled I relinquished my quilting time to a time of waiting .... lots of Tiki Hut hours racked up that's for sure.

Finally the day came where this became my morning view...

Oh the joy of being back to work in my cheerful studio. Seems I was starved for anything quilt-ie and yet found myself in such need of inspiration to get me back in the saddle.

The opportunity presented itself in the form of a workshop with Ellen Anne Eddy, a fiber artist who was a guest of one of the local quilt guilds.

Ellen Anne's work is inspiring to say the least. And soooo far from my comfort zone it's not even funny. Thread play? on a domestic?

I truly enjoyed her trunk show and getting to see her work up close and personal. I loved her hand dyed fabrics (and came home with a little stash to call my own). It's my hope to take some time in the new future to attempt a little thread play myself, both on the domestic and then try to translate it to the longarm...

I have always loved nature and have tried to capture the beauty around me with my camera, even though I don't get professional results with my attempts, it's the memory jog that I relish. Who knows, after Ellen Anne's class I might be inspired to capture the memory in a quilt...

Here's a glance of my backyard critters this summer..

Do you think any of these are quilt worthy?

I'm not really into bugs, but I do love lizzards...and have to admit, I used to collect the discarded shells of this bug..

Some critters are more welcomed in my backyard than others....but God did make all creatures big and small...

Maybe I should stick to flowers for my inspiration, like the ones for my birthday...

Yep, July was my birthday month, and in keeping with tradition I celebrate as many times as possible. Including going to the circus (that explains my opening photo!)

The Island Quilter's Guild has an annual sew in and it generally falls on my birthday. I missed last year, in fact had missed all the meetings this year (I mentioned that it was crazy). But I decided it was time to join back in the fun, so I went this year!

Also keeping with tradition, I like to make a quilt on my birthday, so this is the 2011 model.

This quilt not only was my birthday quilt but also a quilt I made for my A1 reunion (more on this later).

Meanwhile back at the youngest son had been working on a wall mural for me and was determined to finish it ON my birthday so he could date it 7.23.11

By the time I came home with my finished quilt top and hung it on the design wall he was signing his name to his art....

The next morning I went back and put into practice a technique I learned from our guild speaker during the sew-in...I'm making a rug to go in front of the lime green door in my studio. It's still a work in progress, so more on that in the future.

One of the joys of being a quilter is having talented quilting friends. A greater joy is seeing their work, especially if it's in a show. Several of us took time away from the sew in to take a side trip to view fellow guild member, Peggy Baldwin-Clayton's quilts featured in an exhibit there on the island. Story Quilts
I took a ton of photos, and truly, this side-trip deserves a blog post of it's own.... Peggy was inspired by Mary Lou Weidman in her style of story quilts....many of Mary Lou's quilts were on display in addition to Peggy's. The show runs through the end of September so if you are in Galveston you owe it to yourself to take the time to view.

Peggy's story quilt documenting her 50th birthday was very inspiring...I think if I were to make a quilt of my birthdays I'd have to include this year's surprise photo!

Yes, Pixxie actually took a taste of my birthday cake!

But we left her at home when we had the family celebration at La Brisa

Did I mention that I really like to celebrate my birthday? Never just one cake or one party (grin).

All too soon July has turned into August and my, it's more than halfway over already! Here's a few photos from my A1 Reunion held the first weekend of the month. We invite all our A1 customers to join us for a couple of days of training and fun.

Johnny teaches part of the maintenance class, and I share my tips of the trade... and then we shared our LaBrisa with several that wanted to join us for dinner.

Several of our customers couldn't stay for the second day of design class...I regret that I didn't get a group photo the first day....but here's a glimpse of part of my A1 family, and the star of our show Pixxie.

We really had a fun two days together and ended it with those who wanted to join us at Dickinson BBQ.

Inspired by my customers or just the first opportunity since the remodel... Johnny is quilting his first quilt!

And Pixxie is proud of him.

As someone has said, if Pixxie wants to model with your quilt that's a high stamp of approval!

Like I mentioned earlier, this year has just flown by and been nothing but unusual...the only guild meeting that I attended the first half of the year where those held in my own home (longarm guild). I've not been able to attend any local quilt shows either until I visited the one featuring Peggy...I've committed to try to change that! Actually visited a show last weekend where one of our longarm guild members had several quilts in the show.

Here's Barbara Staten with one of her quilts. Many of her customer quilts had ribbons as well.

It was a nice show. Very refreshing. Made me stop and realize that it's good to take time to refresh. Many times we get so busy in trying to juggle what life throws at us that we forget to take time to refresh. For some, like me, it could be taking time out to be among like minded folks (quilters for example) or just being outside enjoying the beauty of God's creation... Simple things like a ferry ride across Galveston Bay....

At sunset...

Letting the wind and the waves bring a comfort to a tired and weary soul...

with the beauty of an almost full moon...

Yes, I think I truly blog for me. It's nice to have an audience, but it's really my chronicle. My reminder of the things that God has placed in my life. The friends who come along side me and encourage me, the peers whose work inspires me, the beauty of my Lord's creation which is truly the only encouragement and inspiration I know that He loves me.