Creating · This-and-That

Color, Venice and Valentino • This and That July 2021

“Fashion is not ‘art’, because the latter is sufficient in itself while the former always has a purpose, a function, a use. Recognizing the differences is the first step to instructing mutual listening, made up of curiosity, enthusiasm, and respect. This listening needs time, just like Haute Couture and ultimately also like art. In fact, the maturation of the project was slow, a rhythm perhaps unusual for our world but just and intimate for the world that I would like to.” -Pierpaolo Piccioli (from here)

And if you understood that, then you are more experienced than I in the language of haute couture–the clothing, the dresses, the fashion that is more concept than something you would hang in your closet. But just like the movie The Devil Wore Prada in that withering scene where Meryl Streep’s character critiques Ann Hamilton’s sweater, the fashion houses often tilt us to what’s coming in shape, in color and in what we’ll be wearing post-pandemic when we finally decide to crawl into stores and buy ourselves some clothes.

It’s also very likely that we’ll be seeing some influences on the colors we use in our quilts, or maybe even the shapes we’ll experiment with (if you are a half-way, non-traditional quilter). Or not.

So I was pretty amazed by the colors put together by the designer for Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, and while I can’t pretend to really absorb what he said (above), I do speak the language of color, and thought you might like to see some of his designs, shown recently in the magical city of Venice, Italy. The contrast between that very old city with its own recent struggles with over-tourism, pollution and dwindling residents is a perfect contrast and foil to the glamorous, hand-sewn clothing made with extraordinary precision with pricey fabrics.

As Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times wrote: “[The designer Piccioli] has been conversing with contemporary artists — about their work, sure, but mostly about life in general, process, emotion, what turns them on — thinking about how to integrate their points of commonality in cloth…The result — shown at sunset beneath the brick arches of the former shipbuilding yard of Venice, with water lapping at the edges of the runway…was as powerful an argument for the interconnectedness of time, human connection and creativity as anything fashion has produced. The lushness of Mr. Piccioli’s palette — as a designer, he is the best colorist since Yves Saint Laurent — was on full display; so was his throwaway elegance, and his generosity. Not just to his atelier (his show notes name-checked the individuals who sewed each garment [italics are mine]) but to the bodies that will wear the clothes.”

from here

So, what do I see?

In the above image, I see scale: large shapes on a larger garment, then those same large shapes on a more narrow profile of a dress. The designer plays with scale in many of his other pieces, using different shapes to emphasize different parts of the body, and different lines (like those flowing hats!).

I also see a lot of color blocking: large swaths of color against slivers of color (a bit of scale, again), causing each to accent the other. This collection is not about fussy little prints. Mostly I see lush, elegant and rich, deep colors:

palette generator from here

This palette is missing the mint of the shirt. Sure, it’s a metallic shimmer of color and hard to catch, but that really makes this grouping, in my mind.

In this one, the palette generator is capturing a lot of the background, but it’s that’s slice of bubble-gum pink against those deep coral trousers which really caught my eye. The grey isn’t those flat greys we are used to seeing in our quilting fabrics, but a soft mellow gray, warmed up slightly, but not heading towards taupe or green-gray — maybe a deep off-white?

Orchid appears to be heading our way, but a vivid hue of that color, especially when paired with bright jungle green.

While the palette generator captured a lot of the background (I don’t see that pinky brown anywhere on the model), this palette is a “be-still-my-heart” series of shades for me as I love aqua blue. But it’s a new take on that–a refreshing deeper shade.

Now to shift gears from haute couture to the nuts and bolts of my life lately:

How about some velcro bolts? This is the boot they gave me to wear while my ankle heals. I hate it for a variety of good and not-so-good reasons (would it kill them to add some color?). The doctor okayed my getting around the house without it, so I’ve just decided to ace-bandage-wrap my ankle for protection, stay off it, and stay home. What’s four more weeks of pandemic quarantine?

Very proud of this: I drew the spools up by hand. Well, digital hand. Yes, it’s in my favorite color (aqua blue). I have found lately that getting the hang of a few tools in my Affinity Designer has opened up new worlds for me in terms of satisfaction with my work; it was a bit of a struggle at first, but a bit smoother sailing now. And why did I make these?

Pattern Shop Refresh!

I didn’t like the nuts-and-boltsy (notice how I’m stretching the metaphor) look of BEFORE as it was too chunky and disparate. I also wanted something as well that would indicate degree of difficulty at a glance. So, I made spools. And I like how the shop looks now.

This is the new display pattern front. I still have a few things left to do, but have finished most. PayHip upgraded some of their marketplace tools, so I thought it was a good time for me to fuss around a bit, too.

Quilting SeaDepths (a variation of Azulejos) in spurts, while listening to this:

I like how the themes overlap: the ocean in Harper’s book with the theme of SeaDepths on my newest quilt. I can hardly wait to go upstairs and quilt. I’ve listened to two of her others: The Dry and The Lost Man and loved both of those. I will reserve my review on this until I finish it (5 more hours). While I listen, I think of Susan of PatchNPlay, and her trip to Tasmania. I can’t wait to show off the backing I chose for this quilt.

Lastly, there seems to something in the zeitgeist here, but truth! Patti chose this without knowing all the other watery connections I’ve just mentioned. If you jump on this link, you can see a lot of the blocks she’s received, all laid out together. I love how nice they all play together.

And that’s it for today. Happy July, Happy Not Wearing My Boot, and Happy Quilting!

Creating

First Monday Quilt

In December 2019, a few young friends had wanted to learn to quilt, so we met together in a group we called First Monday Sew-days. It was a short-lived enterprise, collapsing into covid in March 2020, but I did make a series of handouts for these beginners, and taught a mini-tutorial about that technique. Above is Square in a Square for April 2020.

The free monthly handouts in downloadable PDF form can be found under the First Monday Sew-days post in the drop-down menu of Past Endeavors (I hide all a lot of my stuff in drop-down menus). I got out these blocks because of this post by ailish on Instagram, where she puts up two wonderful quilts of birds (seen below) and acknowledges that she is stuck. Stuck? Oh, boy, do I know stuck.

She had many great comments, if you want to see what they were. And her feed has many great quilts, but it was the specificity of these quilts at this time that caught my eye.

I’d been browsing Creative Block, a compilation of artist interviews, and found Jessica Bell’s observation: “When I can’t make progress, it is often because I am mentally scattered; this happens when I am overcommitted or have a schedule without any breathing room in it. I have to have a lot of space and quiet in my head to think my best thoughts. An artist I admire told me a few years ago that ‘you can’t make art in the cracks.’ ” from Danielle Krysa’s book of artist compilations, Creative Block

So, I read through all my First Monday Sew-day tipsheets, and then went through my Orphan Blocks bin, looking for all my samples that I’d used in teaching those beginning quilters. When I didn’t find particular blocks in the fabrics above, I made more.

Every block in blue and yellow from my Orphan Bin, plus the ones I made today. The golden yellow with the little suns on it was a once-in-a-lifetime perfect color and print from Sherri and Chelsi, from their fabric line Clover Hollow some months ago. I bought three yards, and have gone through one already. The other blues are a collected bunch, and I use the yardstick of “does it look like blue painters tape?” to gauge the color.

Collection, culled. I have more to make and more to arrange, but I’ll keep trying. Now, back to stuck.

In a special section, Poets and Writers collected new poets giving advice to each other. I read through a lot of what they had to say, and copied it down into a little repeated calendar entry on my iPhone and I like looking at what they have to say, even though the medium in which they create is different. However, we both strive to create. I don’t know if you’ll find this interesting, but I’ve selected a few of their quotes, about dealing with the creative rut:

Tiana Clark: Trust your imagination. Be on your own timetable. Some advice from David Baker: “There is no hurry.” Some advice from my therapist: “Everything you want is not upstream.” Redefine what success means to you.

Jenny Xie: Since I don’t have the inclination to [create] in small bursts, I need to be intentional about setting aside at least a few hours or half a day. This means if I mark off time to write, I can’t go off to run small errands, agree to coffee with friends or acquaintances, sit in front of my phone answering text messages and e-mails, or distract myself by chipping away at random tasks.

Emily Skillings: The painter Jane Freilicher put it best, I think, when she said, “To strain after innovation, to worry about being on ‘the cutting edge’, reflects a concern for a place in history or one’s career rather than the authenticity of one’s painting.” There’s also, I think, a quieter quote somewhere about her letting go of the pressure to be innovative, and that she felt she could really paint after that, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

Anthony Cody: [If I am stuck,] I walk away. The internet, the algorithm, and capitalism want us to go as hard as we can until we are spent, only to start over again. If I can’t push a project any further, I change mediums or do something else entirely. I write inside a phone book. I break down cardboard and sketch and build. [Creating] is often more about listening than it is about the act of [creating], so if [it] ceases, I know it is time I stop what I am attempting, listen more, and reimagine the path.

Fatimah Asghar: Writer’s block remedy: I take a break. I think that if you bang your head against the wall trying to create, you’re going to resent the process of creation. Usually when you reach an impasse it’s a signal to move on to another thing. Maybe you haven’t slept in a while. Maybe you need some time to ponder, to just stare at the wall. Maybe you need to live, truly be alive for a little and not near a computer. Maybe you need to read, see, watch—to refill your well.

Recently we had a chance to escape for a couple of days to a beach not far from our house, and I took this project with me. The surprise gift of this hotel was they had a rooftop deck with glass railings, so when we weren’t walking near the ocean, I could see it as I sat and stitched. I’ve been working on this for some time, but like so many of the poets, I’m content to let it come along at its own pace.

early days, with my granddaughter

I began this almost exactly two years ago, and wrote at the bottom of the post: “see you in two years!”

Now I’m thinking, it might be three, or even four years, and at this point I’m still not sure I like it, but I drag it out every once in a while and add a row or a few red centers. It’s good for taking on car trips and for sitting out on fourth-floor sun decks as I listen to the ocean and feel the cool air. It’s good for reminding me that not everything goes according to plan. But taking some advice from the poet Tiana Clark, above, I remind myself: I’m on my own timetable.

Happy Quilting!

Covid-19 Times · Creating

Renewal

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” TS Eliot, Four Quartets

Where I started this section. The journey for the Leaves Border:

I thought I could appliqué each leaf onto a block, then sew the blocks together. Soon, I realized that sewing them together in a strip, then appliquéing them in a row was more efficient. Note the blue border separating the sections.

I used the draw-shape-on-freezer-paper-then-remove-just-before-the-end approach. I learned this when doing my Elizabeth’s Lollypop Trees, and have kind of kept at it.

When we get into a situation that feels uncertain, most of us will immediately try to get to a place of certainty. Leo Babauta

Beauty Pose in the Garden One Morning

I brought it back in from the garden, but somehow I left my creative brain out there in the weeds. Seriously, this is all I did for a couple of days. Tacked up first one fabric, then another. Not liking much. I tried to write a blog post, but there was nada – zip – zilch. Instead I spent my time converting an old blog of mine to a book (I’ll let you know how it goes–book should be here next week).

I had attended (virtually) the MWEG Conference this past weekend, filled with inspirational women speakers, and this let me leave my self-enforced creative rigors for a while. One speaker mentioned a variation of my oft-quoted line about how perfection is the enemy of the good. She put it this way: “Perfection is the law of diminishing returns.” In thinking about this, I finally just chose the upper right pink fabric, cut it, and sewed it on. At some point I just have to get past the anguish of too many choices, grasping for perfection.

How could there be any perfect to long for, when it hasn’t been created yet and doesn’t know what it is?

I tried out multiple variations of the outside two-triangles block, unpicking them apart, then re-sewing in different combinations. I noticed that this past two months, I had put in online orders a few different times to different online shops, both ETSY and regular places. Most weren’t large orders, but I wondered if my “stuck-ness” both in quilting and the restrictions in life and trying lose some of my Covid-19 pounds caused me expand out this way: retail therapy. (Don’t worry, dear, we haven’t broken the bank.) I think it’s also a reaction to this past year of trying bravely to stay sane, seek new quilty horizons, dodge dysthymia, and to Keep Calm and Carry On.

With Sprinkles on Top, by Alicia Jacobs Dujets

But the funny thing was, in all those incoming fabrics, only one made it into this quilt. All the rest of this is from my stash in before all those packages arrived–a true scrappy quilt that hopefully doesn’t look like all those “scrappy quilts” that I see in the magazines. Hopefully, it looks more coordinated.

So this is where I ended a couple of days ago.

I started working on the outside border.

The entertainment of watching someone else’s ship get stuck proved a great distraction. I am also familiar with the back-up of tasks behind one greatly-stuck task, and thought it was a great metaphor for so much of my designing and quilting. Like the Ever Given, I was also stymied, and thought that maybe that terrific orange border was the final part of the quilt? I don’t really know, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I made some sample blocks while listening to this book:

I did some quilting (cream-colored thread) on my quilt I Hear America Singing.

After stewing a while, I went to Affinity Designer and re-drew my ideas for that outside border. We’ll see what happens next.

This week is Easter weekend. But before I go there, I want to go back a few days.

Last week, we went to church for the first time in a year. we were all socially distanced, with masks on. Before the meeting started, I went up closer to take a photo of our new organ (not yet quite finished) and to soak up the feeling of being in a familiar place after so long. However, given my year of nearly total confinement, I was a nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, nodded to people, then skedaddled outside after the service was over. It may take me a few times to acquaint myself with crowds, and places, and more than a few people in my bubble. We are still Zooming our services for those who can’t yet come and participate.

Boy did I love this story that came in from the Washington Post Instagram Account. This is La Verne Ford Wimberly of Tulsa, who has been going to church virtually. The “82-year-old retired educator decks herself out head to toe every Sunday, then — to the delight of fellow parishioners at Metropolitan Baptist Church — posts a selfie on Facebook after the service. Since March 29, 2020, she has taken photos of herself from her living room in 53 different color-coordinated outfits. She hasn’t decided what she’ll be wearing this Easter Sunday, but those who know Wimberly said the odds are good that she’ll make a big splash.”

UPDATE: In the video the local TV station made about her, it shows many of her photos, with all her wonderful hats.

I love these Star of Bethlehem succulent plants; this is my Easter blossom for you.

Remember the reason why there is Easter, pause for a moment, and come back to the tasks of life, renewed.

Happy Easter.

Creating · EPP · eQuilt Universe · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

A Bit Frosty this January

1shinecirclesquilt

Remember this?

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

And this?

This is Shine: The Circles Quilt, and I started it as a English Paper Piecing project, putting the free patterns up on this blog, beginning in 2014.  I also have a page dedicated to these blocks, giving out the patterns and tutorials for each, until the last four (which used to live on Craftsy, but that’s another blog post.  Coming soon.)

And then this new year, I opened up mail from one of my heros, Becky Goldsmith to see this:

Goldsmith Circles1.jpg

and this:

Goldsmith Circles2.jpg

all advertising her newest endeavor.

As near as I can tell, she has no idea I exist.  She is not copying me.  She has fancy borders, and has done the quilt twice.  I think this is a classic example of what the German’s call “der Zeitgeist” or “the trend of thought and feeling in a period.

But I am a bit frosty about this, for one reason only: she has a megaphone, and I have only this blog.  I used to have a blog and a Craftsy site (!), but I guess I also have Instagram, which might have a zillion followers if I unblocked all those creepy men or Quilt-Content-Thieves.  But is it really “frosty” or is it more that I’m jealous?  I think the latter. 

I still have my Shine patterns here, but really, I have to yield the selling floor to the firepower of Piece O’Cake Designs, in making a quilt with a grid of paper-pieced circles based on the traditional style of a compass rose.  I don’t have her readership, her TV show appearances, her mailing list.  She’s a tsunami.  I’m a wobbly sprinkler on the back lawn.  To be truthful, Goldsmith earned her tsunami status through hard work over many years; again, she did NOT copy me at all. I have all of her books, and have made a couple of her designs, so you do have to put me in the category of Total Admirer.  But that’s not the issue here.

My takeaway: when quilters come up with designs similar to one another, it’s not always a copyright issue, which is the usual scream that emmanates from the collective online voice.  Sometimes it just is the Zeitgeist.

Sometimes the Sew Together Bag is merely a copy of her grandfather’s toiletries kit (this fact mentioned to me while we were standing in line together at Market in Salt Lake City), and my Mini-Sew Together Bag was a version I was working on when I didn’t like the bulk of the original, and my Smile Bag came before byAnnie’s Clam Up bag and perhaps we were both inspired by the bag for the First Class United Airlines customers, and perhaps they were inspired by some ancient Japanese zakka.  That’s how these things go.

Scream
Edvard Munch’s The Scream

 

 

 

Okay, I feel better now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates to original post are in black text.

Creating · Something to Think About

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Happy New Year 2019

That saying in the title is Welsh for Happy New Year, and one custom is that the children in old Welsh villages would “rush around the village visiting as many houses as possible to collect sweets and money. The visits had to be made before midday, so it was often a race against the clock!”  The gifts were called calennig, and often referred to a skewered apple that the children would carry around.

I have no gifts for you, other than myself.  But then you aren’t rushing around knocking on my door, either.

I have some new readers, and thought I’d re-introduce myself at this time of Happy Old Year Ending • Happy New Year.  (I first learned to say Happy Old Year ending from a well-traveled friend, who said it was from somewhere on the African continent, and although I’ve never been able to corroborate that, I still like the idea of being happy with an ending.)

I’m Elizabeth Eastmond and I am the sole writer of this blog.

 

I first began writing in 2007, sliding quilty posts in amongst my then regular blog, OccasionalPiece, which at this point, is resting (it’s been resting for several years).  The blog name, OccasionalPiece, morphed into OccasionalPiece~Quilt, then I dropped the tilde (~).  When I started trying to find a web address, I shortened it even further to OPQuilt, because who wants to try and spell Occasional or Piece?

Piece originated not in the term “piecing” but from the fact that at the time I started writing online, I was in Graduate School, getting my degree in Creative Writing.  We called our writings “pieces” as in a “short story piece” or “a piece of my novel.”  In my mind it expanded to include my cloth piecings, and any slice of my life–so that’s why you’ll see some travel, some family, current events, cooking, and yes, an occasional piece of writing.  Oh, and art.  We’ve got to have art!

NYC11_18_12c highline
Sculpture on the High Line; the birds perched there, but they are not a part of this piece of art

I keep a listing of my quilts–or as we say in Creative Writing, a catalogue of the body of my work–up above on 100 Quilts, 200 Quilts, and am starting on the 300 Quilts list.  Everything is linked, but not illustrated, and I’m sorry about that.  I would like to have a listing of photos, but that’s in my Someday category.

While it’s traditional on this week to do a year-end round-up of Quilts I’ve Made or lists of Hope I Finish These This Year, and while I love other people’s inventory, this year I found my own lists and write-ups pretty boring (really, can we stand one more look at Frivols?) except, perhaps, for the lovely one below, gifted at a new baby shower:

Deneese baby quilt

Personal stats: I have four lovely and clever children, eleven brilliant and handsome grandchildren, a perfectly amazing and wonderful husband. Our last family photo, since we are scatterered over four states was two years ago, and one was missing even then.  I like the word lovely and use it a lot. I’ve been divorced, remarried, had two major surgeries, a scattering of small ones, but consider myself healthy, and try always to follow my grandmother’s advice to keep my whines to myself, with the caveat that if something interrupts the output of quilting, I might put it up on this blog.  I make mistakes.  I cherish my faith and crave harmony.  I love going to quilt shows.  I like to sing, mostly to the stuff coming in off my playlist.  I am not totally in love with Smart Technology (still having fights with our new Christmas gift: “Siri, why are you singing in the middle of the night?”), but adore my mobile phone and its capabilities. I like to laugh, have a fairly honed capacity for snark, and cry in tender and emotional scenes in movies. In short, I am like you.  I am not like you.  But I hope to count myself as someone who writes something that you’d like to read.

But generally, this blog is about quilts.  Quilting.  Our quilting world.  Things that pertain to it.  It might be about a quilting personality, or quilting commerce.  It is not a newsletter.  It’s my calennig, my gift to you.

Happy Reading.

Happy New Year!

Classes · Creating · stitchery

Prepping my Crazy Cushion Class

Crazy Cushion Class_1

When I was visiting the South Bay Quilters, they had one class in their line-up which intrigued me: Becky McDaniels’ Crazy Cushions class.

Covet.

I found a guild closer to me offering it, and the class is this coming Saturday.

Crazy Cushion Class_2

But since I am not a quick foundation paper piecer, I knew I should get some done before the class.

Vellum Paper 2.jpg

This is what I use–it’s made by Neenah Paper.

Vellum Paper.jpg

I use a vellum paper, purchased at Kelly Paper, for my paper-piecing.  I can see through it, and it’s crisp, so it tears off easily. I know the price looks high, but there are 500 sheets in there, and the last ream I purchased lasted me almost 10 years.  If you go to order it online, use the number by the manager’s finger.

Crazy Cushion Class_3

Once side of the cushion is Pineapple, and the other is called Star Jasmine.  And then there are a lot of flying geese for the cushion sides.

Crazy Cushion Class_4

We’ve also been movingmovingmoving stuff around upstairs and my quilting machine has a new place to live for a while, until I can figure out how I want to configure my sewing room.

I remember corresponding with another quilter and when I told her my sewing room was about 9 feet by 10 feet, she wondered how I could ever sew in such a tiny space.  Well…it’s what I have.  I will confess to having spilled over into the guest room, where that Sweet Sixteen is currently residing.

Garage for RV.png

My daughter just built an RV garage onto their existing three-car garage, and I wouldn’t mind taking over that space, but she lives several hours from me, so (sadly) not feasible.  Besides I’d have to share it with their vehicles.  I guess I’m thrilled to have a room dedicated to my own messes, my own stuff, so it never occurred to me that my room was too small.

Works for me.  Now I’m off to sew about a bazillion tiny flying geese and sew them into strips.