Always in Stitches

Location: Algonquin, Illinois, United States

Monday, July 31, 2006

Book Report

Where has the time gone this week? Well to be honest, I really do know. I have been doing some reading this week. That seems like a benign enough statement, but for me that is like an addict saying they have had “some” of their drug of choice. Oh geeze, here we go: “My name is Linda and I am addicted to reading.”

Anyway, since my reading list this week deals with art and creativity and doing the work, I thought I would share the list and some of my general impressions of each book here.

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative–Roger Von Oech

Grade: D Even though this book came to me highly recommended, I really could not read it. For some reason I could not get past all the goofy drawings. I did try to read it on several occasions over the last week. It just didn’t do anything for me. This was an oddity for me, even if I end up not liking I book I can normally manage to read it. You may be asking, so if I couldn’t get into reading, why doesn’t the book get an F? Truthfully, someone thought enough of the material to write it, publish it and make it into an actual book. That is more than I have done to date, so someone must have found some value in it.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft –Stephen King

Grade: C Let me first preface this with the disclaimer that I have never before read anything by Stephen King. Mostly because I am not particularly drawn to the genre in which he writes. Overall I found the book to be self-serving which for me detracted from what I had hoped the book would focus on. There were some insights that I found intriguing about how he writes. If you are a Stephen King fan you might find the book enchanting.

The Blank Canvas: Inviting the Muse—Anna Held Audette

Grade: B- This book was short and sweet. The content is likely more useful to those who are just starting their art career or those who always seem to be at a loss for ideas. For me the challenge is typically one of sorting through the pile of ideas and deciding which one has the most merit and which I think will hold my attention to the completion of the project. Still there were some interesting insights in this book and worth the read.

Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking—David Bayles and Ted Orland

Grade: B A no nonsense guide meant to spur the artist to just do the work. Hey and don’t we all need a cattle prod applied to our backside once in a while to get past all the self doubts and inner criticisms that come as part and parcel of being an artists? Perhaps the best advise in the book is the idea that the “successful” artist is the one that simply does not quit! There are millions of reasons that an artist faces each and every day that encourages or perhaps even demands they give up, and many do they just give up. This book helps to identify some of those stumbling blocks and looks at some ways to get past them.

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age—Daniel H. Pink

Grade: B Interesting book, interesting concept. Guaranteed to make you do a little thinking. In a round about way reading this book led me to the transcript of a lecture given at Columbia by Malcolm Gladwell. There is a connection between these two books and some of the concepts advanced in Art and Fear. More good brain food.

The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Visa Versa—Michael Kimmelman

Grade: B+/A- This was a good “story” book. There are various stories presented in this book that in subtle and not so subtle ways encourages us to challenge what we perceive as “art” and looks at how someone’s obsession can take on an art-like quality.

The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters—Karl Iglesias

Grade: A What a surprise this book turned out to be. The author interview a dozen or so screenwriters about their working habits, where they come up with ideas, and other questions that most artists have, regardless of the medium, on how to become successful. Unless you are the type that stays and reads the credits at the end of the movie, you may not recognize their names, but you will recognize the film titles. What I found so appealing about this book is that everyone has his or her own approach to the work. What some “always” do, others say is a “never”. While some of the topics are geared specifically at screenwriters there is plenty of information that you can apply to your own medium. Given the diverse working styles, the other thing I found interesting was the few topics on which everyone agreed. This one was well worth the read.

If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kingdom of Europe, were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all.—Francois Fenelon

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Here is something for your viewing pleasure. It’s just a small piece that I started and completed in the last couple of days. This one is called “Sunset”.

Long list of things that need doing today, so that is all for now.

The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work. —Richard Bach

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


The last week has been the time for wild rollercoaster rides. Normally I love a wild rollercoaster, but the one that I have been on lately I could just as well have done without. At least those wild rides move you forward at a breakneck sped. And so I have been getting some things done nonetheless.

First thing is that I have rearranged my working environment. Believe me this was NOT on my agenda, but apparently my work methods were not “working” for others. The bottom line is that if I have to sit on a dirt floor and balance my sewing machine on my knees in order to create that is exactly what I will do. Not creating is like not breathing…. Not an option.

Second, the idea that was torturing me in my last post has finally resolved itself in my mind. With the crystallization of that idea, a dozen or more ideas were born that quickly filled in several pages of my sketchbook. There were actually an idea or two that I didn’t even bother to sketch out. Nope just grabbed my materials and set to work.

This is ‘Joy”. In the midst of the upheaval and feeling like I was once again banging my head against that brick wall, I came across some scraps leftover from my 2005 September Journal quilt. That piece was an interpretation of a tortoise shell. But after it was done I realized that there was something joyful about the image. In “Joy” I wanted to accentuate that feeling.

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Toil and Trouble

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

Macbeth, 4.1

Of late, I feel like one of the Weird Sisters. I keep circling around the Idea Cauldron throwing in one thing after another. The idea is there, the pot is cooking, the magic is working. I must be patient and allow the magic to work. Or maybe I just need to add a few more “ingredients”.

Nothing is, But what is not. --Shakespeare

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

Let me start off by wishing you all a very happy July 4!

Second, I want to encourage you to surf over to Ami’s site and look at the great quilts in the auction. There are 19 quilts up for auction this month and I know there is one there that you will just have to bid on.

Next on the list is to thank you all for the kind comments and emails and even a few phone calls, telling my how much you like the Nevilyn quilt. I am overwhelmed. “Nevilyn” has left my house and is starting her three-year trip with a gathering in Flint Mi. There she will meet up with her other traveling companions, have her picture taken and, I am sure, will find a few special new friends that she likes to hang out with.

I have been remiss in not answering a question that was asked in the comments section, regarding how I did the photo of Nevilyn. The truth is that while I have done several photos onto quilts, I have never done it the same way twice. I have used Bubble Jet Set, treated the fabric, ironed it to freezer paper and run it though the printer. I have used iron on transfer paper that I ran thought the printer and then ironed on to the fabric. So true to form this time I tried something I hadn’t done before.

Over to JoAnn’s and in the quilting notions section I picked up several packages of “June Tailor Computer Printer Fabric”. There are several different brands that I know of… this just happened to be the one that JoAnn’s was carrying on the day that I was there. Normally, you have a choice of “white” or “natural”. The natural reminds me of nice muslin. There is also a new product out that is a sheer that you can print on and I have been itching to pick up some of that to play with. But for this project I wanted plain ole white fabric.

I then scanned the photo into the computer, used Paint Shop Pro to get the gradations that I wanted and printed the images out on the fabric with the inkjet printer. If that seems a little too much for you… you can simply find an INKJET copier and copy the photos directly onto the fabric. Just make sure it is an INKJET copier. The heat in the other types of copiers will yield a result that will NOT make you happy and may damage the printer/copier.

I have heard that it is best to let the printed fabric “cure”. All that means is you let the printed fabric set for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. I think the longer you can wait the better. You then need to peel off the paper backing and hit the fabric with a hot, DRY iron. Do not use steam! The heat helps to set the ink into the fibers of the fabric. Then it is just a matter of cut and sew, just as you would use any other fabric. Ta-Da!

If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing. —W. Edwards Deming