Monday 1 September 2014

Rambling about my creative process...

A few weeks ago, a couple of my very talented bloggy friends (Beth of Plum and June, and Deborah of Sunshine Through the Rain) asked if I'd be interested in participating in the Around the World Blog Hop. It seemed like a fun thing to do (and didn't involve making anything) so I said yes (obvs!). 

It pretty much involves answering a few questions about my creative process, so here goes!

     1. What am I working on?

I almost never work on just one thing at a time - my pile of half made quilts and quilt tops in kind of scary (think 30 minimum). I have just come to the end of an intensely stressful commissioned quilt, which has honestly burnt me out a bit, and I haven't had a whole lot of motivation for sewing this last week. I've mostly been doing computer work, preparing patterns and setting up things for the Tasmanian MQG (first meeting this week, I am SO excited!). 

Having said that, I am semi-actively working on two quilts at the moment. One is for my soon-to-be 10 year old son for his birthday in October (a maths quilt - he's a total maths geek, and mathematical symbols lend themselves perfectly to quilt blocks!!). The other is finishing up a commission quilt for a magazine (and I only have hand stitching the binding to go). I'm planning on starting a Liberty and Oakshott quilt very soon though - some kind of sampler quilt, possibly a Farmers Wife, or possibly from one of my Japanese quilt block books - so my list of works in progress is ever-growing :o) 

     2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

This is SUCH a hard question to answer. Mostly I don't feel like my work is especially unique - I tend to use traditional quilt blocks (sometimes with my own little twist) in quilts which is certainly not different from what others are doing in the quilt world. And I don't feel like I'm all that adventurous with my colour choices - I really like using a wide variety of prints in each of my quilts, but I tend to use a fairly restricted colour palette (3, 4 or 5 colours). As I'm starting to design more and more of my own patterns, this is something I think about quite a lot - but I'm still not sure what (if anything) makes my quilts differ from other people's work. 

I think where my work might differ from some others is in how I quilt my quilts - I custom quilt almost all my creations on my domestic machine, and try to be as original as I can with my quilting choices - not with the motifs, but my placement of quilting designs. I'm particularly proud of the quilting I did on my Block Flower quilt - I think the combination of matchstitck, straight line and curvy FMQ I did is a bit different from most of the quilting I've seen. 

     3. Why do I create what I do?

I started quilting when my partner was working interstate a LOT, so it started out being my 'me' time of an evening, and it really did help me keep sane while single parenting three kids for long stretches of time. I feel so relaxed when I'm sewing or quilting, it is the best mood-lifter I have ever discovered. As time has gone on, it has become more of an obsession, I guess - and I definitely feel my tension levels rising if I haven't sewn in a few days. I've always enjoyed making things, and the combination of colour, geometry, maths and art that is quilting just fits me perfectly. 

Now though, the biggest reason I make quilts is that I grew up surrounded by handmade (a mum who sewed our clothes and a dad who's a ceramic teacher does that to you!) - and so I love being surrounded by handmade cushions and quilts now. My kids all love snuggling under their quilts, which I absolutely love - each and every one of my quilts has been made to be used - and I'm still convinced our house could do with at least another dozen ;o) The fact that I"m a bit obsessed with designing quilts also helps!!

     4. How does my creating process work?

Most of the time I get an idea, choose a stack of fabric and/or start sketching it out or drawing up the design in EQ7. Rarely will I jump into a project without a good idea of where I want it to go (even my improv quilts have a pretty firm plan when I start them.) Some of these ideas get dumped pretty quickly, but others get me really inspired and need to be made. I try not to start coming up with new ideas if I have loads of projects on the go already - or I find I get a bit overwhelmed and lose interest in all of them. I think my most dangerous period with this is when I get a new shiny parcel of fabric and start getting ideas straight away. This does explain why I have so many half made quilts and quilt tops. 

In the last year or so I've been much better with this - I'm tending to work through a project from start to finish in a reasonably timely manner (months rather than years). I still rarely work on one thing at a time though - it takes a pretty special project to get me to focus solely on that (Sunshine Through the Rain was one such quilt. It's still my favorite ever.)

I also have to admit that if something doesn't start turning out how I'd envisaged, I do tend to have a bit of a tantrum and abandon it (again, the huge pile of WIPs) - but I do often go back to those projects after a month or a year and get them to work.

Thanks so much to Beth and Deborah for inviting me to do this - it has been a really hard post to write, and made me think a lot about why I do what I do. 

I have asked a couple of my friends to be the next hop in these posts. Adrianne (who blogs at On The Windy Side) has an amazing eye for colour and design, and is a constant inspiration to me. She is a fellow Pin-prov bee mate and it has been wonderful getting to know her a bit better through that. I'm thrilled we will get to meet in person next year at QUiltcon too!! Adrianne's post is up today (she has been tagged a few times!) so please head over and check it out!

The other person I've asked is Moira (aka Kettleboiler). Moira has a brilliant sense of humour, and her blog posts are an absolute joy to read. Her honesty and no bullshit approach to her blog is incredibly refreshing - and her quilts are beautiful too :o) 

I'm looking forward to reading the posts from these ladies!
xx Jess


pennydog said...

Great read Jess! I found it a bit hard at first when writing up my Around The World. Love your raindrop quilt.

Karin - BluePip Designs said...

I just bought a jelly roll of Elementary to make a math quilt for my son - can't wait to see yours!

Carla said...

Love your quilts, and always such fabulous quilting!!!

Catskill Quilter said...

Thanks for participating; I really enjoyed reading your answers, and it is comforting to me to hear of another quilter who has so many UFOs! Your quilting in the photo is stunning! I will be back to read every word you have written about FMQ.

Katy Cameron said...

Sanp! Well it was my day today too, and I also struggled! BTW, I think your fabulous FMQ sets you apart :o)

Anonymous said...

Nice to learn more about. I love the way you quilt your quilts, I think it is definitely a difference between your work and the work of others.

Jess @ Scrappy n Happy said...

Great post Jess! I can't wait to see the maths quilt when it is finished!

Wonky Patchwork said...

Not surprised that Sunshine Through the Rain quilt is your favourite, it's gorgeous!

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