Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Courage To Feel Creative

Scrap Basket Progress--
I was sure it was shaping up to be a wall hanging, but now?
I’m going to go waaay out on a limb here and start doing something a little different.  About once a week (probably on Wednesday's) I want to start doing a series of posts relating to the topic ‘The Courage To Feel Creative’. Primarily I intend for it to be a conversation directed towards those of us that feel, in particular, creatively challenged when it comes to making personalized quilts.
I am a self-taught quilter with nary a string of letters behind my name which can only mean this: I have no credentials. None, except for fact that I have several years of experience plodding through the creativity struggles! I often think of the ‘quilter unknown’ label that graces many a quilt in a museum or display. Obviously they (the unknown quilter) were not well-known or famous in any specific way or surely someone would have been able to place a name with the quilt that is now so obviously residing in place of honor. Our media environment seems to treat it as a fluke of sorts, like only the Kaffe Fasset’s (not really picking on him--his work is incredible) of this world could ever truly be thought of as ‘creative’ and they, the unknown quilter, just kind of snuck in somehow under the grid.

But what if we all have the potential to be creative, just like the unknown quilter? What if you and I had the ability to be A LOT MORE creative? Wouldn't that be amazing? Enough of this IF ONLY business. What's the worst that can happen if we try? A long time ago many of us gave up on the idea that the average, common Jane/Joe was capable of being truly, deep down creative and now it’s tough to win back the trust we no doubt once had in our very own instincts. Unfortunately, most of us will have to dig up some courage through baby steps, recognition of the process and a little familiarity with ourselves before we can prevail in the battle our-self.

I believe many of us have a serious (dare I say, burning?) drive to create something beautiful and still, we second guess ourselves, question our own ability to succeed and often, just plain don‘t know how go about the process. Stepping out of the prescribed box that we’re in is going to be scary and hard. People are going to know and talk and yes, maybe even critique our efforts as paltry.
So let's have that conversation about ‘The Courage To Feel Creative’ and discuss practicalities, thoughts, ideas and maybe even the occasional exercise thrown in to help clarify a point or two.  I don’t want to be like the privileged few who hoard their creativity to themselves like a rare diamond. It's not going to run low like coveted stock at the department store! And lets be clear about one other thing while we're at it: this is not a NEW conversation, merely a different approach from perhaps an unconventional perspective! You never know,  I might even manage to have some valuable insight that speaks clearly to you, the struggling quilter and at the same time, resonate loudly with you, the more experienced quilter.  Lol  One can only hope.

So.... BASIC CATEGORIES TO LOOK FOR IN THE WEEKS AHEAD if I can keep my nerve up!:

FABRIC LOVE: The foundation of quilting is simple. Loving fabric=the desire to make a bright shiny quilt.
NITTY GRITTY OF FABRIC: Details to think about. A good quilt will have depth, interest, movement and sparkle.  We hope.
INSPIRATION HOARDING: Why aren't we making what we really love already? Don’t be a sheep following the rest of the sheep off the cliff of commercialized trends.
TAKING CONTROL: Confidence is gained by taking control of our quilting and facing our fears. Don’t kid yourself, it takes both time and experience.
HABITS OF CREATIVITY:  Work, Do, Make, Create.  It’s a big one to tackle.
DIVERSIONS AND PLAY: Sometimes we gotta relax and clear our mind, it’s really just that simple.
The REWARDS:  Filling our time with beauty instead of garbage and of course, improved mental health in a crazy, fast paced world.  Why else would we possibly be quilting?

Expect me to jump around from topic to topic and then double back and dive in yet again. I’m pretty sure I'm looking forward to this in spite of the hives I probably broke out in the minute I hit the ‘publish’ button.*wink


  1. great topic. We all need to think out of the box in our creating at times. Yes start with someone elses pattern if you need to (like me) and then see if you can change some things in it to make it your creation - it is ok to combine two peoples work.
    Like you I don't have any credits to put behind my name - I have no published patterns, no articles, no books - just me and my quilts :)

  2. Oh Audrey, this is wonderful! Personally, I'm really looking forward to the 'inspiration hoarding' (and how clever of you to coin that phrase). I just love your writing style, and when I'm reading I feel like you are speaking to me, and totally understand this journey we are on. I'm really looking forward to more. Hope the hives aren't too bad! :)

  3. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts on the quilting process. I think I have always focused on the product (finished quilts) rather than the process. Lately I find myself more inspired by the process, or the play-time of quilt making. Unfortunately, I also feel my time constraints prevent me from fully engaging in playtime. Don't get me wrong, essentially any time spent quilting is play time and therefore therapeutic and invigorating, but I long for more time to just play with fabric and ideas. I'm trying to move in that direction, but sometimes I settle for imagination instead of concrete quilt making. Anyway, looking forward to more discussion on an inspiring topic!

  4. Interesting topic, and I am looking forward to reading more. On my makeshift design wall (a hanging sheet over a wardrobe door) I have the beginnings of the medallion quilt I started in Gwen Marston's class, and every time I start to sew a little more, that self-doubt creeps in. And I have to keeping reminding myself of Gwen's words, have a play, try different ideas and adjust your plan if need be, as you go along. But after following patterns for so long, to feel positive about the next step is a little difficult.

  5. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this. While not in any way creative in the Kaffe Fassett way (for example) I try to make MY quilts - not ones from kits or published patterns. It saddens me that so many quilters have no confidence to just push that boundary and make something which will give them more confidence and pleasure.

  6. I SO appreciate your courage to take on this whole topic of our own personal creativity, and not " following the sheep off the cliff." I think it's really about taming the inner critic. I look at many quilts made by women living in poverty for inspiration. They don't seem to be burdened by this critic. That's my goal, to be happy with what I make. Some quilts may be "better" than others in terms of design principles. But we would never critic a child's work that way. Our quilt-making is a time for us to play, not unlike children. Let's be kind and encouraging to ourselves in this process. I am so glad you've started this conversation!

  7. Quite a challenge! Don't really feel I ever think that much about it all.... It will be interesting to follow everyone's thoughts on this.

  8. Thanks very much for writing about creativity and sharing your thoughts with us. I'll also enjoy reading the comments, like today's reader comments. I've learned a bit about stepping out, trying new things, not being "afraid" since I turned to liberated quiltmaking ala Gwen Marston. My favorite way to make myself create my own style quilt is to work in the medallion style which started with a few photos in Gwen's book Liberated Quiltmaking II.
    I always enjoy your blog posts.

  9. Hi Audrey, I am so glad I found a little time to read blogs this morning. Thanks to Kathie for pointing me here. I always enjoy reading your post. They in themselves are so creative and inspiring. Your way of expressing yourself makes them such a joy to read.
    Not feeling very creative myself I am going to enjoy learning from your Wednesday posts.
    I believe one thing that would help me is not seeing the pattern in color. Once I see the makers color choices I find it hard to vary from them.

  10. I like your thoughts. It does take courage.

  11. Great post! Look forward to your posts on creativity.

  12. So glad you have the courage to take this on - looking forward to it.

  13. Sounds like a great idea, I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say. I think creativity is in all of us; to create something no one has ever seen before. . .

  14. yes, creativity does take courage and if we "dare" to do it, it's amazingly satisfying.
    thank you for leaving the kind comment on my blog. i'm so glad that i found you.
    as for your conversation on creativity, i'm looking forward to reading more.
    i find what Nifty Quilts had to say about quilts that have been made by women living in poverty interesting and have had similar thoughts. i wonder if when one has less to work with, one is forced to just go with it . . . in other words maybe it sorta chases the creator out of "the box" . . .
    if as quilters/artists we have to use what we can scrape together rather than trotting to the store to buy what we think we need we are automatically being more creative. a little creativity leads to more and before you know it we've jumped out of that box with flamboyant joy.


  15. I love it!
    I'll be reading so go for it.
    BTW ... love the basket.

  16. Looking forward to reading more on this topic, I've been thinking for some time that I need to stretch myself a bit and use some of my fabric hoard to make something more liberated and creative.

  17. Oh man- I am so looking forward to this! Sign me up! Take care, Byrd

  18. Oh My!! I am having Basket Love!!!! Love your colors!!

    Yes, I find some of your Topics to come will be most interesting and possible helpful. I enjoy reading the other commenters too!!

  19. Your basket piece is definitely creative. I like it so much! I look forward to seeing more creative topics and projects from you.


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