Wordplay 4: Gather

When I pulled gather out of the wordplay envelope that Heather Smith Jones sent me, I was excited.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I had this image in my head of a young girl gathering something - apples off a tree, flowers from a field - in her hands, holding it out to share with the world.  I wasn't sure how I could convey this.  I thought about photography and drawing and even painting.  I stewed on the word, rolled it around in my head and wondered about some of its synonyms like congregate and collect.

Life got busy and I put gather on a shelf, waiting for inspiration to strike.  The vision of the girl was fading.  I thought about it from time to time, but never put pen to paper or picked up my camera.  Suddenly, it was November and I had a deadline.  I took out a fresh piece of paper and my micron and started writing down everything I was thinking about this word.  About halfway through the page, it came to me:  I was gathering my thoughts.  And I knew exactly what to do.


I found a board left over from my recycling bin art project and painted it a neutral green.  I took my sheet of thoughts and ripped it up in to small bits which I decoupaged on to the board.


I used an aqua acrylic to paint the words and the spots, giving it a bit of a wash in places.


My only regret is that I didn't have more time.  I would have liked to add more layers to this piece.  I'm okay with it, though.  Wordplay is about inspiration and creative process and I am happy with where gather went. Who knows, I may be inspired to take it even further.

I have really enjoyed working on this project with Emily and Tracy.  They are incredibly talented ladies and I feel lucky that I got to do this with them.  I can't wait to see their interpretations of this word.  And thanks, too, to Heather (and Shari, Jen and Blair) for giving us a great starting point.  Isn't it amazing what can be done with a single word?

Wordplay 3: Cover

When I opened the wordplay envelope from Blair at the beginning of July, I was really excited to see the word she chose was cover.  There are so many possible interpretations and the first one that jumped into my mind was covers, as in bed covers.  Quickly followed by, "Oh crap.  I just made a quilt."  Strike that idea.  The remainder of my initial thoughts were phrases:  under cover and cover me, both of which have a strong police, spy connection.  It got me thinking that maybe I was watching a bit too much Law and Order.  Hmmm.


A few weeks later, I found myself thinking more about this word.  I worked it round and round in my head and on paper.  I can't tell you how many times I wrote the word and sketched ideas.  I thought about a photography project/flip book, but as my deadline drew closer, I knew that I needed something with more depth, something that I was more excited about.  My original thoughts kept coming back and so I embraced them.


I chose to work with "cover me", but not in the guns drawn, police crashing through a door sense.  It came to me one night when I made my rounds through the house before bed.  I turned off the lights downstairs, climbed to the second floor and went into Kate's room to turn off the night light and sneak a kiss before traveling across the hall to do the same for Jane.  There she was, curled up in a ball, cold from the overhead fan, but completely uncovered.  I pulled her sheet and blanket up and there it was:  cover.


I like that I was able to take this one word and use it for inspiration for my piece and in my process, too.  I layered, or covered, many parts of this piece with another material hoping to get a bit of dimension even though the base is watercolor paper.  I am very happy with how it turned out.  I know I will explore this more - I already have another idea how to use this word.  Luckily, I have another willing model.


Thanks Blair for joining us for this round of wordplay.  I am anxious to see what Tracy and Emily come up with.  When they post their projects, you can read about them on their blogs or visit our flickr group.  It's always amazing to me how we interpret one word in such different ways.  The next word has already arrived in my mail box.  I haven't opened it yet - I'm excited by a whole new round of possibilities.


And if I told you that Heather Smith Jones sent it, wouldn't you be excited too?

Skyrocketing heart rate. Or could this post have more categories?

I spent most of the weekend sewing, but I don't have anything to show for it.  All of the projects are in different stages of "not yet finished."  I have myself to blame for this:  running out of thread seems to be a specialty of mine.  And now, I can add math miscalculations to the list as I cut a two and a half yard piece of batting in to a completely unusable mess along with squaring a full size sheet incorrectly.  Yikes.  I think I might start chanting, "Measure twice, cut once" but I am not sure it would help.

The good news is that there are a few things making my heart race lately.  The first is Sarah's latest gocco swap.  Oh boy!  I love me some good looking notes.  See the button on the right side bar?  Click it and sign up.  You know you want to.

Second is Pam's February Lady Sweater.  Seriously.  I have spent a couple weeks deciding if I love this so much because it is the most perfect shade of green or because I really like the sweater.  Turns out, I think it is both.  So now I am on the hunt for the most perfect yarn in the most perfect green.  You know, so I can knit the most perfect sweater.  Preferably wool - suggestions?  I won't start it for awhile - the wrist, you know.  But the girls and I are headed to my favorite place at the end of the week (another thing making my heart rate rise) and the tangled yoke is coming along.  It is the only crafty thing I'm bringing.  That will be either disastrous or genius (the wrist,  you know).  Only time will tell.

Finally, Blair sent Emily, Tracy and I our new assignment.  (As an aside, can I just say how happy I am that Blair is back at the blog thing?  So very happy - I really missed her words).  I pulled out the dictionary - man, oh man!  There are lots of choices with this word.


Cover.  Noun and verb.  My initial thoughts surprised even me.  Wordplay is so fun - it gets me thinking in so many different ways.

Enough for a Monday morning.  Back tomorrow with quilt news.

Wordplay 2: Bloom

When I opened the envelope from Jen six weeks ago, I was thrilled to see the word bloom.  The first thing that came to mind was the saying, "Bloom where you are planted."  And I knew exactly how I wanted to proceed even though I wasn't sure how it would all come together.


Although wordplay is a collaboration with Tracy and Emily, I wanted this project to go further.  I imagined a wider collaboration, something that I could make with bits and pieces given to me from different people.  I was thinking about flowers and gardens and how so often people dig plants up and divide them between neighbors and friends.  That's what I wanted:  a community garden of fabric.  And so, I asked for vintage sheet scraps and boy, oh boy, did you guys come through for me!  Seventeen of you to be exact.  There are just so many good floral prints in a wonderful color palette in those old linens.  I wanted a large variety and small bits.  You all had the best stash of scraps a girl could wish for.  And you were willing to share - for that, I thank you.


I found this aqua linen on clearance and thought it would be a perfect background for the various colors in the sheet scraps.  I began by cutting out concentric circles from different prints - just eyeing them and cutting, no tracing was done here.  Once I had a decent stack of "blooms", I started laying them out on the fabric to see what I had.  I cut some more flowers until I had a random scattering around the perimeter.  I had planned on embroidering the saying by hand in the middle somehow, but felt I needed something to signify myself to anchor it so I cut the one large bloom for that space.


I appliqued the individual flowers to the quilt top by stitching three straight lines across each one.  My original plan was to tie the center of the flowers using embroidery floss, but once I had the quilt sandwiched, I realized that I would need more quilting to hold it nicely together.   I improvised by quilting three circles around one flower.  Initially, I wasn't looking for the wavy lines that I got, but when I stood back to look at it, it was perfect.  It reminded me of my favorite flowers and I smiled.


I had so many scraps to choose from that I ended up using some for a strip of patchwork on the back.  I sewed a label on there, too.  It got quilted over and I really like how it made it blend in a bit more.  The quilting on the back is my favorite part.  Even if the words read backwards, I like it.


I think "bloom" and "Bloom where you are planted" are about finding your hidden potential no matter what your circumstances are at the moment.  I know that if you had asked me nine years ago where I would be in 2008, I would have never imagined that my life as I know it.  I would not be living in this town.  I would have more children.  I would not be sewing as much as I do and certainly not quilting.  I might be knitting.  I would not be writing and designing.  And I most certainly would not have this group of peers, people that I have never met in person, that support, encourage and inspire me.  But I do!  What a great surprise!  And I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing talent.  I have planted myself in this blogging community and in turn, you have planted seeds of inspiration in me.  With a little of my own creativity and time, I am growing in directions I had never imagined.


I had fun making this quilt.  I haven't made anything for myself in a long time and I plan on keeping this one.  It measures 45" x 51" - a perfect summer-nap-in-the-chair size.  Thanks, Jen, for a great word to get me started and thanks, too, Emily and Tracy for playing along.

Life is about the now, not the past or the future.  And if you are successful in living in the moment, I think that you have no choice but to bloom.


Gossamer is a great word - soft and ethereal.  But, man, it is challenging, too. I looked up the definition right away.  I knew the sheer gauzy fabric part, but not the bit about cobwebs.  That little part stuck in my head.  I could not get spiders out of my brain.

My first thought was to knit something super lacy out of soft mohair yarn.  There was that problem of my wrist and how I really can't knit right now. Then I planned to use the yarn and fabric and make some kind of multi-fiber collage/web thing, but I had to give up on that too.  I couldn't find a suitable fabric.  The closest I saw was a silk chiffon, but I didn't think it would hold up to applique.  In retrospect, I probably should have at least tried. In the end, I turned to paper and my sewing machine and my gocco.

My inspiration came about two weeks ago when looking out the kitchen window, I saw the teeniest, tiniest lime green spider, suspended in mid air.  Looking closer, I saw that she was suspended from her own thread right there behind my screen.  At first glance I had seen right through it.  And there she was, getting ready to spin a web perhaps.  Maybe not - she may have been traveling from one point to another.   Regardless, gossamer popped into my head.


First, I drew a graph to make the window screen.  I printed this on vellum using the gocco.  Then, I stitched the spider on a piece of muslin using free motion quilting.  After I copied it, I made my second gocco screen.  I printed the thread portion in white and the spider in green.  The white is hardly visible, you really have to look to see it. 


I printed the screen grid  on one side of the paper and the spider on the other side.  I was going for transparency - I hope I got it.


When Shari gave us this word, I would have never imagined it would lead me here.  In my head this word is so floaty and ethereal and what I made is not.  Plain and simple, I am a bit disappointed with the outcome.


I tried amending this print - adding to it, mounting it, but I think it is best its simplest form.  I know that part of my disappointment stems from uneven printing.  And because I am a procrastinator, I didn't have any time to try it differently.  But, as Emily reminded me, wordplay is about the process.  It's interesting to look back and see how I got to this point.  I can't help but wonder if I didn't have tendinitis, would I have gone a different route?  If I hadn't spent half of the six weeks down in the dumps, would I have seen inspiration elsewhere?  What if I had bought the silk chiffon?  If I hadn't seen that spider, what would I have done differently?

The next word is in an envelope I received from Jen.  I'm going to open it tonight.  I can't help but wonder where it will take me.  Emily and Tracy, are you ready?


Today I am working on my wordplay project - due tomorrow, of course.  I swear, I think I will never learn.  To add a little excitement to the last-minuteness of all this, I found out last night that my kids are out of school at noon today.  What?  I didn't see that coming.  A big thanks to my sister-in-law who is stepping in to watch the little ladies so I can actually get my hair cut.


And the black ink surprised even me.  But, if it works out like I have it in my head, I think it will be good.   Fingers crossed.


Have you noticed the wordplay button in my sidebar?  Did you click on it and end up in an empty flickr group?  Sorry about that.  The problem is corrected now.  Wordplay starts today.

After Tracy and I finished our outside inspiration projects we decided to keep going.  With a twist and a new collaborator. The notion is still inspiration from the outside in the form of a single word, but some things have changed.

I couldn't be more excited that Emily is joining Tracy and me in this creative collaboration.  Starting today, the three of us will be receiving a single word from an artist, a writer or a friend.  We have six weeks to ponder the word, interpret its meaning and use it as a inspiration for a creative project in a media of our choice.  Basically it is one word, three interpretations, every six weeks.

We asked Shari to give us a word as our inspiration.  And she agreed! So imagine my excitement when I received a letter in the mail yesterday.  I knew it was coming.  I knew what it contained.  I knew it couldn't be opened until today.  Never have I wanted to open something so badly.  But I waited.  I did.



First thing this morning, I made my first cup of coffee and opened the envelope.  Out tumbled a pink paint sample with a typewriter written word on it.  Can you see it?


How about now?


Wow.  That is what I call a word.  I can't wait to see what we all do with this.

Now that I have the word, it's time to play.  Thanks for the starting point, Shari.  It's really really good.



I finished my outside inspiration project yesterday.  (You can see a photo that isn't cut off here).  This little quilt is 9" wide by 8"high.  The fabrics were all tea dyed  - I used different teas for different colors.  I used wonder under to applique the tea cup and then stitched it on using free motion quilting.  I also wrote the words free motion style and added some loops for good measure.  The binding is sewn by hand on the back.

It took me a good long while to figure out exactly how to interpret this word.  I thought about tea leaves, all the tea in China, tea houses, tea bags, tea pots, tea cozies, high tea, afternoon tea, Boston Tea Party and more.  Tea, tee and T.  But, really, the quilting thing, especially free motion (which I was so scared of just a few months ago) is just my cup of tea.  Plus, I am a fan of idioms.  And I would be kidding myself if I thought the word I gave Tracy (piece) didn't play into this either.  When I gave it to her, I was thinking of the verb, not the noun.  Quilts on the brain, I guess.  I can't wait to see her interpretation of piece.  There are so many possibilities!

This was fun and a good exercise for me also.  I liked having an assignment.  Tracy and I are planning on doing it again, but the format is going to change some and we have a new partner joining us!  Stay tuned for more Wordplay.