Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weaving Wonders and Why I Must Try It

I have decided I would like to try weaving. My father had an upright rug loom that he experimented with when I was in high school, and I recall watching him pass the weaving shuttles back and forth while listening to classical music. Some of the textiles in the Denver Art Museum's collection are extraordinary examples of Navajo Designs from 1840-1870 that took my breath away! Imagining the functional uses of these garments and home furnishings that were handcrafted by women from naturally dyed fibers, and yet today look as vibrant as ever, as well as quite sophisticated in design, is inspirational to me.

The weaving community in Colorado is an energetic group with many people who make incredible textiles. I have attended a few of the Rocky Mountain Weavers' Guild Annual Fiber Art Sales, and am looking forward to the next one at the Englewood Civic Center October 24-26th.

The best place for me to take weaving classes, based on where I live, would have to be Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. They are preparing for their 21st birthday as one of Colorado's premiere fiber arts destinations. This will be a wonderful wintertime activity for me!

The kind of loom I want to use is a rug or tapestry loom, much like the one my dad had many years ago. I think I will start my weaving exploration doing tapestry weaving with David Johnson. Perhaps I will work my way into other kinds of weaving as well.

Ulrika Leander, Royal Oak, Maryland
I am not sure yet how weaving tapestries will become a part of my art career as a fiber folk artist! In my Nestle And Soar studio I am beginning to move away from pillows and spending much more of my time creating one-of-a-kind fiber art for the wall. Perhaps the foundation of a new handcrafted needle felt series will be hand-loomed tapestry? If you know of a fiber artist who is already combining these two specific mediums, I'd love to hear about him or her! For today, I'd like to share with you a tapestry weaver whose artistry I admire. Ulrika Leander of Contemporary Tapestry Weaving creates fiber art that is quilterly and colorful--I love her work!

Weaving is a wonderful fiber art and I am looking forward to this next part of my artistic adventure. What have you planned for your next adventure?

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are you Well Educated? What are you Afraid to Learn?

Garden of Eden, by Georgianne Holland

Fiber artists are often educated in fields other than art. Like actors and artists of all mediums, our creative output as artists is often supplemented by another field -- endeavors often unrelated to the fiber art we create. Singers wait tables in fancy restaurants to pay the rent, photographers teach history in high school, and so on it goes. Some of these supplemental jobs require a huge investment in education and others do not. What is your educational status? Do you consider yourself to be well educated in the field that is your primary source of income? Are you a creative entrepreneur who considers herself to be self-taught? Are there lifestyle situations you face today that, if time allowed, you'd benefit from some additional expertise?

Creative people like me are often self-taught through many hours of experimentation, trial and error, and good old book-learning. The textile and fiber arts communities of Great Britain are inspirational to me because they have many influential college and guild programs to help fiber enthusiasts become professional practitioners. In the spirit of that example, I recently researched where in Colorado a fiber folk artist like myself (self-taught), could pursue a college-level education. Have you ever looked into this option for yourself?

Artist Tom Lundberg is my new fascination on this topic of higher education and fiber art. Since 1979, Tom has been a Professor in the Department of Art at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He is the coordinator of the BFA and MFA programs in fiber media. It makes my heart sing to think of a program such as this in a neighboring town! Tom has accomplished what so many of my contemporaries dream about: he has established himself as an artist who uses embroidery as his medium. Extensively exhibited in solo shows and select international venues, this award-winning fiber artist is someone I study today as a source of inspiration.

What do you study today? Are you a lifetime student, or did you hang up your number 2 pencil and notebook years and years ago?

There are so many topics a creative person can study and add to the ways in which we are educated. I recently heard about Babs Didner in Texas. "Babs Didner never learned how to cook. She grew up the youngest in a large family in which her mom and oldest sister ran the kitchen. 'I was always totally intimidated by cooking,' says Didner, 50, a school administrator in Austin, Texas, in a recent issue of Experience Life! Magazine. "My friend Michelle loves to cook, so we’d get together and she’d explain cooking basics to me while we fixed our food. Sometimes we’d follow recipes, but she knew how to cook without recipes, too, and she’d explain ways to do that, like how to thicken a mixture or what spices went with what type of food.”

I love this example of facing the fear of learning something creative and important like cooking healthy food. It has been said that cooking is the only art form that you consume. What have you been putting off as a new skill? Think about your circle of friends for a minute. Not everything you desire to learn requires enrollment in a bachelors' program in a university (however exciting that would be!). When I think about the wide variety of people I am happy to call friends, I know that there is boundless expertise and kindness they are willing to share. For instance, I have a great friend who is a professional photographer, and he has tirelessly helped me understand how to improve the photographs I use on my online Nestle And Soar shop. What could you teach a friend that would add to their success at home or on the job?

I am a strong believer in Adult Education. I didn't finish my college education until I was 39 years old, with a 15-year focus on raising my children in between my first attempt and my final diploma. I loved going to college with other adults who were on a mission to learn something important and knew exactly what field they wanted to master! And my continuing education continues. I am in the process of becoming an Integrated Health Coach, pursuing my education through the Institute of Integrated Nutrition in New York. This year-long program will enable to me to add Health Coaching to my art practice here in Colorado and share my message of a vibrant, balanced lifestyle to new friends and old. So like Tom Lundberg, I will be an exhibited artist and helping folks learn at the same time...it is a wonderful combination!

I would love to hear what area of expertise you are studying today! Please leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Organization for Fiber Artists and other Creative Entreprenuers: "ROCPAS"

Creative minds are not always organized. The creative types I know, including myself, are often seekers who look for pattern, color, inspiration and stimulation throughout their environment. Having multiple projects going at once is often the result of this seeking, experimental personality type, which doesn't exactly lend itself to tidiness.

So while creatively minded people are often in swirl of energy and excitement, there is also the very real need to be a responsible, career-focused professional...at least in my practice as an artist! If you pursue art for profit as I do, you may also need to go against type and spend at least some of your working hours taming the creative mess that is all around and about your creative space. I mean, where did I put those papers that I have to turn in to the museum shop next week? I'm sure they were put somewhere logical and safe...I just haven't seen them in awhile. Can you relate?

The Nestle And Soar business office, dusted and swept!
Here are a few of my favorite attempts in the past few months, along with the amazing inspiration I have pulled from others, as I endeavor to organize my life as a fiber artist. I offer these images with the hopes that you will share some of your best ideas and successes in this matter of Responsible, Orderly Conduct in the Pursuit of Artistic Success: ROCPAS. Like many things in life, it all begins with a dream.

The paperwork involved in running a small business doesn't always feel small -- it often feels overwhelming! Keeping my business papers organized is an ongoing endeavor around here.

Ideal fabric storage idea from Bee in My Bonnet

Like most fiber artists, handling fabric is a tactile joy for me! Even though it is fun to remind myself about all of the fantastic fabric I own and stockpile, I have never taken as much focused effort as the entrepreneur Lori Holt at Bee in My Bonnet. Her fabric stash makes my list of Responsible Orderly Conduct because it allows her to know exactly what her inventory of fabrics can yield in terms of quilted goodness. She probably doesn't have to buy fabric because she cannot find the fabric she thinks she bought 6 months ago. Has that ever happened to you?

Speaking of paperwork, I have this daydream that involves my family and how they would be able to look up details regarding our shared life paperwork without having to step into my studio, asking me to help them. In this daydream, no one begins a request with the dreaded, "Do you know where those forms are for that big important project we've been talking about?" I would rather just keep sewing and tell them to go look in the baby blue binder. Right?

This daydream remains a dream for me because I haven't made myself, or anyone else, work toward a sorted, labeled, updated binder system like the one I've found here. I do own a label making machine and a credit card for Office Max though, so I feel like this is a doable project. Someday.

My last organizational tool that seems to be working well here at Nestle And Soar is the use of compartmentalized sorting devices. In my studio, as well as in my home, I seem to have enough storage options. That being said, I still wasn't being organized about how stuff was placed inside of those drawers, closets and shelving units. I was using the "Jam it in Somewhere" technique, which isn't sustainable, and not all that helpful.

When I think about being a successful creative entrepreneur, I don't imagine myself having to hunt and dig through jumbled drawers to unearth the key ingredient for a custom fiber art piece I have agreed to make on a deadline. No, I more envision myself opening up a drawer organized like the one shown here, where compartments have been used to trap and keep the vintage buttons my client is counting on having used to embellish her four made-to-order decorative pillows. My creative work continues to be more like play when I don't have to go on an expedition to complete a simple task!

So how do you and I pull off all of this Creative Mess/Responsible Order balance? I would love to know what you think. Perhaps we give some of our good energy once a week to organizing specific parts of our creative space? Or perhaps we always use the inspiration of more organized people as our game plan? Or, maybe we make sure that one of our high-energy friends comes over to visit on a regular basis and we bribe her with food and free stuff to just save us from our disorganized selves? I think all of these techniques are helpful, and getting a little help is a good thing.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What Makes your To-Do List Today?

Lists, lists, lists! There are To-Do lists, Grocery lists, and Goal lists in front of me today. Last night while I should have been sleeping, I was writing in my head a list for next Thursday. When this happens to me, I scoot out of our bedroom and actually write the list on paper, hoping it will let my brain relax so that sleep can return. Are you a List Master, too?

When my work days as a fiber artist are in full-throttle, I truly count on my To-Do Lists. Writing down a plan for the day is a fantastic tool for a creative entrepreneur. When I formalize the cascading options, requests, and tasks for each day, I can hold myself accountable in specific ways, and that frees up space in every day for creativity. Having been self-employed for years now, this is one secret to my success!

A question I often ask myself is, "Should the task I'm thinking about be on today's list, or on the list of some future day?"

If you are a list-master, do you feel excited when you look at today's To-Do? Ideally, you should. I know there will be dreadful items on some lists, and my advice on those days is to tackle those items in your highest-energy part of the day. For me, that would be first thing in the morning, after my second cup of coffee. By then, the world has woken up and most folks are available by phone or email. Reaching out to others is often a component of key To-Do tasks. My philosophy regarding actions that are necessary but don't excite me is to get it done, cross it off, and the clear the way for your exciting tasks!

There is another benefit to be a list-maker. Knowing what you want to accomplish helps you say "No Thanks" to all of the rest! As your day unfolds, you may be asked to do something unexpected. Happens all the time to me. Or, as your day unfolds you may dream up a bold new action that sounds fantastic! Either of these additional items could distract you from your consciously written To-Do list for today. Here's what I do:
  • Take a pause
  • Take a breath
  • Make a decision
  • Write it down for today or say out loud "Not Today"

It is important to know what will make your list today as well as what will not. I am a people-pleasing person, so learning to gently say no to myself and others is a skill that is important to practice. It has been liberating for me to learn to say, "What you are asking of me won't fit on my list today. Can I get back to you about a future date?"

I love saying that!! Do you say that often enough?

Next on my list is going to the grocery store. That's another great kind of list to follow...as best as I can, anyway.

Thanks for stopping by,