Archive for the 'creativity' Category

Fortune & the Prepared

I’ve always believed that if you do what you love with all your heart, you will find a way to make a living at it; the universe will provide. Last week, when Paulette and I were shopping (Shoes! Fabric! Wine! Furniture!), we stumbled across a serendipitous story of the universe doing exactly that.

When we walked into the the Gathering Fabric quilt store in Woodinville, we found some really gorgeous fabric neither of us had ever seen before. The designer, Julie Paschkis, had recently spent some time at the store and her story was fascinating.

Paschkis had been an artist and a children’s book illustrator for much of her career when one of the founders of In the Beginning Fabrics, an artisan fabric line, called her out of the blue and asked if she’d ever considered designing fabric.

Her response? “This is the call I’ve been waiting for all my life!” Or something to that effect. If she’d been recounting that response to a publisher, not a fabric store owner, her take on that might have been a bit different. ;) Still, it was a heartening story of creative success.

Fortune favors the prepared. If a gallery or a boutique saw some of my metalsmithing, or a publisher saw a snippet of my writing, and said “I love it, I want more!” I’d be stuck. I am NOT prepared for the universe to drop fortune in my lap right now. Are you?

I think I need to work on that.

Posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 by Jeri
Under: creativity, inspiration, quilting | 3 Comments »

The Good Girl

I learned to be a good girl early in life. When I took care of everyone else, didn’t rock the boat, followed all the rules and met my parents’ high standards, I stayed out of trouble and earned the occasional grudging nod of acceptance.

I got married a couple of months after college and settled down. I was a good wife, supportive and enabling, tolerating it all and cleaning up messes as soon as they were made. I earned a good living and used it to support the family.

I had my first baby three years after the wedding, and my second three years after that, both on schedule. I was a devoted mom, putting my kids first and working long hours to both support them and spend quality time with them.

I finally divorced my ex-husband after nine years of his compulsive financial irresponsibility, not for myself, but when I began to feel my children’s safety and security were threatened by it. It cost me my faith.

A couple of years later I married Bryan, who I adored and tried to be an exemplary wife to. He was conservative, responsible, kind and loving and I tried to take care of him and the boys in every way. I was a good wife and mom, I had a good job, and constantly strove to be conservative and respectable and not rock the boat.

Then a year ago I lost Bryan, and with it a large part of my identity – wife. Loved one. Partner in a stable, responsible home. Instead, I had to try to figure out who I was, when I wasn’t busy taking care of everyone and trying to meet everyone else’s standards as wife, mom, employee, daughter.

Who am I? I am still a caretaking, nurturing type – that hasn’t changed. There’s nothing I like better than truly helping someone, preferably behind the scenes, with a hug, some long term support, an act of love, or anonymous generosity.

I am not, however, quite the good girl I’ve tried to pass myself off as for so many years. I do like to rock the boat. I firmly believe that “What the hell?” is often the right decision, and that I would, indeed, like to give ‘em something to talk about. I’m creative and artistic. Passionate about what I believe in. Very geeky. A little bit edgy and nihilistic. And more than a little bit hedonistic.

In the process of growing up a little this past year, I got healthier and set some interesting fitness goals. I changed the way I dress, a little curvier and punkier, becoming a shoe & jewelry addict in the process. I pierced my ears a few times and now wear colorful jewelry. I got my first tattoo, an ankle bracelet memorial.

The tattoo, in particular, is an interesting rejection of the good girl ethos. When I grew up, only sailors and bikers had tattoos. They were just not commonly worn, especially by women. Now, of course, for younger generations, body modification is a frequent rite of passage. As an artist, as a bit of a rebel, as a woman seeking beauty and meaning in my life, the act of permanently inking my skin with something significant is an important freedom for me.

So, here’s to shedding the old, ill-fitting good girl skin and finding one that fits better! I wish all of you a similar epiphany on your journey.

Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: creativity, health, rant | 10 Comments »

Quilting Project In Progress

I am not an experienced or diligent quilter, rather, I’m a total dilettante with some basic art & design training background.

This fall I decided I wanted to make a fabric art/quilted wall hanging for over my fireplace because I couldn’t find one I wanted. It had to be attractive, but relatively easy. After lots of looking at designs, I chose the below one, from an excellent book, Color: The Quilter’s Guide, by Christine Barnes.

Original Quilt Design

I decided to do it on a much smaller, wall-hanging scale, and had help analyzing the design and selecting the fabrics. Still, I screwed up – but I’m going to share that with y’all, so you can learn from a newbie’s design mistakes.

I liked the asymmetrical setting, the broken wall, on the original design. I liked the way it popped and combined strip quilting with crazy quilting. I didn’t care so much for the plain brown setting fabric, nor for the blue/brown combination. I also like pattern – even subtle pattern that reads as solid from a distance – so I was determined to add my own spin on the design.

We figured we needed a range of dark fabrics for the crazy quilt blocks, light & bright fabrics for the intervening strips, and a near-solid for the backing.

That’s what I did – but my end result was far too *busy* – colorful, heavily patterned, and middle-value. Below are pictures of the finished crazy quilt strips (I cheated and used a technique called “crazy 9-patch”) and the fabric I had selected for the strips & backing. It just plain doesn’t work together.

Crazy 9 Patch Strips
Strip & Backing Fabric

The burgundy/brown/gold scheme of the crazy 9-patch squares looks like a totally different quilt from the green and orange backing fabric.

What I need to do from here, I think, is shop. Isn’t that the answer to everything? Each individual set works well on its own, just not together. The crazy 9-patch strips would work fine with more neutral, earth-toned solid, light-valued strip fabric setting them off. And the green/orange fabrics would be very pretty as setting and strip separators for calmer, sunny, neutral quilt blocks.

What did work well was the amazing antique Singer Featherweight on long-term, permanent loan to me from my wonderful mother. After all these decades – it was probably made before WWII – it still ticks along like clockwork and made stitching up the first section of this project a breeze.

Singer Featherweight

Posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: creativity, quilting | 5 Comments »

Irresolute Year

Last year I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. The year before that I made some non-resolutions. How’d I do with those, over the course of the last two years?

  1. Go to the theater and see some good shows. It doesn’t have to be a Vegas-only experience!
    FAIL. Although Cats, Rent, Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked are all coming to Seattle next year, so I have lots of opportunity coming up.

  2. Get a pedicure once a month even in winter – and splurge on the extended foot massage.

  3. Listen to new music every month.
    I did this, actually, with the help of iTunes and exposure to new stuff via Wii Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

  4. Spend less time at work and more time with friends and family.
    Epic FAIL. Sigh. A couple of colleagues and I are supporting each other on this in 2009.

  5. Do something creative every week just for the joy of it, e.g. make jewelry, write, paint, garden, do a home project, or a web project.
    FAIL. But I did complete NaNoWriMo again. :)

  6. Take more naps.
    FAIL. I hardly took any naps last year, although I’ve done a bit more in the last month.

One out of six is 16%, not exactly stellar performance. Apparently even non-resolutions are not for me.

Happy New Year!

Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: creativity, downshifting, work | 3 Comments »

Censorship: Justifiable?

Is censorship ever justifiable?

I suppose the answer to that question depends on your perspective, whether you’re the censorer or the censoree.

My son is writing a paper on censorship – Merriam Webster defines it: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable . We also talked about what it is not – media bias, religious freedom, children’s rights, copyright or criminal law issues. Janiece had a good post on the subject today, too.

Tonight, at the dinner table we talked about some fairly major examples of controversial, often-criticized censorship.

  • The banning of books from our curriculum, school & public libraries.
  • China’s harsh censorship and prohibition of external information, including the Internet, print, video and audio media.
  • The Islamic world’s prohibition of media, styles, and cultural influences that are considered to be Western.
  • The MPAA, PMRC and ESR ratings and restrictions on movie, record and game content.
  • The FCC’s restrictions and penalties on tv and radio content deemed obscene or objectionable.
  • Private or public funding tied to restrictions on public information, for example, sex education in the schools.

We also discussed whether there were any instances where censorship was perhaps appropriate and justifiable in western culture. The only examples I could think of were:

  • The revelation of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity by White House staffer Lewis Libby.
  • Restrictions and penalties for volatile or harassing speech in the workplace.
  • Restrictions, controls and removal of speech in a privately-owned forum. See my blog comment terms and conditions for an example.

Can you think of examples of justifiable or acceptable censorship in today’s society? No extra points for actually requiring me to apply censorship according to above terms and conditions. ;)

Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: creativity, education, Politics | 4 Comments »