Jane M.

Clearing out

Well I have the perfect opportunity to clear out . About a year ago I packed up my studio and moved from the Netherlands to the UK, back to our old family home. Returning home was wonderful in all aspects except I no longer had anywhere permanent to felt . We embarked on a period of house renovation including building me a new studio. It's all almost ready . I can't miss this opportunity to think very carefully about what I fill my new room with, I certainly can't just open all the boxes and fill it up. And that brings a limitation, as it's not just my studio that's in boxes , but the whole kitchen , and all our books and ornaments , pictures, bedding ........ So time is most definitely not on my side. I must sort the kitchen out aspa and I must move my felt supplies so my son- law can stay in two weeks. A miracle is possible I am sure !

Beautiful studio

the best fibre and fabrics 

to make thoughtful felt.

Cutting up

I have practised the art of cutting up things that don't work before , the best one was a felted jacket that's fit was not great and it's now a collection of abstract felt pictures.  

I have had in my work in progress a two sided felt piece that incorporated part of a piece of silk scarf that I loved and I had kept for years waiting for the perfect opportunity. The two sided idea was good I principle but for me did not really work in practise. I have got this piece out on many occasions in the 6 months since I made it and put it away again , disappointed that it was not right and I had wasted my precious silk scarf on it. 

Yesterday I worked up the courage to cut it up, switch the orientations round and bring parts from the back to the front. Here is the result. Just pinned together but already an improvement! 

Debbie E.

This week was very interesting, working with limitations - there is so much available to buy and study and get interested in I usually have multiple projects on the go. Starting to declutter and scaling down is feeling really good. I have filled two bin bags this week of things that I don't use or need. Having space feels so freeing and makes me feel a lot better and less frenetic. I am really thinking about things that I love and writing down the words and then used the 2 minutes to write down all my thoughts associated the words. I see images but haven't drawn these yet but it is a start and writing down the things you love on paper is really nice. I am really enjoying writing it all in a notebook and I am feeling more in control of where I am heading rather than all over the place if this makes sense. I have planned to make a small piece this weekend using just white cotton sateen and thread so have limited myself and see what I come up with using my word association also, looking forward to working on this, this weekend. Will also keep up the work on clearing my studio. 

Carla D.

This has been a week of fighting a cold or "forced rest".  But when I read the essay about limitations, I had to smile because I have been cleaning out closets and organizing fabrics this year.  My studio still needs more work but clearing out what I don't need in my life is rejuvenating.

In 2002 I started a new job and my husband was laid off of a good paying job.  It took almost two years before he found another position.  By then we had sold our house and were living in an apartment. With the new job, my husband had good health insurance just in time for me to have my cancerous thyroid gland removed and radiation.  After going through that, we decided to look for another house.  I found one in an area that we had walked in wishing that we could live there.  We bought and closed on it but had not moved in when my husband was laid off without any notice.  It was April Fools day.  I felt completely devastated, lost, scared and angry. I'm writing all this because of what I learned from this experience. 

I learned to trust that we would be OK. I learned that we really didn't need a lot of stuff.  I learned to be grateful for what we had and not be sad about what we had lost.  At this moment in time, we are more than OK and our marriage is stronger than ever.  My studio is small, but it works just fine.  Also, I developed a way of working that is my own.  I use small pieces of fabric held together with thread as the first layer of my quilts.  I have found that I don't need a lot of fabric to make these pieces, so I don't need a lot of money or equipment to make art.

But I also learned that developing a new skill isn't enough. I needed content so the essay this week was very helpful.  I sat down and started writing and came up with enough content to last a long time.  I also cut up three small quilts that I "hated".  I used what I had learned from cutting up those black squares in week two.  I am much happier with the outcome and will finish them.  As I began cutting, I noticed the inner critic rearing up but was able to keep going because it didn't matter if I was "doing it right".  I was going to throw these pieces away anyway so what did I have to lose?

I'm including photos of unfinished quilts that I cut up.

Susan M.

I like this lesson a lot. It's an off and on, at times ongoing, project for me, in my work, in my studio. I came across a quote that resonates. In a recent newspaper article (the NY Times, I think) about Midlands, a prep school in southern California, where constraints, limitations, doing with less are taken seriously, a teacher said, "If you can narrow down your sense of need, you can buy yourself an incredible amount of freedom." A narrowed sense of need... what a great idea!

Michele K.

I won't stay too long on the subject of sorting out and reorganising stuff in my studio, which is quite small anyway. I think it is important to go through the shelves regularly and take the time to estimate where I am now, what I use or will use, and what is now out of interest for me.

I like the idea of the listing of words linked to a topic. Yesterday, I started the "scavenger hunt" with 10 words, allowing two minutes for each. Today, with the words which were more interesting for me, I will do again the same exercice, allowing me more time to think. We'll see...

Now, for me the most interesting and the most difficult part of the question is the question of the content. "Le fond et la forme". " La forme, c'est le fond qui remonte à la surface" (Victor Hugo), my (very basic) translation would be : form is content which has been lift back to the surface.

I will just now translate in English what I wrote in my notebook in French. I hope it will be clear enough.

1- suggestion : make a piece of work, starting from a photo showing a river, light fog lifting up, trees on the other side of the river, leaves still mainly green, bushes of thistle already brown near the photographer.
Résumé : lovely landscape, nothing spectacular, peaceful place, light.

2- my feeling / why I took the photo.

Was walking with my dog. Coolish weather, nice to breathe. On my way home. Dog strolling around. Sort of joy, happiness. Feeling of serenity. Light fog, just lifting up. Trees on the other side gradually getting the sunshine. Leaves are revealing their yellow side. Softness, peace, sensation of being lucky, well being.
Didn't really notice the thistle was already wintery when I took the photo. Was just looking for a foreground image. What would have been the photo with a green bush in front ? Would it have make smaller the importance of the other side ?

3- How?

How to translate that lovely balanced instant ? How to show a significance in the picture, without making it over sentimental and sirupy? How to make readable the passage from the fog to the light. Allegory is a big word for that, but something like that, leaving the incertain in the back, and going to the light. How to valorise that little shiny space on the trees, without it being to obvious ?

End of the translation from my notebook. Now, I am about there. I went to a photo program on the computer, to change colours, go to greys etc. I am not too experimented on that, I have to start learning and trying.

I fact, I don't really know if that is what you called content. When I read again why I wrote, it appear that I want to make visible the peace and serenity that I have recover. Is that content?

Is it made up afterwards, just because I liked the instant of the ordinary photograph? I would be very happy if some of you can comment, because I don't know if I am searching in the right direction to make my work more corresponding to me.

Have a nice day. 

Sue K.


Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

When I first started reading CST months ago, it started me on a more or less continual purging, not only of my studio, but throughout my home. This month, I returned to the studio because at long last I have an opportunity to make it into a proper work space, rather than a former bedroom which is just full of my stash and stuff. This has involved packing everything up to be moved out of the room while it is painted and refurnished. This means that I have looked at each thing in there and made a conscious decision whether I want to keep it...because it needs to be worth sorting and packing up, and eventually I’ll have to find a place for it in the room again. I’m not quite done yet, but I would estimate that I’ve off-loaded perhaps a third of the total mass. It has also been an opportunity for me to really look at what I have assembled in my vast hoard, and think about what I probably will use, and how I will use it. And as I continue to do this, I feel as if I am building more of a sense of what it is I want to do with my art. I have given myself permission to limit myself to the materials, techniques and skills that interest me the most, and tomanage my tendency to be distracted (Ooooh! Sparkly!) by something new at every turn. 

I’m interested at how good it feels to lighten this load of possessions, and I am pleased to report that over the months I’ve been engaged in this, I have become much more conscious and hesitant to acquire new stuff. Turns out I had a lot of neat stuff I’d forgotten about as it got buried in the layers. Letting go of things, is addictive and self-affirming. It feels like I’m creating opportunities for myself, rather than limiting them.

Air Clearing Haiku

I know it is time

to question my collection

when it hems me in.


Take it all away!

I can’t see the horizon

from behind this pile.


What does matter most,

the comfort of possessions

or a freer view?


Working with the limitations.

The timing of this project means that for some period of time, most of my materials will not be handy, and my work space will be limited to the kitchen table. I will have one new portable sewing machine, and one antique treadle available, but I’ll be having to work small with a very limited range of materials. I thought about just taking an ‘art break’ but that seems too harsh. 

I’ve been doing a weekly challenge making one small (5” x 5” square) piece of art each Monday, and I currently have nine more weeks to go to complete a full year. I want to finish it, so I have decided I will only use the box of scraps and remnants from the past 43 weeks of work, which has been kept together in a smallish box. To these I’ve added a couple of cutting tools, threads, needles and pins. I intend to use only what is in that box to complete this challenge.

Mining for Content

I am definitely that person Jane describes who needs to define content. I love just playing with color and form, but the pieces I have completed that started with an idea of content are the ones I’ve felt were most successful. This exercise was really useful for me. I’m still looking at the relationships between the words I came up with during the free association exercise. There are three themes which keep bubbling up in my idea factory, so I used them as the starters for the scavenger-hunt.

Macro/Micro/Closeup Images - cell structure, blow-ups and crops, crystals, pollen, plants, lichen, wood grain, textures, listening closely, whispering, wind, raindrop, snowflakes, fractions, fractures

Dream Images - horse head in the sky, rats and wolves, blue room makeover, Ganesha rising from sea, broken flowers, Me meets Me, two yard sales, Dad comes back, my back, Baby Larry, alien rooms and houses, night shift workers, fairy tales

Natural World / Made World - rocks, geology, maps, geography, my town, topography, plan/profile, mountains, trees, water, lake, reflections, seeds, rock formations, layers, excavations, history in the layers, mining, gems, architecture, structures, engineering, threads, sewing, weaving

June M.

Ouch! This lesson really hit home. My six year old neighbor often comes to visit. He loves junk. He once came into my studio and said “You have a lot of junk. If you put one more thing in here it will catch on fire.” I don't think it's quite that bad, but he has a point. I have a lot of clutter and at some point all of it was important. Now some of it is gathering dust. The clutter keeps me from working. It overwhelms me and I put off cleaning it up. It depresses me. It's not a space in which I want to work.

I have been telling myself for the past two years I will do a thorough cleaning of my studio. I get started and quickly lose energy for it. I make some progress then quickly things are back to being cluttered and I am overwhelmed... again. I just repackage and move around the things I have without throwing anything out. I know this is a problem. I just haven't wanted to admit it. It's time to get it done.

This time I made a plan. First I gave serious thought to the type of art I want to pursue and what kinds of supplies I need to keep. If it doesn't support the work, it goes. I did a quick inventory of supplies and tools and made a list of tasks for sorting, disposing, and reorganizing. Instead of walking in and looking at the whole mess and getting discouraged, I can focus on one thing and check it off. I am more successful when I work this way. If I have 15 minutes I can tackle something small on my list. If I have an hour I can tackle a larger task. I am taking Anne LaMott's advice and doing it “bird by bird”!

As for using what I have, I like to work that way. I have not tried cutting up an unfinished piece and am anxious to try that but it must wait. Right now I have to focus my energy on getting my studio in order so I can be serious about my work, with our without limitations!

Donna W.

I celebrated my 61st birthday this past week. As I do from time to time, I worked with my Rune cards, asking the question, “What do I need to know now for my highest good?” The card I selected was Constraint. The message began like this: “Limitations define us, ordeals temper us. See the Great Teacher behind every disguise.” The message continued: “The role of Constraint is to identify our ‘shadow,’ our dark or repressed side, areas where growth has been stunted, resulting in weaknesses that we project onto others.”

I wasn’t thrilled to get that message on my birthday, but then I connected it to this week’s lesson on the power of limitations. Both the Rune message and the lesson seemed like bad news at first blush – who wants to think about getting by with less? – but then I started to think about the wisdom of discernment – making conscious choices to use what I have to its maximum potential instead of always looking for more, more, more. That grasping tendency rises up in me not only in my desire to acquire additional material possessions, be it art supplies or shoes; it also shows up in my constant craving to be more intelligent, more creative, more popular – more, more, more of everything, which has at its root a sense of not-enoughness just as I am.

I didn’t sort through my fabric collection this week, nor did I attempt to rework a piece of art that doesn’t please me, although I intend to do both, soon. I did spend a lot of time considering that it’s time for me to focus on what’s most important, what I cannot do without, and let go of the extraneous stuff that keeps me from being able to see the forest for the trees. 

Micaela F.

Limitations: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” a phase that was made popular – out of necessity - during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some of the most remarkably inspirational quilts I have ever seen are those that have been crafted combining art and utility – Gees Bend quilts, for example, and other vintage scrap quilts. They exemplify the beauty, and even perfection, of limitation.

I’m fortunate in that I have most of the tools and supplies (fabrics, papers, dyes, inks, paints, printmaking materials and equipment, etc.) that I need to work on the projects that appeal or interest me, as well as a decent studio to work in. But some of my favorite projects incorporate materials left over from previous work. I keep a lot of scrap (and by scraps, I do mean everything, down to the tiniest bits – not just strips and blocks over a certain size). It can get out of hand from time to time, and does require the occasional purge, but most often scraps get incorporated into new pieces. Working only with scraps can be a restorative, self-imposed limitation, and is often quite meditative. Removing a lot of the formal planning which might go into other work, the random surprise of working with scraps is liberating, and I find, very calming. It’s been a while since I worked on a pure scrap project (too many other pieces on the go), so I know there are plenty of materials waiting to be used!

Organizing: There’s not too much organizing or purging that I needed to do, until I looked at the tangle of embroidery floss currently being used. All the digging and picking can make a mess (yes, I know there are ways around that) I dumped and resorted several small bags of floss (that usually get put together by project so I can take them with me on trips or to meetings) and found just what I needed… or at least what I will make do with. And out went a pile of tangled threads!

Rules: I don’t have too many rules, but there is one which is a favorite. Whenever I have the opportunity, at a workshop or a sharing circle of some kind where supplies or project materials are being handed out, I always wait to see what’s left after everyone else has made their picks. Some of my favorite pieces have come from this approach. Some hand-dyed dull grey, mottled scraps were all that were left in work shop that I attended several years ago. They were so inspiring to work with that I have gravitated to those shades ever since. That experience is what made me set the “be last” rule for myself. It usually works out for the best.

Work With It: I have to go with “fast forward to content” on this one. It’s a busy week, and I hope to get back to some of the other exercise in this section for but now… content. I like the idea of considering a topic or words for two minutes and writing down everything that comes to mind. I have been considering this word for a while.

“Light” – sun joy open circle bright absorb reflect blind blinding stars moon orb spirit white clear scattering sharp laser focus eyes cones and rods god nur path ultraviolet colour prism light my way.

Sharon C.

The Power of Limitations

Setting idea goals and thinking about limitations seems a good way to spur creativity.  For me, I like how it stimulates serendipity, as when I’m working on something and decide to use only fabrics I can see in front of me.  Or when working on a digital design and deciding to simply use images next to one another in the same folder.  This exercise actually motivated me to clear off one of my worktables—with a goal of keeping it clear so I can easily work on it.  I’ve enjoyed the lack of clutter for the last few days—we’ll see how long it lasts!  

My Studio

Limitations in my “studio” are difficult for me, as I’m sure they can be for other lovers of color and fabric.  I say studio, but the room doubles as an office I keep for my freelance writing and editing business.  Space is limited, although I’ve tried to maximize it.  I like the idea of if something comes in something must leave.  We once did that with my son and his toys.  He was left with making the decision.  How well did that work out?  So-so, because he never liked making decisions so I think it was stressful for him.   

Because my studio is small, I made an effort lately to limit the items in it but recently “subdivided,” and moved my printing equipment and dyeing supplies to a space in my garage just off my utility room.  It has worked well, and although I may have only fooled myself into thinking I’m more organized, at least I have a better handle on my sewing space.  There is only so much room there and although when I’m working on something I’m okay with the clutter, at other times I do tend to need it somewhat straight. I keep my fabric stash in cubbies made for shoes and limit myself to the space I have.  But “fabric creep” is a definite issue.

Changing Times

I am trying to slowly divest myself of sewing and quilting fabrics I no longer need as well as piecing projects I once found appealing yet did not complete because I moved onto to some other project or technique—a quilter’s version of shiny objects, I suppose.  A lot of that fabric and project creep occurred while I was working full time and primarily interested in experimenting with techniques or designs.  Now that I am retired and primarily make art quilts, the scope of my fabrics has changed.  Last year I went through my stash and got rid of fabrics I was confident I’d never use—but then again, once they are gone, they are gone!  I’m in the process of going through partially completed quilt projects and plan to donate them to a group.  As an aside, I do not have a problem putting down a project if I get bored with it or don’t like it—completion can be overrated and if someone you might be living with (as I once had) hassles me about not completing something before starting something new, I believe it’s their problem and not mine.  


Maximization of color and line is generally my goal.  I love to design intuitively and generally just have some broad goal in mind.  I like to challenge myself with new techniques or goals when I do digital designs or art quilts.  A lot of times I work with ideas and once I conquer an idea or accomplish the project, I like to move on.  I am lousy at series work because I do not like feeling as though I’m repeating myself and have not yet found an effective way of coping with that artistically.  I hope that means lots of variety, but I feel comfortable working improvisationally and keep returning to it.  

For my digital fabric design work, I like to select images randomly.  I consider myself a generalist (my real term is “lumper”) when it comes to organizing—especially with my computer files.  A lot of images simply get dumped into one folder.  That has worked out well when I am in the mood to create a new fabric image because I often just take an image that is close to another.  Not like using a randomizer, but close enough for my purposes.  That method has allowed me to create some interesting designs using some pretty disparate photos, giving the designs interesting layered effects. 


As the saying goes—“Life is a journey and not a destination”—this particular exercise was helpful in looking a little deeper into the design process.  For me, creating art quilts is the journey rather than simply a destination or duplicating a quilt I saw in a magazine, and although I am usually glad when the piece is finished, I love the design process the most.  The colors, the feel of the fabric, that sense of what was once disjointed and disparate now being a completed piece, and even the decision-making process, are the things that excite me most about making quilts.  

Maria S.

I found 2 things in this week's lesson.  First, the clearing out of the studio.  Of course this is a great thing to do not only with the hundreds of supplies I have but it's also interesting to finish the many started projects I have.  Well, either finishing up or recycling the project in some other way.

Second, to work within the limitations of my supplies.  This makes me be creative and come up with a solution.  Good for new ideas.  But also showed me that I have so many different kinds of supplies that I don't know which one I like the best.  A very hard decision when trying to clear out the studio.

Another central part of this week's lesson for me was the idea of content.  When I make a piece that is only supplies motivated, it doesn't work.  When I start with a piece that has writing behind it, it works.  I didn't realize this so clearly until now.  My work that doesn't get accepted in exhibitions is missing content.  But starting with a good base of content is hard for me, so I will have to work on it.

Exercises for this week:

1.  clean up the studio, well, I'm on it.  Finish all started projects, or recycle.  Yes, helps to see and think clearly.

2. working within limitations.  I chose a thread sketch that I've been working with and didn't know what to do with.  I cut it up and collaged it to some left over collages and found I liked this version.  I'm still wondering about content, though....

Vernon S.

IDEA LISTFIR  series of artists

ooks using handmade paper qan citton wuth soy ew



uwe coloreed pendil as well  Use India ink

Cloth to udser pri,arily cotton SATEEN, Gauze, cheesecloth, and elveteen

There should e a lot of terxture both visual and taqdtile''

For tactile use paperdlay etc

Usea hands held steamer for settint the dye crayons

Topics should e aboiut the mapping of and the eploration of an unknown planet Finds could indlide whatg appeqar  to be religious texts


In the Hebrew, the first word in the book of Genesis is the word  


Curiously this is a masculine noun with a feminine plural ending, one of the many names of God, in this referring to creation.

In the collective unconscious at the cellular level, it is understood that the cell contains both masculine and feminine.  In Jung's theory, we find that each At the person level, the rchetyoes include both animus and anima, masculine and feminine.  So, if I look at the genesis of all things, I must include the fact that creativity involves facets and attributes of both, and that art does not emerge from vacuunm, contnotjing/  In modern hilosicl thought, Jean Paul Sartre created an entire


Investigating and thinking, we find that k he modern philosophy of despair, was based ona mistranslation of and orietal tet.  The wors==

The wors no thing were read as :nothing:

No where in oriental philosophy is there a reference to NOTHING

We cannot create art from nothing, we create it from multiple things, and hene the plurality expressed in genesis.  Thu\\This concept could serve as basis for this series.

things which fascinate and inspire

    Color 9  I iethe econdary triad he most\    

        Vile,Red Orange an Yllow Green

        But I like to inclufr smll amounts of  rimrt tru=iad

            In pigment 9Red, yellow, blue

    thr qualitis  righ shiny ler

I genrally think of it as a a variation on tn the spli complements

    I lik3 a lot od textue,both viual and tqctie.  I like yoift the image offifthe surfae like maof o uneven terrain of rain although I pref




WHAT I HAVEFINLLY DECIDED TO DO IS AN QARTIST BOOK, 24 BY 48, QHICH MAQKEWS IT A FREE-STANIBNG SCULPTURE s well.  The oers will be 11/4 inch baltgi birfch plywood, which will be covered withfabri asnd paper iollage,  quilted, stiffe, Italian corded trapunter, tufting, an upholstered with clay and polymer  beds I;ve madel.  The inner pagew of the adcordiantyle wll be forfam boar or foamcore, cikverfed with quilted and tufted collagews, and traOPUNTGO AS WELL.  I WANTG A TADFTILE ELEMENT AW W3ELL ASA FISUAL,  thEW BACKOVERE ON THE INSIDER WIOLL BE A ORNEL TYPOESHALKD=DOW BOX FIKLLED WITGHN ATIFACTS iWILL MAE, SOFTG ECULPTURE ASWELL AS CLAY.  I KNOW THIS IS AMBITIOUS, BUTASgOLDA mEYIER SAID, ifNIOT T=NOW, WHEN?


This is the firt in a series, I am hoping qand will be my magnumopus.,  More lT3ER, I AN DRAWING TGO CALE PLANS FOR IT NOW.

Ricki O.

Because I work as an art teacher and community artist, work often seems to take up a big amount of extra time that stretches beyond the confines of normal working hours. It's sometimes hard to find space to be an independent artist as well.  Time is my greatest limiting factor and I've been ruminating about that a lot since I started this course. 

Can I turn it around so that my paid work is able to facilitate my more personal work?

- Work as a subject- make something (a journal? a series of journals?) about my fluctuating relationship to work. 

- Community art projects - the project itself- do something extra that becomes                             personal addition to theproject.  Sometimes really good to ride the wave of the excitement of an existing project.

- Use left over materials from my work projects and make something more personal out of           them. 

- Use processes that I've developed for community art projects to create more personal projects. Or take something you've been doing with students and subvert it. Should I keep some processes secret so they remain my personal style or feed them back into the class?

- Make samples as examples for teaching that are completed works in their                                     own right.  

-Acknowledge to myself how much of teaching and community art projects are                           creative processses in their own right and allow myself the space to be satisfied with this when they take up all my time.

Chris C.

I went through this exercise a couple of months ago. My sewing area takes up half the lounge room and it was decided that the family would be better suited if it was moved to the other half(bless them for putting up with it at all!).

The move brought about a big clean-up of all the stuff and reorganisation of my space. A few things were disposed of, though not masses, but  it was sorted into tubs which went onto newly purchased shelving and wonderful, dedicated  work spaces  appeared when the mess was cleaned up.  Happily, the result has been a huge surge in the amount of work I have achieved.

I'm afraid I am not going completely reform my messy ways - there is too much fun in the purchase of potential and it is a habit too long ingrained, but I am going to keep it contained. It is very satisfying to be able to just start work on a project without having to look for a clear horizontal surface.

Sharon R.


The power of limitations

As I stood in my sewing room thinking about what I might need to get rid of, I found myself smiling, because this is such a happy mess.  It is not really a mess; it is full.  There is evidence of a sewing project, a beading project, a spinning project, and several knitting projects.  There is a huge bulletin board of inspirational magazine rips and instructions and sayings.  There are beautiful fabrics hanging on the walls.  There are thrift store finds to be re-cycled.  There are peg boards of thread.  Oh, how glorious!  I do limit myself to making clothes because that is what I love.  I confess to sometimes dithering and being indecisive because there are so many choices of what to work on, but that problem is caused by my trying to satisfy perceived external demands (for example, the knitted sweater for my baby nephew).  It really helped me when Jane said that I must think I am pretty important.  Ha! I seem to learn and then forget that insight periodically.  There is no one in my family sitting around thinking, “Well, where is my sweater from Aunt Sharon.”  There is no one any where judging the quantity or quality of my output.  There is no way to judge which is the most important and no reason to do so.  Thus, my limitation is on who gets to dictate what I work on next.   I will choose to work on whatever strikes my fancy at the moment, whatever is most beautiful or most creative at the moment.  No overanalyzing.  Just playing.

Lisa C.

The Power of Limitation


My husband peeked in my studio shortly after I had posted the Studio Rules.  He is of the opinion that Studio Rule #1 is in the reverse order.  He feels it should read:  “Something goes out then something comes in”.  I have to admit he does have a point. 

I am guilty of being the owner of a large fabric stash that I have amassed over many years.  About five years ago I started to hand dye fabric myself - so much fun!  I am trying very hard not to be tempted into buying any more commercial fabric.  Timing of this exercise was excellent since I haven’t undertaken a major purge in since we moved to our house three years ago.  I did take some time this week to edit the stash some more.  I also donated some quilt kits that I have had for years – if I haven’t touched it by now, clearly my interest has waned!  The first photo shows my ‘Going Out” and ‘Staying In” piles to date.  I still have more purging to do and I am committed to complete this task before this course is done. 

Work With Limitations – Silver Sails

Maybe it is the start of spring (very late this year but I am not bitter) but a few weeks ago I cleaned out and organized my scrap box and found I had a number of narrow strips that be a good challenge for this assignment.  Here were my rules:

Create a small art piece (13 in x 20 in).  Figured I could make a quilted pillow for our new window bench in the kitchen if I liked it.

Use only fabric in my  scrap pile.  I have to  “make it work” with these scrap strips - no yardage cuts! 

Photos of the finished piece along with a close-up are attached.  Here are the journal notes I made while assembling the piece:

Started with a 14 x 20 in piece of plain white cotton.  Backed it with Pellon Presto Sheer to give it some stiffness as a foundation for piecing the narrow strips.

Started to piece strips from the bottom up with random narrow curves using the blue-green-grey-white color motif.  This is what was in my scrap box from a previous project.

Thinking ¼ in seam allowances will be too big for the width of my strips (mostly ½ in) so I used a smaller seam allowance (1/8 in).

Added a series of 1 in pencil lines on the cotton foundation piece so I could judge how the curves are moving vertically as I continue to piece.

Decided to seam many of the strips to make them long to piece in a continuous line across the longer edge (21 in).  Made the conscious decision to keep the same fabric in each strip so it created a single band of color.

Used some small strips of silver silk to add a shimmer effect to the water.  Like the way the light reflects off this strip mimicking the effect of sunlight on water.

About one-quarter of the way through piecing, I started to think that the colors remind me of a seascape landscape.   This was not my original plan but I decide to see where this might take me.  Start to adjust water colors to create a darker gradation of blue as we approach the horizon. Noted on my horizontal lines where I might transition to the sky area.

Had some problems with the small seams pulling apart (selvedge edge peeking through the seam allowance) as I progress with the piecing.  Found that I can solve this problem if I sew down the raw edge of the piece I have just added to the foundation before adding the next strip.  This adjustment worked very well.

Transitioned water strips to dark blue fabrics to create the horizon edge for the horizon.  Found that editing iPad photos using the black-white option to be very useful in judging value.

Had some scraps of a hand dyed commercial fabric that would work well for the sky area.  Didn’t have enough of the hand dyed strips so I used a couple of strips of the undyed fabric and later added watercolor paint to roughly match with the color of the hand dyed strips.

Thought about inserting white strips into the hand dyed strips in the sky to create clouds.  Rejected this idea, thinking it would look a little cartoony and might be better to keep it simple.

Thought about adding some sailboats along the horizon.  Covered some pale scraps of fabric with cheesecloth to add a little texture.  Cut out simple shapes to give the ‘idea’ of sailboats on the water.

Decided to add a sun using the silver silk to add a little interest in the sky.  Might add some fabric paint to the sun. 

Thinking about calling the piece “Silver Sailboats”.  The piece still needs to be quilted and binded.  Might add a little hand stitch or a few beads to add interest.

Might try this again in a smaller format.  Ideas to consider:

Use only hand dyes instead of commercial fabric.

Pay more attention to the value of adjacent strips on the water.  Need to make the transition of color and value more gradual as you approach the horizon.

Horizontal strips for the water area do not have to traverse the entire piece.  Might look a little more like water if the strips terminate in a point before reaching the vertical edge of the piece.

Try using silver silk for the sailboat shapes.

Sandy G.

I LOVED this week’s assignment! 

I have too much stuff everywhere….clothes, beads, art supplies, FABRIC!!!!!!, notions….quilting magazines….I had decided to redo my “sewing room” several months ago. and having read “the life changing magic of tidying-up” i am ready to “Kondo-ize” my clothes, books etc…. the problem has been time…and terror….

I have reached the time in my life, as others have also come to, when i realized that if i live to be 200 i wont be able to complete all the projects i have stuff for! i have succumbed to Jane’s apt description of “the seduction of possibility” for too many years! so i end up managing stuff…instead of being productive!

So I decided that if i am going to believe that i can live the life i want to live, then i need to reorganize, declutter in order to achieve breathing room and space to create…I visited a friend’s sewing room and got inspired…and we had an upcoming wedding to attend in Charlotte, NC…where there is an IKEA!!!!! so i planned my new room. Visited IKEA the sunday morning after the wedding…And it is going to be awesome…i wish i had taken before pix….I have made most of the IKEA furniture…and am waiting for my husband to help anchor the book cases to the walls…and to make the table top for my sewing machine and serger…unfortunately not until this coming weekend….but i am coming to terms with what i love and what can go…..which is a good thing…

I plan to deal with my bead studio as well (would be too embarrassed to post a photo of said studio!!!)…there are beads I wonder why i bought in the first place! One big thing i have learned there is that i need to follow my heart and make what i love, not what i think someone will buy. And, they sell better! :-)

So my limitation for the project was to alter a reject block from a quilt I hope to finish someday….(yup…one of many of those….)

I photographed it, printed it out and cut it up into various shapes…the thing that was most pleasing to me was the strips….so i wove them…and this is the first iteration….i feel it needs more PINK!!! so i will add that and actually sew it maybe by hand as my machine is not set up yet in my new space…..(i did this BEFORE looking at Open Studio! and was pleased to see Kerstin’s woven calligraphy!) I think i will rearrange the strips as well…but definitely add more pink! and i will post my results…..

Looking forward to getting cleared out…and moving forward!

Anne W.

Generally speaking clearing out is not something I struggle with. In fact I have often been at odds with my family over the years as my husband and two of my three children have a tendency to hoard. I was even feeling very pleased with the 'Big Clearout' I did in my workroom at the beginning of the year. It changed from being a storeroom full of potentially useful stuff to an accessible appealing workroom, a room I was suddenly very happy to be in at every opportunity. So when I saw the title for the 4th week, I felt a bit smug and thought 'Yes, been there, done that'. However having read through the text, I realise, no I haven't quite got it 'right' yet!

I now realise I have materials and resources I bought or acquired for courses or interests I wanted to try out thinking I would 'really like to do that'.  It is now clear if I am being honest with myself that although I enjoyed and gained a lot from such courses, the main benefit was for me to expand and broaden my skill base and creative approach and not pursue that particular technique. My core way of working still revolves around painting on silk, my first love, but I now incorporate other materials and techniques into this aproach to make my work more interesting and unique to me.  

I am also going to do a further clear out and 'give away', although I must admit that as I write this I know when it comes to it, it will feel still feel difficult. The what if, just in case, what a waste of money and so on, thoughts are still trying to sneak in. 

The next thing will then be to arrange and store what I plan to keep to make them clearer and more readily accessible. This should help both with saving time in looking for something but also with prompting me to consider including something because I see it!