Before diving into the Craft Napa experience I want to share a couple of things.
Last week I purchased a coloring book with positive, affirming sayings for myself and a friend. We might have needed the affirmation, though I’m not entirely sure. This morning is the first opportunity I’ve had to dig into one of the images with the saying, “Stay patient and trust the journey.” As I chose a marker and started coloring in one of the words this memory bubbled up to the surface and as it did a barrage of words did too.
A friend and I were coloring at her apartment. When we finished our pages we took them to her mom to show them. My friend was praised for staying in the lines and coloring all in the same direction. I, was not. I’m pretty sure this is part of my inner critic, and one that I listen to much more frequently than I care to admit. However as I colored this morning I realized that I color in all directions with intent and for the purposes of shading, and defining texture. I use this same approach with quilt making, I’ll stitch in whatever direction necessary to get close to what I see in my head. Admittedly the quilts represent some flash of an image, and I they’re not identical twinsies.
Coloring inside the lines, with the movement going all in the same direction is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It presents a neat and tidy look, and it does take a while to get to that level of coloring. It teaches control (in a good way) as we learn to direct our work, and get acquainted with how our hands, eyes, brain and choices work together. Also it shows us how to work within a framework, in a sense complementing the person who created the work, a silent partnership if you will. Their design our color choices.
Quilting in one sense follows this same path wherein we (frequently) being coloring in someone else’s lines. This is a good place to begin as we encounter the complexities and myriad of decisions we get to choose from in quilt making. The framework is a good place to begin and for some it is a good place to stay because there is great beauty in this. Please allow me to take a moment and gush over quilters who make for the sheer pleasure of making and giving gifts! You are a treasure and a delight.
There is a moment when we begin to realize that in order to direct the eye towards a feature in our work that coloring in multi directions actually makes sense. This multi-directional quilting (coloring) gives depth and dimension to our quilts, adding more textural elements. We begin to experiment, and ask “what if” in a new way that offers us the opportunity to explore new to us color, thread weight and background choices. The lines on a quilt block become part of the overall look of the piece, we can quilt over lines, change thread color on a whim, and dig into the work of taking our quilts in a new-to-us direction.
Just like coloring in the lines with the most obvious of choices prepared the foundation for the pages we were coloring, the work we did making quilts from other quilters patterns laid the foundation that led us to making our own choices.
I will add here that sometimes it’s good to go back and work within the frame work of less complex patterns, with complementary quilting and color in the lines so to speak. Sometimes our brains need a rest from the day to day stuff, giving us the opportunity to passively think about what’s coming next rather than racking our brain knowing something is right there for us to do.
I will share student work soonish.
Over the last several months in the big preparation for Craft Napa we teachers were meeting as we could to talk shop, needed equipment, what might work for us, and doing some question asking and problems solving. for the most part I listened, purchased new equipment and listened some more. Working on both the class PowerPoint and deciding what I needed. The last day we met I got a big, big tip that made a huge difference for me. Sarah Bond shared where she placed her phone for students to see her stitch. There were a lot more tips but for this free-motion machine quilting teacher but the phone thing helped me do the thing I do, show my students how to stitch motifs and further watch one big old mess happen and the problem solving that went with it. HA.
Teaching at Craft Napa is one of those long term goals realized and I seriously didn’t want to mess this up. You know how there are people in life you don’t want to disappoint? Pokey is one of them for me, in a good way. I knew full well that for myself I wanted to give my students all I could. And you know what it worked. At the end of February I’m going to make the video I made for my students public. This isn’t the class it was part of the prep. After February I’m happy to do this class for your guild, shop, or group.
This class too has given me something I needed to update my class offerings. There will be changes over the next few weeks and then I’ll share the page when it’s complete.