Sandra O.

Thank you Jane for your Week Six and Seven Lessons with very good strategies.  I didn’t write last week as I didn’t know what to write.

During the two years when I was studying, and from my resulting own journey since then, I have and am still working through these issues in my current practice.  I haven’t done them in as focused a way as you’re directing Jane, and would like to do so.  But with the textile work that I’m currently undertaking, I can’t do that within this 10 week period.  However, the challenges, questions and strategies are certainly informing me and challenging me in the midst of my current work and I believe that I’m growing stronger as a result.

I’m not sure that writing is always the only and best daily practice, during the past year I and others in a small group have been making a daily small collage card, and other artists I know draw daily.  I guess that’s part of knowing yourself and what works best for you.

Carol H.

I made an inventory of my skills and, after rating them, decided that three of them are things that I don’t really enjoy doing any more:  piecing, making clothes and knitting.   I’m not sure I ever did enjoy making clothes! It was an enormous relief and release when I wrote down that these are things that I won’t do any more.   The inventory also made me realise that what I want to concentrate on, certainly for the moment, is working with gradations of colour in my weaving.   This is something I have done in the past and have wanted to get back to for some time.   It’s something I think I’m good at and that I love to do.   It’s a lot of work dyeing the gradations and making the warps, but worth the effort.     One of the things I love to do (and I think one of my strengths) is ‘playing’ and designing once I have the warp on the loom.

The skills I need to strengthen are regarding the warping and the sett in my weaving.   I need to get better and quicker at putting on a warp instead of struggling around trying to remember the order in which things need to be done.    With sett, I need to try out different setts rather than sticking with one I’m not quite sure about.   I’d also like to learn more about colour.

I have several pieces that I wove some time ago.   They are double cloth, using two warps each with a different gradation of greys.   The photos show the two sides of one of the pieces.    With the interaction of the two warps I was trying to get a slightly three dimensional look.   I’m not sure that this comes through in the photographs but it does in reality.    Trying to study the piece dispassionately, I decided that I had almost achieved the effect I was trying to create but that it could do with a bit of technical improvement if I was to do it again.

Sammy C.

Authentically me?

Alignment and finding it really resonated as I read it has with so many others in our class.

Jane asked us to think about what is authentically me, what do I love to do and what I’m good at doing?

I love to do –

Watch people, relate with them and work them out

Try to capture this essence of a person in drawings

Make things for people – food, clothing and quirky gifts

What I’d love to do -

I am particularly captured by sunlit lanes of tree trunks (especially Australian gum trees) with their foliage dappled with light. I want to capture this essence in a picture. Maybe all those tree trunks represent the people who have travelled through my life and touched me in some way? I think that’s an ‘aha’ moment!

I am good at –

Relating to people

What I can do –

  • Cook
  • Sewing
  • Crocheting
  • Sketch
  • Fabric and colour
  • Paint

Where does my alignment factor into these things?

Jane says to figure out what I love to do and what I’m good at doing and when I’m doing them at the same time, I’m in alignment. Part of my journey has been to understand why I want to be an artist and why I stop myself from just doing it, which seems so easy for others.

As a part of making steps toward alignment, I have just enrolled in the next two units of my University degree – one of them is a practical unit wholly devoted to drawing. This is a skill that I want to re-hone and utilise more fully as an artist to build a body of work, which is my goal for 2016. The other one is a written unit on art and fashion which marries into my two passions – clothing and art.

Sandy G.


1: Skills

    Graphic design:

        Balance, proportion, organizing information

        Color and composition

        Adobe InDesign: good

        Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop: needs improvement!


    Jewelry design and production (beads- not wire):

        color, design & craftsmanship


    Flower Arranging

        team captain on Flower Guild at church

        love flowers….but church can really suck you in, time wise

        i prefer my weekly kitchen window arrangements….



        acceptable at piecing….definitely not perfect…getting better

        learning machine quilting on a 16” machine



        been there, done that….still have a lot of yarn…pick it up to take on long car trips



        people, stuff….i creating order out of chaos! (but if you saw my sewing studio 3             weeks ago you would not believe that!…..and my bead studio is a total                 disaster….awaiting time for a redo….


2: Things I like to do:

    Whatever i do, i need to learn something with each activity…and hopefully build on it if I             like doing it!

    designing/arranging things: on the computer, art exercises, quilt ideas/plans

    picking out fabric….playing with the colors!

    machine piecing: mostly i find it meditative (tho, not always!!!!)

    quilting with walking foot: straight lines!

    hand sewing: Alabama Chanin style; not sure i love hand piecing; intrigued by                 embroidery, especially Sue Spargo style….although i don't know if i have the             patience

    I like flower arranging…but it does get time consuming at church….

    I like yard work: the creating order out of chaos part! 

    exercising: walking, swimming, CrossFit… 


3. Wannabe Skills:

    fabric dyeing

    getting better at designing/sewing clothes


    web design: learning Muse - find it very hard to sell myself!

    getting better at Creative Suite: Am proficient in InDesign, but need more skill with using             Illustrator and Photoshop

    free motion machine quilting

    fabric design….maybe….

    what i want most of all is the confidence to design something and execute it with                 abandon! not worrying about what anyone thinks! but doing it just because I like it         or want to make/do it….it usually takes me forever to start a project as i have too             many choices…i really liked the exercise of limiting choices….

4. Perfection:

my initial reaction to this question was that i don't know that i can achieve perfection….but then, what is perfection…to whom? if i make something that i love, that should be good enough! if someone else likes it, all the better! but should not make a difference!

i think i am a jack of all trades, master of none! I am always rushing to meet the next deadline, make enough jewelry for the next trunk show…finish a quilt for a friend who needs a boost…i would love to slow down and enjoy the process of creating/making more….but i have SO MANY ideas/supplies/projects that it is difficult to focus…

I have started reading Sacred Contracts and hopefully that will help me get a little more aligned!

Part Two:

This is a piece that resulted from a request from Sawgrass Technologies to our Modern Quilt Guild. They do specialized printing: big displays at airports, etc and also fabric for various applications and they wanted to get into the quilting market. They wanted some quilters who were willing to design fabric and print it out on their printers and then make quilts for them to use for marketing at quilt shows..It is funny that this is so purple as it is not one of my go-to palates! I started with a photo i took of one of our hydrangeas. then i designed the patterns in Illustrator… it was fun! I like the result. i think it has rhythm and balance and i like the wonky blocks…I am not happy with my machine quilting! but am proud that i didit myself….

Stella W.

Is alignment perfection?

Not sure what alignment or perfection is related to my work. I have 2 strands of work, sculpture and drawing.

I have 2 types of sculpture, absurdly birds and reconstructed gloves. Of the two I love my glove sculptures because they originated as reaction to a profound personal experience therefore they have a greater depth of meaning than the birds. I am keen to develop my glove sculptures further.

I have 2 types of drawing, life drawing and drawing from imagination. My absurdly birds originated from my imaginative drawings. People who see them like them. I could develop them as puppets or animate them mechanically. (Digitally would be interesting too) although they are popular, I still prefer to develop my glove sculptures.

I attend life drawing events for the joy of it. It is an end in itself. 

Meegan M.


Generally, a peaceful, subtle piece. Love of the cedar trees, now gone, is evident. They are now in spirit form and have become very two-dimensional, which was appropriate for their first phase. But now, I wonder if some expansion could open things up into more joy for you in the creating again.

What if perspective was used to create more of a spatial feeling? Challenge that desire of yours to improve your drawing skills!

Would adding more circular or linear elements of the cedar roots add to this composition?

Have you considered the addition of any non-tree elements?

What would the addition of color do?

I understand you were recently introduced to the symbolism of the vesica piscis, the two intersecting circles that create an “eye” in the center.

How might you play with this interesting symbol and lovely shape?

What other shapes and feelings can you generate using your technique of layering white tissue paper and silkspan?

How many more layers than the present six can you experiment with?

Also, how can you triple the size of this piece and explore its capacity to communicate on a large scale?

Nicely done; in good alignment with your sense of joy and your skills at the time you began, but it’s time to move forward and open things up a bit. Keep going if you truly feel that there’s still juice here for you. Remember what Sarah said: “Trees are patient…they grow very slowly!"

Heidi F.

I am a bit of a multicrafter, I have a background in fashion and I am good with sewing - clothing and soft furnishing. However my heart is not in that area. I really enjoy making cushions, preferably handmade felt. I have been trying to narrow down my desert island craft, and my choice would be felt, beading, embroidery and found objects, that would keep me happy. I still have a lot to learn, and I am not yet a master. I like the quirky and the unusual, whether that be felted jewellery, cushions or wallhangings.

This piece started life during Really big or Obsessive. Trying to use something I had. I liked this small piece of felt, which has been embellished with beads, rope and a bit of stitching. I feel that it still needs something else to give it wow. The white ribbon was needle felted in place and could do with being a bit straighter, string was used for the circles and it is a bit to thick for the stitching to be smooth. But I like it as it is, I might continue to add to it as I go along, but for now I am pleased.

The coild felt bracelet was a happy accident, it started life as a necklace, but I was not happy with the way it had felted and it was too long, so I put it in the washing maching and it drastically shrunk and no longer fit for a necklace (unless doll sized). So I turned it into a bracelet, the join needs a bit more thought, but is currently stitched and I think it could do with more embellishment, but I love it. 

I am my own worst critic, I find that if I show pieces to family and friends, they are always positive. I can't always tell whether they are being nice or whether they genuinely like my creations. Not every piece created is going to be fabulous in my mind, but I need to find that balance.

Lisa C.

What Do You Love and What Are You Good At? 

Part 1: Skills

Make a list of your skills.  Evaluate each one in terms of how you are at it.

Machine Piecing – this is the skill I am most comfortable with in my fiber art, probably because I have had the most practice doing this (Advanced)

Machine Quilting – love the texture that quilting creates (Intermediate)

Hand Stitching - adding texture to my fiber art (Intermediate)

English PaperPiecing (Intermediate)

Applique – lots of practice (Intermediate)

Color Sense (Intermediate)

Technical writer – I can describe things accurately and can master “to-do” lists with the best of them, but can’t say that writing down my most intimate thoughts and feelings is my cup of tea (Intermediate)

Machine Sewing – used to sew clothes using commercial patterns in my early days but abandoned it for a rotary cutter and some quilting classes in the mid 1980’s and never looked back(Intermediate)

Surface Design – starting to explore this area(Beginner) 

Hand Dyeing – have completed about three sessions with friends and on my own (Beginner)

Painting – no formal art skills in painting but I love to hold a brush in my hand and use acrylic paint to highlight details in my fiber art (Beginner)

Part 2:  Heart’s Desire

Desert Island Test - rate each of the skills based on whether you enjoy using them or not

Skills that I enjoy the most:

Surface Design

Hand Dyeing

Hand Stitch

Machine Piecing

Machine Quilting


Part 3:  Wannabe Skills

Write a new list of skills you want or need to learn, and then another of skills you want to strengthen.

Skills to Learn

Expand my repertoire of surface design techniques and materials to include:

Monoprinting – multicolor, fabric, paper

Rusting fabric – have never tried this, would like to experiment

Metal leaf lamination

Waxing paper

Linocut printing

Discharging fabrics using bleach and discharge paste

Stenciling with Shiva paint sticks

Create my own stamps with blue foam printing blocks and experiment with their use

Transfer paints – experiment on paper, then move on to fabric

Acrylic ink – experiment with its use in my work

Shearfabrics – think this could be an interesting way to add layers to my surface design

Dyeing fabric using natural dyes – could add some interesting hues to my color palette

Other related skills that I would like to learn include:

Sketchbook and journal use and discipline

Use of drawing to explore themes in my work

I-Pad drawing and painting skills – introduced to a few interesting “apps” but haven’t yet taken the opportunity to experiment and build skills

Skills to strengthen

Developing my artistic “eye” –  knowing the right elements to include in a piece

Hand dyeing fabric with Procion dyes

Machine quilting – always room for improvement here

Screen printing – have dabbled a little, but need much more practice to become adept at it.  Would like to explore breakdown screen printing further

Paper lamination – have done the workshop experience, andhave included some elements in my work, but need much more practice

Using Inktense pencils to intensify color

Painting with thickened dyes- stencils, lines, scraping

Incorporating text – would like to improve my ability to write text using squeeze bottles and thickened dyes

Part 4:  Perfection

Can you quantify what it would take in order to be completely satisfied and IN LOVE with something you made?

I would mount my completed piece on my studio wall and really look at it, then ask myself:   “Is there anything I would do differently or change?”  If the answer is no, then I have come pretty close.

Themes and Variations

Analyze a piece you like – based on alignment, strengths, weaknesses, and perfection.  Acknowledge what really worked and what you would do differently if you had it to do again. 

The Piece:

First in a series of quilts inspired by tree rings (36” x 36”).  This piece was juried into our local SAQA exhibition in Burlington, Ontario, Canada in 2014


Accurate piecing

Machine quilting that supports the theme 

Hand work – multitude of stitched “marks” within quilted tree ring motif provide wonderful texture to the piece when viewed up close

Maple tree vignette imbedded within the pieced section

Layers of tree ring motifs within this piece – tree rings in printed fabric, tree form in the inset space, machine quilting motif

Asymmetry of the color block section within the piece

Different fabric textures - use of linen, silk and cotton

Restrained use of color – most of quilt is a neutral linen and commercial cotton with pops of color provided by the silk bars


Use of variegated thread to machine quilt tree rings “blurs” the banding of each ring section where used (although the variegated thread used in the linen background area adds a quiet texture to the piece)


Love the hand stitching in this piece.  Borders on the obsessive, I know, but it provides the texture that I love in the quilted medium.  Not a single one of the hand stitched marks shows through on the back of the piece.

Like the tree vignette within the piece.  Draws in the viewer.

What I Would Do Differently

Would add a ring of outer bark to the exterior of the quilted tree ring – perhaps using a strip of hand-dyed cheesecloth crinkled and stitched in place to suggest the roughness of the outer bark

Adjust thread selection in machine quilting to provide more pronounced color banding of the rings when viewed from a distance – color choices and thread weight

Would have made the quilted tree ring shape a little more asymmetrical to replicate what you actually see in nature

Suzy B.

 I had a hard time with lesson 6. I just didn’t want to do it! I finally went outside with my notebook and wrote and thought, watched the bees and humming birds and wrote and thought. I think I will get something out of it when I go back over it, maybe this winter when it’s dreary and rainy. 

Quite honestly, I don’t try to analyze my work or consciously think about color wheels, or principles of this or that. I never show my work to anyone until I think it is finished and has been on my wall for a few weeks. Sometimes, I discover it’s not really done and needs more attention. 

This quilt is part of a series I’m doing. Riches to Rags. It’s quite a departure from my previous work. I’d never done hand stitching. I like it a lot, the only thing I might change is the circle at the very top. I might put another raggedy hand dyedpatch there instead.  

Kerstin E.


Alignment was a difficult word.Even if I have dictionaries both as books and on the internet it has been hard to find a translation into Swedish that seem relevant. I think I have figured out from Janes text what alignment is meant to represent in this Workshop but it has been difficult to get exactly the right context. But besides language difficulties this has been an interesting week. 

To figure out what you are good at is challenging. In Sweden we are still under the influence of the “law of Jante” which says that you shall not think you are something and you shall not think you are better than anyone else. That are hard rules to live by and they probably came from that very strict religious people that had strong influence about 100 years ago. So for many Swedish people it can be hard to say that you are good at something and even worse to say that you are better than most people. 

When it comes to my own creative sides I suddenly felt that I am not good at anything. I can a lot of different things but have jumped between things so I can a lot but nothing very deeply. To figure our what I want to do is one of my reasons for taking this class. This week I really have had to think about it. Some of the things I do, like knitting, is more a sort of craft to make something useful. That is good to be able to do but it is not the creative side I want to develop. The distinction between craft and art is something I also feel is strange. I think that much craft can be art as well. Can someone who does things that can be used not call themselves artist? I have been thinking about this a lot this week. I do bookbinding but I do the books in my own way with cloth and paper I choose. Sometimes I do my own bookcloth. And then I fill the book with my own sketches, patterns and words. Is that art? Is the handmade book itself art or does it transit into art when I draw pictures in it?  

Even if I like fabric and yarn I feel that it is the paper that I come back to. Paper and pens, colours and words. When I get creative ideas it is in that direction my thoughts go. Maybe I will feel differently when I start to work with my new loom, but I think it will take some time to train my technique at weaving. I will start with some simple rugs just to play with stripes and colours and see were it leads me. Will my rugs be art or craft?

So my conclusion after much thinking is that it is the paper and pens I would like to go forward with. But not just flat paper, you can use paper in a lot of ways. 

To make myself to feel that I can something I have taken some photos from my sketchbooks and done a photo collage. And looking at them I feel that I have learnt a lot but that I also has a lot to develop and that feels very good. It is only 33 photos so I have a way to go to make them part of a 100-project. 

The other picture is a sort of sketch/pattern that I am pleased with. I will continue to play with sketches, preferably in one colour, in this way. 

Cynthia R.

This workshop was an inspirational focus for me. I have needed to do this, but didn’t know that this is what I needed. The understanding of Alignment present or not present in my work both now and as I go forward is like a plumb line, a way of measuring. The list of strengths and weaknesses was a bit challenging. I’m hard on myself and often can’t see any strengths, only that I’m falling short. Which leads into the subject of perfection. 

I began to move outside my comfort zone in my art explorations because I applied some words of wisdom I had often applied to other things in my life. “If you demand perfection or nothing, you usually get nothing.” This helped me start. I had often talked myself out of doing something because I wanted to get it all figured out in my head first, then there was no risk of failure (I thought). But I missed a lot of “doing” with this block. This phrase is how I freed myself to take the first steps in making. It was incredibly liberating for me. Now I have reached a place of some confidence in what I can do, so I want to get better and improve my skills and strengths. I am still working toward the kind of perfection Jane is talking about where things line up reaching some kind of synchronization of skills, ideas and joy. I see the value in knowing what that might look like so you can recognize it when it happens. 


Please feel free to comment and critique the pieces I have included here. 

They are two pieces I am proud of, I enjoyed making them, but I have a gut feeling that they are not what they could be - not perfect. So, I sat down and tried to analyze them. They feel incomplete to me, like they could be stronger and I’m  not sure how. I do see where I could improve on some basic skills. I just wrote what works and what doesn’t work in my eyes. 

The first one is called “A Controlled Burn”. It was created in response to someone else’s piece that had a theme of smoke, fire, matches. Three of us responded to the one original piece. I was inspired one day visiting a friend in the country when smoke rolled over the hill behind her house. Walking up the hill I could see the patches of blackened earth, burned stubble and bits of flame. It was a controlled burn. What works: the use of rusted fabric, the layering and texture. What doesn’t work: not a clear focus, could have more red and the smoke could extend up outside the top of the piece creating a more “smoky” effect. Not sure I completely achieved the content I was after. 

The second one is called “Bless the Spine:. It was also in response to a piece. The other work was a photograph of a book spine with arabic lettering blown up to focus on a detail, and digitally blurred around the edges. I was inspired by the photograph which looked like a human spine to me as well as a book spine. I recalled a poem by Mary Oliver that is a kind of blessing on the body. She ends it with “Bless the spine for it is the whole story.” What works: the texture and layering, the overall effect of both a human and book spine, the silk and gauze resembling skin and tissue as well as agin g parchment pages of a book. What doesn’t work: the shading could be more defined and the center “spine” could have more definition. It’s just kind of blah.  I didn’t want to over work this, but I may have underworked it. 

Sarah D.

What does perfection look like to me

Perfection to me is using a combination of skills - photography, painting, cloth, embroidery, printing, weave. I imagine imagery combined with texture, detail, painterly areas. I don't know where the writing (it was on my skills list) comes in but I would like to use it somehow too.

I found perfection weaving and printing years ago. I had great success with those methods. I enjoy designing and making fabric. However, now, the thought of all the preparation that goes into weaving sends me to drink! Its so time consuming and laborious. Weaving demands a lot of patience and time. It can be very frustrating. Part of me is patient and I can do it, but I have recognised it's not enough and it doesn't totally fulfil me. I love it when a warp is on and weaving is going like a dream of course. Especially love weaving on a big dobby loom, as I love the physical side. I love painting too as its physical, it can be spontaneous and quick. You can be very expressive with it like dancing. And I love dancing. That is on my skills list as well haha. I need an expressive outlet. I realised on my degree that weaving wasn't the whole answer for me so I taught myself how to print and started printing on simpler cloths that I wove. That worked.

So for me it's got a lot to do with combining the different parts of my personality and skills. Expressive, physical, emotional, sentimental, organised, humour, contrasts....

Photography has always been a starting point, but maybe I can now find other ways of using it and find ways to use writing too. Transfer printing for example. Maybe I don't need to weave at all. Maybe embroidery will do or maybe I can find a much simpler way to weave and combine that. 

I wrote the above yesterday. When coming back to it today and rereading it, other thoughts sprung to mind. I realised I still love textile design and using designs within products. Not sure if my work will be one offs or designs for repeats at the moment. Visualising the future and perfection, I imagine both. Also memories of why I chose textile design for a degree and a career popped into my head.....because I love woven cloth and pattern. It's in my blood. Of course I don't have to actually weave it myself. I could embellish, print or paint onto it. I could also find other ways of making fabric.

Mary D.

Week 6

Skills evaluation!

•    Sewing skills, both dressmaking and quilt piecing….but having made 6 bed quilts I know I prefer to experiment with various blocks and new designs rather than make big quilts. Having made what I finally consider to be a perfect dress ( under the guidance of a great dressmaker), do I just want to stop there or will I continue to make the odd thing to wear…..I could end with a few more UFO’s in bags and abandoned. These must be located and removed from studio….decluttering is a huge process and still on going! 

•    Machine embroidery and free motion quilting, again on a smaller scale.  I do have a quilting frame, but am having difficulty using it with my domestic machine….so do I want to stick with it and improve or do I need a machine with a decent long throat? Or is this all a whimsy that I can do all my swirls easily and freely on a bigger scale?

So am I really hankering after making big work? Needs to be considered.

•    Hand stitch and embroidery, mostly repetition of stitch for pattern and texture.

•    Drawing and painting, but I struggle with oil painting, so I only do it occasionally.  I do find that it’s hard work to achieve the loose paint marks that I wish to use while still capturing the essence of the scene.  It is a skill I want to work on, but don’t feel ready just yet for various emotional reasons.

•    Dying fabric, space dying and rust dying I love the unexpected results and the challenge of using them.  Actually I like the idea of using any found objects and working on how to incorporate them into work.

•    Print….I just love all forms on paper and some on fabric. Perhaps this would be the best option to develop my design ideas and just have fun with them and see if I can create original work.  It might be difficult though to shed what I have absorbed from a huge number of other textile artists over the years!

•    Very rusty photoshop skills….through lack of use. I always just considered it a tool for design development that I needed to master to keep up with the youths I was teaching! So perhaps it’s something I can let go of, seeing as I have retired from that work, and I like to experience physical hands on stuff… real colour etc, not virtual. 

 I might be tempted to go for an obvious easy solution. Is there an old idea lingering, that it has to be a struggle to be of value??

•    Having taught various other crafts over the years, and also been a workshop junkie I think I there are lots of other skills that I could call on, but it’s narrowing my focus that is the challenge. And perhaps putting off the idea of attending more workshops…..nearly feels like an addiction!

Anne W.

I have a postcard size box set of Hiroshige's woodblock prints from his 'Tokaido' series. A few months back I finally got round to trying to learn/teach myself to weave and after a few experiments decided to create a weaving from 'Odawara', Station No 10. 

I have also recently rediscovered, after about 15 years, the more creative side of my thinking I can access by writing with my non-dominant hand. What I have written below is what my 'Inner Anne' said in response to the question, "So what do you think about this weaving?"

I like it, it looks satisfying and complete. I'm not sure if it needs the bottom bit, the blue and green. It needs to be bigger. It needs some yellow in the middle. It would be much, much better to pick your own photo. This was good to help you learn, but it's not real to you. Looking over at the pastel sketch on the box (this is from one of my photos of 'Kayakoy', an historical ghost town in Turkey), that would be much better. Also think about the lives and and feelings of the people who live there. I'm not sure what yours is about except an expression of someone else's expression of what they saw and how they saw. What's yours? This is a skill, technique piece. It's not you. 

It's strengths are its palette, it's structure and how you have matched the original. It's a competently produced and designed piece. I think you did very well and showed you have real potential to take this weaving further although I know you're not sure about that. I would also in another one add other things, objects, into it, make it more you. Break the rules.

Although this reads very differently to how I would normally write when I think and 'compose' a piece of writing, the words feel authentic and true.

Julie S.

I was totally into having a super duper sort out this week. I kept going back and having a go. Now, I was also asking myself was this because I was totally phased by the perceived amount of work we had to do? Possibly. Doesn’t matter now because the clearing out has cleared out my head and moved some things forward. And now I am tackling the questions in a systematic way. I’ve even put the skills list onto a spreadsheet…see, all those corporate years weren’t wasted. I’m even going to create a graph or scatter diagram so I can see at a glance the joy index of the work I do.

Something has happened to me. Going to the studio (I’ve stopped calling it the attic) has become a part of my daily routine. Those time slots available to do small tasks are taken advantage of in a productive way. Excited, as my friend says.

I was struggling to focus on what seems important at the moment. Then I read some of my journal notes and perfection leapt out at me. Perfection to me is a combination of making my own work and selling it, and hopefully working for a long time with the charity I work for. This is an arts collective for people with a learning disability. I volunteer with them and also work for them. I have learnt so much here and really enjoy it. So that is my ideal perfect life. As to my work….. I believe I have struggled with my butterfly mind that seems to be sending me all over the place and has done for many years. I can never seem to decide exactly what I want to do. The skills audit and the focus of this experience are helping with that aspect. There are also ideas of what I think I want to do that may just have to go. Yet I am also questioning who exactly am I trying to please as I sure as hell know it isn’t me!

I want to share this with you. It’s called “scaredy chickens out at night”


I made it a few years ago and I totally love it. To me this is perfection. Compared to things I’ve done that are in a similar style, this stands out and continues to satisfy me. I’m writing about when I made this and trawling my memory banks for the experience.

This is perfection to me in a way that the bathtime temptress isn’t yet they still employ the same ideas of construction. I wonder if it’s something to do with intent? The chicken piece was an experimental, play and see what happens piece. The Temptress piece was me trying to start a production line of work. I know that I hate the black line that was drawn with a textile pen. This is where I now understand I need to take TIME to make so the integrity of the piece remains intact and I am happy with it. Churning out is not an option if I hate the end product.

 Bathtime Temptress

 Bathtime Temptress

Betsy M.

What I Do Well    

  • Saying NO                         
  • Free association 
  • Speculate in real estate: Buy/ renovate/ sell
  • Think / envision in 3D
  •  Write: articles, instructions, How To, memoir, reviews/ critiques, collate & put together programs (ie. group shows) descriptions
  • Great sense of color/design when working with fiber/ fabric & architectural space
  • Free Form Knit
  • Free Form Crochet
  • Free Form Weaving
  • accessories from repurposed felted clothes
  • Hand process/ hand dye/ hand spin fiber into art yarn to use in my fiber art work
  • Repurpose silk clothes by shredding and over dying for weaving
  • Sew: majored in textile & clothing design
  • Garden
  • Arts & crafts with kids
  • Step up to the plate when stuff has to be done
  • Owned & operated a demanding business working in the building trades/ kept the business end under control along with generating all design work.
  • Worked well with clients/ listened to them and interpreted what they wanted to achieve.
  • Really good eye for making something out of nothing / seeing through the obvious for potential uses & acquiring things for unusual purposes (raw materials) so my work is MINE. 
  • Treat my suppliers well & pay them on time
  • Loyal to my suppliers / generates loyalty in return
  • Give credit where it is due
  • Don’t lie, sugarcoat or gossip
  • Even keeled/  don’t have hissy fits/ Professional/ work hard/ Meet deadlines
  • Find accomplished people and delegate
  • Sit down to work and let my muse take over
  • Click with people who interest me/ have the creative spark
  • Read books & magazines

Not My Bent

  • Painting of any kind
  • Flat art/ sketching/ drawing etc
  • Handy Andy Repairs/ stuff that requires mechanical aptitude
  • Ripping out & doing over
  • Keeping track of supplies/ as they come in/ as I use them in a project / as they need to be sorted out and put away after completing project
  • Finding appropriate markets for my work
  • Computer related things needed for a business/ generating & maintaining web presence etc./ exposure on social media
  • Tidying up upon completing projects
  • Networking
  • Small talk
  • Being around people I don’t have anything in common with
  • Big organized groups
  • Photographing my work
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Sorting out what should be considered an exploration in a new medium as opposed to jumping in whole heartedly

Been There/ Done That (Haven’t totally given them up…)

  • Sewing
  • Knitting & crocheting 
  • Processing fleeces/ dyeing fiber 

What I Want to Do

  • Write / Publish children’s books
  • Write /Publish Memoir
  • Wood Turning

What I Need to Do

  • Find appropriate audience for my weaving so I can sell it.
  • Sign up for one on one advice at Small Business Center/ Haywood Community College

What I Have Done So Far

  • Have gotten 6 weavings professionally framed & photographed.
  • Have taken 4 more to framer
  • Have resubmitted application to Southern Highlands Craft Guild
  • Am working on application to Artful Home
  • Am taking series of 6 seminars at Haywood Community College/ Small Business for Artists
  • Am taking series of 8 classes for Mac computer
  • Joined Haywood County Arts Council/ Selling work through Gallery 86, its gallery in Waynesville NC
  • Networking through this organization

Critique - “Layer Upon Layer”

This weaving represents perfection to me. After seeing a hand woven panel in a folding screen in a shop, I went home and figured out how the artist had woven one layer on top of another. I went on to experiment with this unusual technique and created this weaving. 

Why is this perfect? Because it involved my mind, body and soul. I was so delighted to figure out how to weave layers and go on to create something totally different from the panel I had seen. It took perseverance, patience, ingenuity and blind trust in what I was doing, as I was doing it. I worked from the bottom up and only had small portions of the weaving showing on the loom as I worked. I was delighted to unroll the finished product and see such a splendid, creation that reminds me of a piece of ancient art found in an excavation This represents a huge leap in my career as a weaver.

Cleo C.

Seeking Alignment—Week 6



            This was hugely important for me on so many different levels.  I read the essay several times and  found that answers to each question or challenge brought up new questions, challenges, and issues that needed further mental energy and honesty to clarify and enrich my creative life.


            Order, Discipline and Structure always help to clarify matters, so I decided, as suggested, to be methodical and move step by step to get an understanding of my urgesfor ‘making’, if, and how best, to follow them and move closer to alignment


Part 1   Skills                                 

                                         What I feel I do well


I enjoy writing.  I am at ease with composing short descriptive pieces, and have composed the odd poem -------Rating5/5                                                          


I am good at and enjoy hand sewing and embroidery. -----------Rating 5/5

 Something unusual and unexpected….. As one of the few persons here working with fabric I was asked to repair a few commercial quilts for friends.   I enjoyed the challenge, results were successful and I enjoyed cheating decay….more like re-making than making. -------------------------------------------------Rating 4/5   

                                                                                                     Rating 4/5 

Patchwork quilts and hangings with simple quilting -------- ----  Rating 4/5

Simple garment making --------------------------------------------------Rating 3/5                                                             


                                                What to keep….What to discard


All of the above----- I have too few skills to discard anything!

 Not confident or versatile enough not to try to learn new techniques either.  Sometimes I feel this fear that I need to learn new skills has me looking at and trying new techniques, making me…spread myself out when I should be concentratingand ‘aligning’ myselfwith the skills I am most comfortable with, to build self confidence.


                                                What needs improvement

Practice writing skills.

Practice to improve accuracy in cutting for piecing.

Experiment with hand sewing and learn new techniques in embroidery. 

Learn to make unusual garment patterns that could accommodate creative hand and machine embellishments.

Learn to become more adventurous with colour

Learn to draw

Learn to use simple tools like drills etc more comfortably



I don’t know about perfection.  I know how I feel when I am happy with what I’ve created. If I feel I have done the best I could have, with the materials and tools available, and feel that I have conveyed the message I meant to convey, it is perfect to me. 


Part 2   Review          

                                         Oscar theOctopus


I used a transparency designed for cyanotype and embellished the image with snippets of white net, and white and silver French knots to emphasize structural features. The whole image is outlined in simple running stitch.   I love doing cyanotype and have used it in several small and large pieces.   I enjoy hand stitching, so the embellishing was a happy choice for me.  I am pleased with the results.


 Here is the weak link, though. As often happens, I start with an ambitious plan and don’t carry it out.  This piece was to be one of several others making something larger, with a sea theme. It is still the only section done. I need to think why I sometimes abandon work, often after a good start.   I’m probably afraid that this is just a fluke and that the lucky streak will run out!   I need to build more confidence in my skills.


 I think Perfection can be, in many cases, in the eye of the beholder, or of the receiver of the artwork.  To the mother, for instance, the handmade card from her four year old is perfect.

Clearly, aspiring artists like myself, must strive hard to always do the best we can and to keep learning techniques to strengthen our craft and hone our skills.

 When making a cyanotype, as with this piece, there can be an element of surprise  due to variations in sun strength or from a sudden puff of wind on an unsecured area of the fabric.  I was happy to find that my print offered many opportunities for absorbing stitching.     

The search for alignment continues with the evolution of personal style, and the import of the work that is produced.

          “…. to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit”

Sue W.

Week 6 - What does Alignment Look Like to You

I made my skill list, which was very interesting to do - it contained many semi skills as well.  It made me realize the skills like Knitting, Crochet, Painting, Sewing, Patchwork, which I can do; I no longer want to do (will not want on my desert island)

But is made me realize more than ever that Tapestry and Art Weaving is what I want to concentrate on – my goals. It is weaving looms and plenty of fine textured wools for bending colours are what I want lots of on my desert island.

In order to further these goals I need to polish up my skills on Photoshop and quadruple cloth design - plus organize realistic amounts of time to be in the studio working away.

I have recently taken part in a textile exhibition with the following pieces of woven cloth (not tapestry)

(I am still on holiday in France so please excuse photos as from my iPhone – I wove 4 pieces but only 3 on phone!)

I wanted to work with the right angle triangles -

So planning these pieces

  1. 4 square pieces
  2. Work with a right angled triangle motif in different combinations (12 x12 threads in double cloth – I have a dobby 24 shaft Arm loom one of many in my studio)) 
  3. Different colour yarn for each piece
  4. Echo the colour yarn chosen for each piece with a stripe of same colour as triangles in a proportion on opposite side
  5. Attention to balance
  6. Side edges to be the same 2 colours on side edges of each piece: green on the left- blue on the right

So with these pieces joy was definitely in the room-

I loved the time I spent doing them (sometimes till 2 in the morning)

I loved working out all the proportions

I loved choosing the colours

And I achieved my brief

Do I sound a little self-satisfied…

How I want to take this forward – 

Using more colours in each piece but keeping the space/proportions in the middle of cotton and linen – perhaps working with other geometric shapes – I have a lot of playing around to do.

Michaela M.

Part 1:

My skills, in no particular order are:


Mixed media painting including stencilling, stamping

Painting using watercolours or acrylics

Collage - both  and fabric




Embroidery - both hand and machine

Printmaking - in particular collagraphs, lino prints and Gelli plate prints on both paper and fabric and then working into them with paints or stitch

Paper crafts - various things such as weaving papers, making 3D items such as hats, mobiles etc.


Jewellery making


Nuno Felting

Making bags

Part 2:

Of these I would say I really enjoy all of them but I guess my real favourites are drawing, mixed media and collage, but with both paper and fabric with some elements of printing and stitch here and there!

Part 3:

What I would like to improve on and I continue to work at is my use of colour and composition which I feel often let down my work.  I would also like to get to grips properly with sketching quickly - I can sit for several hours doing a drawing but struggle to do a quick thumbnail which would often be useful!  I have taken various classes  to learn more about Photoshop and various on-line drawing programmes but still am not very proficient with them.

Putting all of this down on paper makes me realise that I spread myself too thinly and try to do too many things!  I have often been told I am a butterfly and I do get bored easily and always want to try out the latest technique or gadget.  I know my time would be better spent just concentrating on a few of these skills and, hopefully, as I am gradually clearing out my studio I am realising that I can't do everything and I need to make choices.  So I am slowly getting there!

This has also made me aware that I am not really creating that much at the moment.  I am too often easily distracted and not focused but as I am de-cluttering I feel a clearer view is slowly coming into focus and I am feeling hopeful that I will eventually find out which direction I want to go in.

Cheryl C.

Inventory of Skills & Setting Priorities

I did a rather extensive skill inventory and am trying to glean the essence of what I learned from doing such. This is where I think I am today (tentative for now but this synthesis has been going on for months so perhaps I am beginning to clarify myself to me).

I love to piece and am good at it so keep that. Although I am best at designing a pattern to be pieced, I should challenge myself to be more improvisational with my pieced work.

I am interested in altering fabric (hand dyeing, stamping, resist work, reconstructed screen printing, etc) and have average skills but want to learn more so that is on the keep practicing and learning list. In addition, I would like the influence and challenge of incorporating my own fabrics (not just my hand dyed solids) into my work.

The serger has to go. I don’t even want to use it. It needs a better home.

Raw edge applique', large hand quilting (primitive style), and couching are skills I have that can be added to my work when needed. The main technique is piecing.

Try to substitute hand work projects for knitting in the evening and travel.

Quit organizing my studio. I spend too much time doing that. However, do get rid of stuff as run across if don’t fit with what I do now.

Keep BIG art as main emphasis but make smaller prototypes or parts as move up to the commitment of a BIG piece.

Use my photography as idea generators for my work. Sketch and abstract from these.

Commit to at least 4 designs (small or large) in a series or topic before giving up on it. Try to make these 4 cohesive or such that they demonstrate a small body of work.

Continue applying the art elements and principles to my work.

Keep journaling but don’t think I have to do it everyday. That just becomes a chore for me and then I quit altogether.

I feel that I still have too many skills and techniques on my list to make for a concise and clear voice, but progress is being made.