Saturday, November 20, 2021

Moving On

Tick Tock, Thanksgiving is next week, and then Christmas soon behind, and the baby for which the Kaffe inspired quilt is for will be celebrating his first birthday. So time to quit dilly dallying, set the book projects aside, and finish clearing the work table so the top can be sandwiched. As it turned out, there wasn't all that much to sort, put away or set aside  - I was just dreading picking through the first piles containing paper scraps (I have designs to try some weaving of the narrower strips). The rest pretty up stacked to be moved to the floor until they can return to the table. Look at that beautiful cleared off table! Well, except for a small strip at the end which I knew I could leave after measuring the backing.

And here it is with the quilt sandwich ready to pin baste (I keep my pins in a big Almond Roca tin.). It shouldn't take long, and I will also thread baste around the outside. I've pretty much settled on the design I will quilt over it. Hopefully, that won't take too long either. By the way, that Warm and Plush batting really does feel plusher than other cotton or cotton blend battings I generally use. We'll see how it quilts up.

In the meantime, we got our first real snow the other day and overnight. The neighbor kids did not disappoint, getting right out there to make a snow family, creatively decorated. Click on the picture for a larger version and check out the glasses.

Although I didn't get out soon enough to check how much snow we got as it was pretty wet and heavy and started settling (but not melting) early on, the weather report noted we got 5 inches and with temps in the 30's, it will be staying around. When I went for my walk, I noted quite a few fir trees that still had big piles of snow on their branches. Winter is here. 

Monday, November 15, 2021


This quotation, found here on Austin Kleon's Tumblr, seemed an appropriate follow-up to my last post about free may not cost you money but it does cost you time:

“I don’t want more, I want less. I want to have less, so I will have more time to devote to this gift that I have. Because in the final analysis, the only thing that we have that is not renewable is our life. When I am dead, they will still make money. My time, I have decided, is more important. To claim my time to do what I want to do in that time.”

After posting, I hoped readers would not think I fancied myself above or not in need of more information at all. No, I have several blogs I follow, like Austin's, where I find much that is thought provoking and sometimes, useful quotations I'm not seeing elsewhere. As I worked on my current book project (part of my slow cleaning off of my work table), this post on The Principles of Patience popped up on Austin's Tumblr. It's short and I give you its bullet points as a teaser, hoping you will follow the link and read the explanation under each one. They all seemed to apply to my current project.

Embrace radical incrementalism.

First let me say, making books leads to as much leftover bits and pieces too good to throw out but sometimes head scratchers to figure out what to do with as making quilts. After finishing the last leather book, I had 8 perfectly good signatures from the bottom half of the paper I was using left over. Shorter than the signatures for the long stitch link stitch leather book but still a decent height for another leather book I wanted to try. I cut a piece from the smooth leather bomber jacket had for 99 cents, fused a heavier batik to it with Steam-A-Seam (hoping it would prevent fraying along the edges which Heat and Bond did not do), chose the handspun hemp thread I'd used in a Japanese stab stitch book, punched holes in the spine and started sewing in the signatures.

This is supposed to be one of those easy and relatively quick books to make, and with the signatures already cut and pressed, I should have been able to finish it in a couple of days. But instead, I found myself doing small bits at a time, stretched over an entire week. Working incrementally. After the first signature was sewn in and I had the hang of doing the "packing" around each long stitch, I moved my materials to my office so I could do that meditative wrapping of the thread while watching, or at least listening to, videos on my computer. I think I did that for 3 days before all five signatures were sewn in.

As a side note, I had to laugh when listening to an interview with a bookmaker while I worked on the covers. She had attended some sort of class herself where she was introduced to the idea of "stacking" which I realized is just a new-fangled term for multi-tasking and was actually exactly what I was doing at the moment. In other words, find another thing you can do while involved in something else - say, do some sketching while watching tv (her example). Lordy, I've been "stacking" for all my life! 

Develop a taste for having problems.

Well yeah, anyone who has sewn or quilted or done any kind of craft or art should be familiar with running into problems as one works through a project. In fact, I can remember a few times when things went flawlessly and quickly and it absolutely unnerved me I was so used to issues cropping up. As you can see, I was incorporating seams into the cover in a different way from the first leather book, not stopping to think that by centering a seam horizontally, it would become a problem when I started punching sewing holes and adding a closure. Too late now - forge ahead.

But that was minor compared with what I discovered when I sewed the last signature in and closed the book. The spine rounded pushing the signatures with it to make them uneven and not what was supposed to happen. The spacing between long stitch stitches was too wide (or the signatures could have been fatter). The whole structure was unstable and wonky.

And the first and last long stitch was visible on the front and back. I'd have to come up with a solution. Oh yes, I definitely have a taste for having problems! And for the most part, I am a patient person, not that interested in immediate gratification, so bumping up against issues that slow me down become welcome challenges. But there IS a limit to my patience!

More often than not, originality lies on the far side of unoriginality.  

So here we go, analyzing the problem to determine its cause and how it might be fixed. I had used 5 of the 8 signatures instead 4 as shown in the directions because I wanted the remainder for yet another kind of leather book calling for 3 signatures. I placed the 3 between the sewn-in signatures to see if adding more would fix the problem.

Even just the 3 showed that, if I could figure out a way of adding a signature between the ones already attached, my book should behave as it's supposed to.

But adding with more long stitches with packing won't work - just not enough room between the stitches already there. I've been muddling options for days, as well as trying to work out how to attach some kind of wrap for a closure (that dang center seam!) and may have hit upon something (which hopefully won't leave me with even more unused signatures). Whatever I choose, it will take me from just following a set of directions into original territory for this binding. Originality from unoriginality. 

If you are interested in giving this book a try, the instructions are free over on Ali Manning's Vintage Page Designs website here.  And video instructions are here.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Notes To Myself

I've been slowly clearing the piles off the worktable so I can get that baby quilt that has been ready for so long layered up for quilting. In the process I uncovered these - bits of inspiration either copied from someone else or coming into my mind on their own. I had these stuck up in my studio before I moved to my current location, and although I've come across the stack more than once, I've always hesitated to put them up in the new studio. I do think they are still good advice to myself but I am thinking of putting them in a journal instead of out in the open. I have so little wall space for things like that.

I've been thinking more about being more selective with what I spend my time on, thinking about how many of the free e-mails I've signed up for focus on supporting the emerging artist, filling the page with inspirational thoughts about creating and creativity, encouragement not to give up or worry about what one might perceive as failures. All those artists acting as cheerleaders for the rest of us - team novice. There was a time I really needed to hear all those words of support as well as the many suggestions about what to do if you feel blocked, managing your time, building confidence. I'm sure you know just what I mean. The last few months I realize I'm just scanning those and don't usually need any of the information in them, I've heard it all before. I've sort of plateaued in my journey, having absorbed all kinds of advice, technical information, ideas, and have gained a pretty good understanding of when my work is good and when it is not.  I liked both of the comments on my last post, one in particular from a woman who I think has traveled a similar road to mine and has arrived at a similar place. It is good to face the facts and make decisions that will free us to get on with what we really want to do. Although I have to admit, I'm still struggling a bit with what that thing is. No amount of free e-mail advice is going to help me with that at this point! But it is a good start to jettison the time-suckers that don't push me forward and leave behind groups that don't serve me well anymore. Tough love I guess.