Sunday, December 30, 2012

Walking the Walk

For this new year, I've decided to use my journal daily as a tool for artistic growth.

I've journaled off and on throughout my life, leaning on it more or less depending on what I felt I needed.  My tendency is to abandon it when I don't feel the need or have the energy and then to pick it up again as the mood strikes.  Interestingly, this is also my relationship to my work.  I want to change that behavior.

I want to come to the studio every day, by which I mean, I want to do something creative every day, even if I don't really "want" to.  I'm hoping to translate journaling discipline into creative discipline as well.

Last year I worked on developing my identity as an artist, on moving from one who creates art to artists.  I worked on answering the question, "What do you do?" with "I'm an artist," without cringing or laughing.  This year, I'll work on walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

I have a tuned-up sewing machine and a fresh stack of thrifted linens.

I have a mostly empty Etsy shop.

It's time to get to work.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Blog-a-versary to Me

Thanks everyone for a great first year of blogging.  I've really enjoyed the process and I'm looking forward to more years to come.  This blog has helped me focus on what was important and interesting to me artistically.  It has held me accountable to myself by creating a record of my artistic journey.  In this past year, I have gone further than I thought I could.  I'm looking forward to another year of daring greatly as an artist.  I hope you'll join me.

Meanwhile, my trusty White 2999 is in the shop for repairs to the feed dogs (is there any better term?)  So Ellis and I are rocking our vintage pink Homemark De Luxe Zig Zag 1620.  

She's pretty and she works pretty well for what she is.  Sarah and I picked her up at a garage sale in Pittsburgh for cheap, like possibly $5?  I learned to sew on it after having it serviced.  It was the first machine I sewed on with confidence.  I still love this machine, partially because it's pink and and partially because it was the beginning of so much for me.

Ellis and I had a good time practicing together.  I confess, it took me awhile to remember how to work it.  Although I do have the manual somewhere, it's not with the machine (mistake).  An hour into the process, I figured out how to zig zag, and we were off.  Ellis can't reach the pedal, so I controlled the speed and he did the steering.

Please note that he has wrapped an old machine belt around his neck.  Very punk rock, no?

I'm not sure when my new machine is coming back and I'm really wanting to get some work done.  I'm going to try to stitch a towel with the Homemark in the meantime.

I must say, the Homemark's zigzag creates a more interesting line than the White.  If I can get the precision from it, these towels will be really cool. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resting, A Little

We had such a lovely Christmas.  My parents were here and we pretty much just hung out and enjoyed each other's company.  That's what it's supposed to be about, I guess.

I received a very special gift of a stained glass window that used to hang in my grandma's home and that later hung in my mom's.  I'm thrilled to hang it in my house.

Unfortunately, I'm sick today.  And my sewing machine isn't working and needs to go to the sewing machine doctor.  Maybe we're like Elliott and E.T., sort of psychically connected.  Or maybe it's just a coincidence.  Anyway, my plan to spend my sick day sewing was fully thwarted, so I spent much of the morning cutting out paper stars and sticking them to my windows.

It's snowing now and I'm waiting for Sarah and Ellis to get back from whatever adventure they're on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Etsy Shop Clinic

My awesome friend Jane (of Thumb & Pinky) came over to help me with my shop.  She had lots of good suggestions to help me get the most out of my shop.  It would have taken me literally forever to figure all of this stuff out.  With Jane, it took two hours.

Most importantly, she showed me how to brighten up my photos.  Check out my new photo editing skills:

Aren't they bright and happy?  So much brighter than the older versions of these pics.  I edited my existing photos, but Jane also showed me how to get more functionality out of my camera for new pictures in the future.  Vibrant color is such an important component of my pieces.  I'm happy to be able to show that color in the photos now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wherein Mama Takes Care of Herself, And Makes Chili

I know it's Christmas time and we're supposed to be thinking about doing things for others, but today I did something for myself.  I got a babysitter.  For "no reason".  Historically, I only get daytime babysitters when I have to do something Ellis un-friendly, something where he absolutely cannot go.  And even then, I've taken him to the doctor before and things like that.  I felt a little weird getting someone to watch him when I technically could be watching him.  It feels like an unnecessary extravagance.  Ah, mama guilt.  Good times.

Frankly, I needed to recharge.  I've been busy lately, especially with the store and the holidays.  I have more tasks than I have time for.  So I hired the world's very best babysitter (my friend Kathleen!!) and had the afternoon to get stuff done.  I also bought myself the new Brene Brown book on kindle.  The Gifts of Imperfection truly changed my life and the way I think of myself.  Recent events (not mentioned on this blog) have put me in a rough place emotionally.  This new book seems like just the right thing at just the right time.

It's often hard to remember to take care of oneself, especially if you're caring for kids who frankly could care less if you need to, say, eat or pee.  It's hard to remember you're a person, not a series of tasks.  So here's to taking care of yourself.

Since that's hard to photograph, here's the stitching I've been up to.

I'm looking for some different ways to make designs.  I'm liking the look this stitch, whatever it is.  Possibly satin stitch?  I don't love doing it, though.  It's slow to produce results.  Still, the ways in which it could work to frame images are tempting me to grow to love it.

Also, during my me-time, I did make dinner for everyone.  I'm historically bad at feeding myself.  That's dumb, right?  I mean eating?  That's a pretty basic skill.  Still, I'm likely to drink coffee all day and eat nothing but leftover goldfish crackers.  I'm a work in progress.  But today I made chili.  I've written about making chili before.  This is a different style, a riff on this Smitten Kitchen recipe.

The recipe is totally worth making as written.  However, I don't always have all the ingredients on hand and I prefer to soak my beans in advance, so I don't make it in the slow-cooker.  So I often make a variation of the recipe.  The secret to getting close to it seems to be using red onion, some peppers, more cumin than seems wise, and the chipotle peppers in adobo.  If you don't have adobo, though, sautee the veggies in bacon grease for a similar flair.  That's what I did today.  I also used some cilantro veggie broth I made awhile back.  It's an amazing base for any south of the border recipes.  And the home-canned tomatoes I added didn't hurt, either.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Decking the Halls

I love getting out the Christmas decorations.  I am particularly fond of our family stockings made out of recycled wool sweaters, one for each human, dog, and cat in the house.  We think Winnie will be okay with Ruby using her stocking this year.

Ellis utterly loves going through our decorations.  He nearly lost his mind.

Then he got straight to work trimming his bedroom tree.

Unfortunately, the light has been all doom and gloom around here and my tree trimming pictures are less than inspiring.  Here's the best I could do.

Sarah and I also cooked up a batch of Cranberry-Apple Jam last night.  I guess since Christmas is in two weeks, we'd better actually make the homemade gifts we're planning!