Debbie E.

Big or obsessive!!!

Decided to tray dye some fabric and did over 100 pleats in the tray. Really felt let loose this week and I am engaging with my work and investing time and working with my love of the outside. All week my mind has been on my love of creating and feel free to be able to do this. It has been the most amazing week for me. I am not rushing and now I am thinking what next for my forest and I will be patient and know that I will find the answers. I am also using what I have so have dyed everything. Wow what a week, thank you Jane.

Micaela F.

I’ve contemplated this lesson all week, while I worked on a current piece. I kept wanting to work with the exercises – I do find them intriguing and want to discover what might come from the experimentation. I love the materials some of the other artists here have chosen to work with - leaves, rice, hardware - screws and nuts…

I had difficulty connecting with an exercise or idea that I wanted to spend the time on. Everything I thought of was, in fact, too large or too obsessive! I thought about digging randomly in my scrap bag and simply sewing together 100 pieces – whatever came out, whatever shape in whatever random order – that would be okay, and I still may do that (as I have done before) – but it didn’t happen last week, and probably won’t happen for a while.

Problem… I often work large… and often obsessively – or at least with lots of detail. So my decision this week, after some hesitation as I tried to the make the time for the exercises, was simply to continue to work on a piece already in progress. Lots and lots of hand stitching, with some machine stitching, but right now am doing the hand work – and there’s lots more to go. It has the benefit of being meditative, because the actions are so repetitive. I’ve managed an hour or two most days – sometimes more. That’s my commitment to the studio this week.

Back to it now. Happy stitching!

Denise B.

I like the concept of using what you have.  I am guilty of dashing out and purchasing more fabrics, materials, etc without a thought to what I already have.  Then on my return having to find another home for these new items!  I am about to embark on a new project and have set myself the target to only use what I already have.

As my next project will be based on an Autumnal theme I thought it would be apt to gather 100 leaves.  So, this weekend whilst my daughter and I were out walking I set the challenge to see who could collect the most leaves, suffice to say my daughter won.  I popped them all into a box and then whilst poised with a camera my daughter emptied the box onto the patio.  It was windy at the time so the leaves were tossed across and off the patio.  Here are some of my pictures.

Carla D.

This morning it was "go to the store" or "work in your studio".  I'm so glad that I chose the later.

During the week I got out my scraps pile and tried to make a piece using all those bits and pieces on a larger scale.  I tried but failed.  Next day I took it all apart because I did not want to spend time on something that just wasn't working.  A day later I took a quilt that I had spent hours on and cut up most of it into 1.5 X 1.5 " pieces and tried to arrange them into something that worked.  No such luck.  Feeling discouraged, I could hear those voices questioning why I had even tried.  Next day, thanks to CST, I "got back on my horse" and decided to arrange the pieces into something else.

Lo and behold, the work became fun and I like the result. There are one hundred small squares that are made up of very small pieces that were originally sewn by a grid.  The grid is repeated with the squares on the black.  Now I want to put it all together which could prove difficult, but I'll learn, and if I hate it, well it is not a total lost cause. I have enough of the original quilt to make another 100 squares so maybe I will make it bigger.

Susan M.

Making time

The process I’m most interested in pursuing now, maybe forever, is stitch. The bad thing about it – it’s S L O W! The good thing about it – it’s S L O W! It takes time and can’t be hurried. I love that it requires a sane pace. And, when I’m underway with an idea, I don’t absolutely have to have a big block of time. But, often even the smaller bits of time are hard to find.

Things to do to make time:

1) I’m something of a political junkie and regularly pour over multiple newspapers for an hour or more every morning. Election day! There couldn’t be a better time to rein that habit in.

2) And, instead, I’m going to sit and stitch for at least a ½ hour every morning.  That’s 3 ½ hours a week! Yes, of course, with a fresh cup of coffee nearby.

Taking time

I think that for me “taking time” is about not counting time. Forgetting the clock. I’m working on something that is, in some ways, a mindless approach. Stitch as drawing, careless, uncertain, poorly crafted craft. Even so, it’s slow. I need to work without considering how long it’s taking, without measuring progress, without counting time. And, without worrying if the result will be worth the time. How to do this? I hope just the intention to not count time will launch a different engagement with the process.

Below "Doubt" in progress...

Kris L.

I haven’t participated in the open Studio these past two weeks, however, I have taken time to read a few of the posted and have greatly been encouraged by each one as I read each person’s journey.  I did gather two bags of miscellaneous from my “Q” room which took all day to fill but it felt amazing.  I now feel that the grazing can begin and has.  For me being a full time worker bee….I come home tired and love my down time before I can go into my “Q” Room and before I know it…it can be bed time.  Alas!  But I need to be ok with that right?  REBEL!!!!!  I may have to set a specific time to head into my room…will that bug me???  We will see. It was fun cutting up many pieces of paper and gluing them on a background for week 5 assignment…loved playing!  So..  I will be practicing to SLOW Down, protect my time and savor the process, enjoy each piece I’m working on and not to hurry…. 

Barbara D.

Did I do it … Did I turn down an invitation to ride in order to spend time in the studio.  Yes – however, it was an effort driven by my internal voice saying; “be sure to take part in my lesson” … “be sure to do your homework” ... “this is the only window in time you have this week”… it’s a loud voice.  These lessons are insight with a developing understanding – a developing rhythm (thanks to Jane and her strong guidance)  that it’s our responsibility to structure our busy lives so we .. no … I have the TIME to free associate – and create.   

As I was journaling this week, I realized the time change was a stronger force than I realized. Now… it’s not only OK to take time – to slow down – but now Mother Nature echoes those intentions.  The leaves are raked, the ranch is tucked in and we’re ready for winter.  In Oregon – it gets dark here early on the 45th parallel.  The truth for me is this equation…Dark = gotta find something to do = go into the studio.  One of the sentences which resonated to me from this week lesson was to “take time to maintain the connection between who you are and what you want to make”.    It’s not all or none – I can maintain the variety which fills my life, however - I must simply realign my focus to be creative.  Put in in the forefront and simultaneously and gracefully, allow everything else simmer on the back burner.  It’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately, I was not able to complete last week’s lesson – so I combined them both into this one.  I was tidying the shop area in the barn and found a can of small nuts and bolts.  This what I used to create from what I had … as well an tiny effort in obsessiveness.  The bandwidth for BIG wasn’t available.

Dumped the contents of the can onto the table

Dumped the contents of the can onto the table

My immediate desire was to SORT and count to your age - 58

My immediate desire was to SORT and count to your age - 58

Mix it up and add pieces to equal 100 - more abstract

Mix it up and add pieces to equal 100 - more abstract

Made something easy … Cotter pins drove the project

Made something easy … Cotter pins drove the project

From the abstract I saw a fish

From the abstract I saw a fish

Back to complete abstraction

Back to complete abstraction

Sharon C.

Challenges and Obsessions

My “studio” is centrally located in my house, and I usually wander in several times a day.  Sometimes to use my computer—but other times I may just sit down at my workbench and work out an idea or two I had for a project.  I am, however, definitely enjoying this studio time with a purpose—and am thinking of it as an opportunity to think about creating—seems a form of critical thinking.

I tend to like the types of challenges that are somewhat self-imposed—that’s probably because I can make up my own rules.  And admittedly, my work or creativity can also take on the feel of obsession, so this week’s topic for studio work seemed designed for me to put something together using some small swatches of my digital work I created a couple of months ago as handouts for a presentation I gave to a SAQA group.

While sitting at my work table/bench, I ended up dumping the swatches onto the table (Figure 1) and then seemingly by instinct began putting them in some order—I’m guessing this is where OCD kicked in!  It’s not unusual that my brain switches to color and Figure 2 shows what I ended up with.  I did not count the number of swatches, but there were probably between 50 and 70—most of them the same size.

After laying them out, I set about trying to come up with what I would do with them and tossed around a few ideas.  Sewing them together was immediately rejected because they are pretty uniform in size and I prefer a random on offset look so I decided to throw in a couple more variables into the mix.  Because collage work feels creative to me, I decided I would attach the pieces onto a piece of muslin.  But again, I felt it lacked variety so I decided I would “allow” myself to use paper—starting out at first with some stamped deli paper and purchased tissue paper with writing.  I also had a few sheets of printed slides from my presentation, so I threw those into the mix.

I’ve made notebook covers before using scraps using this collage method and decided that would be my goal for my swatches.  It took about an hour to fill in the muslin with some interesting and colorful pieces of fabric and paper (see Figure 3).  To come up with my final product (Figure 4), my next step is to attach the pieces with decorative stitches and then quilt.  I tend to go for the grid—because it is easy and I like the look of it.  

The book cover turned out bright and colorful and I will use it to cover a Composition Note Book.  It could turn out to be someone’s Christmas present!

Michele K.

When I read week 5 lesson and assignment, I took the easy way and started to play with grains of black rice. It was fun to make a few drawings with it . When it came to the point of digging a bit deeper, I escaped and taught « Anyway, I am just wasting my time doing that », and, even if I am thinking a lot of the lessons and assignments, I didn’t do much this week.

That brings me back to week 3and the committee. Probably, for me, there is another member, made from a conglomeration of words and sentences heard for long time, that tells me :  « Dont spend your time for nothing, do something useful ».  

And I guess that it won’t be easy to get read of that powerful voice.

I will have to get to a type of compromise to avoid that inside voice to be speaking too loud.

So I will try to write, each evening for the next day, what I have to do - compulsory stuff- and what I want to find time for.  I will experiment if that helps me.

This afternoon, I took the time to collect and glue autumnal leaves , fallen on the lawn, and I liked doing that.

Mary L.

Due to a couple of very busy weeks, I am behind in lessons and trying to catch up.  I started my obsession pieces with circles.  They aren't all cut out yet and I am still musing on the back ground and arrangement of the circles. However. i wanted to check in for the week.   I am excited about the possibilities and looking forward to playtime with this piece.  I used lots of scraps for the circles as well as some hand died fabric from a class I took five years ago.  Cleaning out and using up so covered lesson 4 !   The black and white piece is a work in process from lesson one.   I am starting a series with this concept so this is just a start.

Speaking of obsessions..... The reason I am behind is that I just completed back to back marathon weekend races---( plus, two weeks before running a multi-race weekend that included a half marathon).  This past weekends 26.2 put me over my year goal of 1000 running miles!!!!! Not bad for being 66 years old.  Proud of my accomplishments, however I must admit that "the committee" is telling me that I could have run a faster pace and that I really didn't need the lazy recovery days I took and used as a reason not to complete the lessons.  Ugh... the committee spills over to every aspect of my life.  I am relieved and very glad the pressure of the big races are over and I can put more of my energy into this class.

I am so enjoying reading and seeing everyone's work!!!!!

June M.

Each lesson hits home with me. I am guilty of spending time on things that keep me away from my studio. Many are good things, family, friends, community. It's a balancing act and sometimes I need to tip the scales more in my favor.

I took a break from clearing out my studio to do the exercise. I wanted to do something different. I looked in my box of give away items and found a necklace of squarish glass beads from the dollar store. Since I was getting rid of it anyway, what did I have to lose? I counted out 100 beads. They looked like mosaic tiles. I played with them and glued them on a piece of cardboard with a design and created a tile. Flat. Boring. Expected. Unsatisfying.

So, I counted out 100 more beads. I played more. I kept asking “what if...”. Finally I started stacking them. Stacking in small groups made them more fun so I started gluing them together in funky shapes. I wanted each stack to stand on its own. I had to hold them while the glue set so they didn't topple over. Talk about obsessive! I lost track of time and I have no idea how long I spent making my bead stacks. I still didn't know what I was going to do with them, but they were more interesting and I was having fun.

I had to wait a few hours for them to dry, so I had to be patient. This was something I could not rush. When I returned I had many thoughts going through my mind about what they represented andhow to use them. I played with them for a while and I kept asking “what if...”. I tried many arrangements. They kept looking like a fortress or a wall and that's not what I wanted. I was in a good mood and I wanted that reflected in this piece.

As I worked and kept asking “what if I did this”. I was tapping into my curiosity. I have learned that if I can get to a curious state and ask questions then issues and frustrations aren't so scary. It works for business, life, and art. So, I made a question mark to remind me how important is is for me to be curious. At the end I added a few beads on the background to remind me where I started.

I'm going to keep it. It was trash and now it's something meaningful to me. It will serve as a visual reminder for me when I'm frustrated.

Jane M.

Really big or really obsessive

I was thinking about this whilst unpacking boxes and considering whether to keep the contents and put it in my new studio. I came a across a box of felt scraps , all similar colours and mostly left over from the first felt workshop I ever did. I kept them because I really liked the teacher and I thought they might come in useful. So in clear out mode I thought , right now they go in the bin , they have been sitting here just occupying space for more than three years and I really need to have less stuff . Then I looked at them again and thought there are loads, why don't I just put them all together and see what happens. I did not count them at this point , which I could have easily done, but began to arrange them  haphazardly to give a rough rectangular shape. I usually pin pieces together before felting , put then I don't normally deal in such small pieces. I was going to run out of pins, so I decided to just lay them out and then stitch them together . I tried at this point to count them but it was impossible , there are about 6o.

What I sense of achievement I had as I stitched , them together using invisible basting. I learnt this stitch from Jude Hill's Spirit Cloth site which I think is just wonderful. As I stitched I thought about the three pieces that the scraps originated from and enjoying sitting at my new sewing table in my far from completed new studio.

I couldn't stop there, I had to go on and felt them together.

I couldn't stop there, I had to go on and felt them together.

Small precious scraps

brought into the light of day 

Felt to mark a new time 



Maria S.

Again I am finding two things to consider in this week's lesson. 

First, the idea of a piece being either really big or really obsessive.  I, too, am always searching for that magic thing in a piece that draws viewer attention.  My first reaction to Jane's idea of big or obsessive was to think that you can't force yourself to work in a certain way.  It has to come from within.  I find myself thinking too much about what it is that people want and trying to work this way.  And, I've found that it doesn't work (who is it I'm trying to please here?)  I can't say yet what my thing is, I have to work on that.  After I spent the week thinking about big or obsessive and looking at the works that have been accepted into exhibitions, I see that Jane isn't far off.  There are so many textile pieces that fulfill these guidelines.  But does that mean it's all inclusive?  Hmmm....

And the second part of this week's lesson, for me, is about time.  It's a real issue for me.  I have so little time in the studio, that I feel I have to rush when I'm in there.  This of course leads to work that is not thought out properly, work that is so quickly done that many elements are missing or not considered.  When I work slowly and thoughtfully, it not only turns out better but I have more fun.  I know this, but still have a hard time remembering it.  I will make myself a large note to hang on my wall that says"Slow down and work with calmness and concentration"  Hope that works.

As my exercise this week I chose to play with 100 pieces of paper.  I used an old watercolor painting along with construction paper and a small thread sketch.  I knotted them with yarn.  This was really fun.  I could see an entire wall covered.

Jane O. M.


I decided to cut a 2x4 inch piece of fabric for each year of my life, which would be 77 pieces. I decided they had to come out of my box of scraps, and there must not be any duplication of fabrics. I decided to sew them end to end, with a decorative stitch on my sewing machine.

Went into the studio and got to work. I got into a good zone, and rummaged and cut and trimmed and ironed and stacked and sewed for hours. Pleasurable hours. Definitely got a little obsessive – down to lining them up and auditioning them for placement so I wouldn't have five green ones all together, etc.

Didn't get finished today. It will be interesting to see what my rested brain thinks of it in the morning.

A haiku reflecting on the meaning of my strip:

As years follow years

My path of life flows along

Filling me with joy.

What did I learn today? There was no frustration. I had a clear plan. I had a box of materials to work with. I have sewing skills and equipment. It just flowed. As I have begun the work of making art, being creative, I've experienced great frustration. I can't envision what I want to make. I have extremely limited experience and skills. I just can't conceive of myself as an artist - but I know I am an excellent sewer. This makes me think I set up demanding unrealistic expectations of myself, that I jumped into the deep end of the pool before some swimming lessons. The strip project was a combination of old and new, an original idea but using old skills – I think that is why it was satisfying, and do-able.


Finished up the strip. I want to dig through old photos and find a baby picture and attach it to the first strip – that is the one with butterflies. Each year I'll add a new piece.

Sue K.

Really Big or Really Obsessive

At this point, I still feel myself to be in a learning curve and trying to discover what it is I really want to do in either a Big or Obsessive way. Through my ongoing purging of things, I am approaching that question by discovering what I don’t want, and don’t need. 

As to Really Big, I have tended to work small mostly because of the space limitations in my work space. Since the current project will enlarge it considerably (eventually) I may be encouraged to go bigger in future. Somehow right now, something under four feet in any dimension feels comfortable, and bigger does not.

Really Obsessive was accumulating and storing (some would say, hoarding) all that stuff. But just in case there's a place for obsessive in my art endeavors, I am following one of the prompts. I have a box of buttons I’ve been collecting since I was a child. I discovered I could no longer get the lid on my button box, so I decided to take some out. I selected exactly 100 shell buttons. Now the lid fits back on (sorta). 

I have begun to sew o a bit of cross-stitch cloth, with some interesting cotton and metallic thread I found in the bottom of a drawer. The whole project fits into a baggie so it’s portable and available, and I can do it in my lap. It’s what the modern girls call “slow stitching” I think. I’m drawing the buttons out at random and stitching them on in different ways, sometimes filling in between with some little decorative stitches. It is very meditative. I always enjoy handwork when I get into it, but then I forget...My first session, about 90 minutes, resulted in this grouping. I’ll keep at it, though likely will not finish it during Week 5. I’ll share later, when it’s done. 

While I was working on this today, I had a visitation from my late father. When I was a kid, and asked him “whatcha doin’ Daddy?”, he used to answer “sewing buttons on eggs”. As I sat working on this little project today, and wondering why, I heard Dad’s voice say “sewing on eggbuttons”. My questions are answered for now.

Vernon S.

Be mindful of quotes you might be collecting that are inspirational but not instructive. I benefit more from substance... I need a direct assignment! A direct activity. That’s the stuff that GETS me somewhere. I need something real to work with. Some of the inspirational phrases we love most, tell us very little. For example the sentence: "If you treat the problems as possibilities, life will start to dance with you in the most amazing ways.” sounds great. I might want to keep it around for inspiration, but what does it actually mean? How do you turn “If you treat the problems as possibilities, life 

will start to dance with you in the most amazing ways...” into a practical application? How do you retrieve it from its lofty realm and use the iDEA

By understanding that art whetther visual, spoken, sung, performed, drawn,  or written uses metaphorical comparisons that although not exact or directly instructive are substance.  We cannot translate directy no matter how substantial.

Metaphor never touches directly, it only approaches , and we must find understanding through comining it with what we experience.  Wisdom comes from understanding what we have come to know.


Consider with humor, the statement,

I have no head because I cannot see it, but what dowe see in the mirror?  Is it real?  I personally do not relate to the artist Jane refers to.  You may, but I might suggest Arrabal, dali, rothko, Klee, Stella, Rauschenberg , Frankenthaler , Jusy Chicagoand numerous others, some I like, some I dislike, Just becausee I k=like it does not mae t art.  Now, I mst crawl back into my studio, now thaat I've stirred the pot.

Susan D.

Learning to Make and Take Time

I’m just now returning to class. I’ve been totally consumed lately with family needs and let what I need slide. Previously when I would drop my needs I didn’t even notice. This time I’m quite annoyed about it. I’m glad I was there and things are turning out well but I want my time. I have a lot to learn about making time and using my time differently. Perhaps I’m already doing some this in that the class is always on my mind. I find that I’m thinking about it, jotting things down on paper and doing lots of imagining. This is a very good thing for me.

I am obsessive. Big piece, small piece. Doesn’t matter. I’ve known this. 

At first 100 sounded like so many but then as I looked around my studio I realized that I have several 100+ collections. I don’t see the collections as a problem. The problem for me is more one of what happens or doesn’t happen around them. 

So for this exercise I quickly gathered 67 bits and laid them out on my work table. I actually did this on the first day we received the essay. I planned to clean things up a bit, play some and then do the glue thing but life happened. 

So, even though it’s a bit late and undone. I’m letting go of my should (it has to be done) and honoring my commitment to post. This is a very important part of the class for me. 

Gay M.

I have I have just written a piece I have called ‘I am Behind’ – some 700 words – exploring why and how I feel about that and then, just now, gone into CST Week 5 Review and found that I am not the only person worrying about getting ‘behind’.  Could I have saved time by reading that first, before I wrote this?  Maybe, but if, after reading that I had not written this, then I would have missed out on the experience I have had in the thinking about and writing of this.  So I am a slightly different person because I chose to write before reading – how much difference a choice (however small) can make!

Nothing in the world

is as bright and warm as our Sun

Yet, while cheering our days, for fading our colours and ageing our skin,

nothing but Time surpasses it.


Treasure both

Chris C.

This week’s exercise inspired me to pull out a quilt I have been working on for over 10 years. My kids dubbed it the ‘Forever Quilt’ a long time ago, it just keeps going year after year. However  it has been quite a while since I last worked on it.

This was the first quilt I made for myself and the first where I had a vision that was not referenced by a quilt pattern I had seen anywhere. It is based on a piece of cast metal flipped and rotated to make the shape of the central panel. This was carefully cut out of one piece of fabric  with ultra-sharp embroidery scissors and the rest was added to as the years went by – which may explain why the design is a little piecemeal. The whole thing is done in needle-turn applique, which is probably the slowest process known to mankind.

Which gets me to the point. Jane’s words reminded me of the immense feeling of calm I had while I was sewing this quilt. I worked on it exclusively  for quite a long time as I needed ‘me time’ and the stitch, stitch, stitch routine I developed for a couple of hours every night were meditative and satisfying. The progress was slow but consistent and strangely I found that as I grew closer to the end I slowed the pace because I was reluctant for it to finish. I added the borders and continued the methodical stitching and was genuinely sad when the final piece was sewed down. To prolong it a little further I decided that the self-pattern on the outer border fabric wasn’t distinct enough so I painted over each stroke with gold paint – again some preparation and experimentation then a mechanical, meditative process.

I have since been quilting it, foolishly also by hand. Foolish because I have moved on and there is still a lot to do (it’s about 60 inches wide), but I feel it needs the handwork to make it complete. Sadly it spends longer and longer in the WIP pile.  As I pulled it onto my lap last week it was a nice reminder to slow down sometimes and enjoy the experience of a slow-cooked quilt. I am so agitated to build my experience with surface design that I am in danger of losing my connection with the joy of stitching.

However it has also reminded me that it has been right for me to move on. I don’t think I have time to spend 10 years on quilts any more (I’m in my late 50s) and I love the spontaneity of dabbling in thickened dye and machine applique. I guess my next step will be to bring  the two together.

Btw, the writing at the top is Hindi, from a Bollywood song. I was learning Hindi a few years ago and had my teacher translate a line which I thought appropriate “Oh, may I not go insane!”

Sammy C.

Week 5 – Big or obsessive?

I am coming to the slow realisation that I am totally obsessive.

I have just spent the past weekend totally away from technology, in a beautiful spot in the Australian bush, contemplating so many things – the beauty around me, the pleasure of spending time with real valued friends, spending quality time with my husband, taking time to see things in detail and as a whole, appreciating light and dark, shadows and crisp starlight, rough and smooth, fragile and solid, listening to the crackle of fire and taking photos of it, watching, watching, watching… It was the epitome to me of the poem in our essay for week five by Rumi.

It was an experience in slowing down and now that I am back in the hurried world, I feel out of sorts and out of place. Recognising that has helped me to understand a few things about how I work and where I am at –

I love to work unhurried but it usually ends up frenzied because of the obsessive detail I put in, although that detail is not necessarily for the eye to see, it may have been the process of thinking that has been obsessive.

The scale is not relevant to me, big or small, although I am not good at adjusting time when the scale is bigger and that can get me into that frenzy I mentioned before.

Where do I wish I was?

In that place where there seems to be an abundance of time to do my work, no interruptions, no outside distractions, no restrictions. Take me back to that place in the mountains where I felt time passing rather than the oblivion of living where it happens in an apparent blink of an eye.  

My spiritual walk reminds me daily to be still (Ps 46:10), to know the greatness of God and this is an important component of who I wish to be and the art that I will produce from now on.

Picture 1.  BIG - My studio floor is a piece I did before putting all my stuff in there. It was a great experience and allowed my inner rebel to break out. The concept of a light bulb exploding with bursts of colour really speaks about my inner thought process of random bursts of inspiration that haven’t yet found a surface or medium of visual expression.

Picture 2. BIG - 2metres of silk dyed with a salt resist is an example of me breaking out of small detailed obsessions into the freedom and expression of fabric dyeing. This was a pure experiment and I had so much fun.