My father used to say if there was a flat surface I would find something to put on it. At the time I rejected that thought and those words, but it proved to be prophetic. I am a piler.
I just cleared off my worktable yet again. I purchased fabric last week certainly not because I needed it but because I wanted it. I bought 25% off Christmas fabrics. That was fortunate because I needed reds in more of a variety and Christmas is all about reds. I also bought solids. I think that I don’t sew with solid colored fabrics but when I am looking for them they are gone — must be Gremlins.
So I bought fabric. It took three loads to wash it all. I couldn’t wash the reds with the blues, I might end up with a shade of purple or something motley that I didn’t want like the time my mother forgot my new royal blue slacks were in the washing machine and she threw bleach and her whites on top of them. This was long before tie dye or I could have been a trendsetter.
I stuck with clearing off my work table much as I hate that job. I moved this from here to there, and that from there to here. I opened drawers and tucked angel’s wings (organdy) inside. I needed a plastic bin, but they were all full. Which one has the least? I opened it to find several unfinished projects — more WIPs. Do I finish them or find them a new home? I got to the stack of washed fabric? Do I iron it now, or wait until I use it in a project? If I iron it now I will never finish here. I had just emptied a laundry basket. I folded all the fabrics and gave them to the laundry basket.
I remember when Fat Quarters first appeared in a small basket in the corner of the fabric bolts. I eyed these with great intrepidation — what do you do with those? I promised myself I would not buy these — all my resistance broke down when I needed a certain fabric that I found had been cut into Fat Quarters. The good thing about Fat Quarters is the immediate variety available for only a few dollars.
I’m still working on reorganizing the space. Some things do not change though. When I was a kid I fell in love with pegboard. So it was only logical that one of the few walls in my workroom would be a pegboard.
This is also where I keep my embroidery – quilting frames. I still love hand-quilting some of my quilts. I also hang scissors and cutting grids here. When I do that I know I will be able to find them later.
I wanted open shelves to hold fabric. I didn’t want this many. Husband got out his calculator and measure the fabric measuring all the stacks. He informed me I would fill them and maybe more. Notice Riley really enjoyed them immediately.
There is a difference between being blocked and being in a rut. When I’m blocked I have no momentum, I flat out lack desire am just not interested or motivated. Is there a way to get beyond this? To solve this I go and sit at my work table in front of my sewing machine and be here for 15 minutes. I tell myself it will just be for 15 minutes. Since I am staring at my machine, I think I will wind some bobbins. I can always use bobbins in neutral colors.
So I begin pulling empty bobbins which I buy at least 20 at a time. It starts ecru, tan, light gray and dark gray threads I by on large spools. If I am not making clothes or doing top stitching I use basic colors. I’ll wind about four of each. It is such a pain to have to stop in the middle of a project to wind bobbins when you run out. Or if you are machine quilting it is a bigger pain.
Once the bobbins are wound I am ready for something else. Once you begin, the flow has started. If bobbins aren’t enough to get the juices flowing I like to fold fabric. The colors inspire me to start mixing and matching fabrics.
Come back we’ll talk about fabric tomorrow.
Years ago I sat at the Old Town Mexican café with Libby Leman talking about making quilts. She said so many times we thing we are really “in the groove” we are making quilts and having a good time. But are we in a groove or are we in a rut? There is a tendency when we are artists to make the same thing over and over, perhaps it’s a Log Cabin quilt. Years pass and we are still making the same quilt, just in a different color. Are we moving forward, or are we standing still?
I’ve found myself sorting and organizing but not doing much else. My motor is running and my wheels are spinning but I am getting no where fast. I tell myself, “Today I am going to . . . .” and I start shuffling fabric from here to there and there is no action behind my movements. At the end of the day all I have is a bigger pile and nothing accomplished.
I did make a list of all the work I have “in progress” truth is, seeing that on paper was very impressive. I have managed to finish a few of the smaller works, but not the quilts. It’s a rut when you find yourself annoying friends and frustrating yourself. The challenge isn’t there. You feel that the world is moving past you. You aren’t excited about getting up in the morning and working in your studio.
Did you start this project with all the best intentions and somewhere it lost its steam? Was it a bad idea to start to begin with? Maybe the timing was bad, you didn’t allow enough time to meet the deadline? Are circumstances conspiring against you? Maybe the rut is caused by being too technical, what you thought was a good idea and now it isn’t. This can happen in a lot of areas of our lives, not just with our artwork.
Maybe what you liked last year, five years ago, or more is not you today. Your color preferences are different. It’s time to change it up, go on a creative date with yours. Go to a botanical park, an art gallery, even a movie or buy some upbeat music. Buy a new box of 64 crayons. You may not be as prolific as you were 10 years ago and that is bothering you. Stamina does diminish. Try getting together with younger people, buy some blank paper and share your crayons. Don’t over analyze, don’t question your inability to get out of the rut. If you are in a rut question everything but the rut.
Best to you,