Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just a little teaser...."Lollipop Dreams"

Progress is being made........

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Idea Boards, Binders and Color Wheels"

I was cleaning up my kitchen from breakfast this morning and I thought of a couple of habits I have practiced for many years that can be so much help when planning a rug, your next sewing project, decorating a home or color coordinating a wedding!  

Idea Board or Story Boards
Find a place in your home - backside of a door, wall over a desk,  inside a kitchen cabinet where you can hang a cork board or pin right into a wall - something I've done in my sewing area.  DH wasn't too happy about that one but he has long forgotten and it is my studio anyway.  Start collecting ideas.  Color combinations you like together.  Fabrics that are in a room where you want to put a rug.  Carry samples with you when you go shopping in a 3-ring binder, see next suggestion, when shopping wool or trying to decide on a dye swatch and whether it will match that quilt on your bed.

Whether you are trying to pick colors for a rug or for a whole house this is the best way to not go crazy in the process.  My husband and I have built and I have decorated 6 homes, along with a couple of strays, my definition of homes we didn't live in very long or those of clients when I owned an Interior Design and Decorating business many years ago.  I always had a binder for my clients and for myself with plastic sleeves where I organized fabrics and paint samples, ideas for styles or treatments for cabinets, plumbing fixtures, bathtubs, flooring, wallpapers, draperies and on and on - whatever I knew I wanted in the house went into that binder!

Acquire a collection of paint chips or if you can get your hands on a full book of samples all the better.  Wonderful tool for trying to match colors.

A whole book of color chips used to run around $10 from some of the major paint companies but I have no idea what they cost these days.  I still have several from our last house we built and still live in from 20 years ago.  I keep promising myself to locate a few more current color books but just haven't gotten around to it yet.  I still use one of these paint books if I'm trying to match a color like for instance my country bench color is matched to one of the colors in the rug under my kitchen table.

Buy a Color Wheel!
There are a zillion color wheels out there so pick wisely.  You can get them that are very basic and then those that shift several levels in value which can be very helpful.  Keep one handy and learning how to use it can be an invaluable tool when matching wool colors in a rug.  Not all greens go together nor all the other colors in one color family.  Learn to see the differences and you'll be on your way to a more harmonious presentation.

That's my tip for the day on color and planning a rug or even decorating a home.....back to cleaning up my kitchen!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Worms, Worms & Worms!

Did you think I was shifting topics on this blog from fibers to gardening?  Nope, I'm talking about "wool worms."  If you are a rug hooker then you definitely know what I'm talking about!  Never ending growing ever larger quantities of these cut pieces.......eeeeeeeeek!  What to do about it?

My solution is a "worm roll." I took a long piece of canvas, hemmed all edges,  sewed plastic curtain rings approx. 6-8" apart down the center of the length.  Thread a long cord or twill strap material (see in photo) through the rings.  Make sure you are attached at one end and leave enough length in your strap to go around the individual bundles of wool worms and then wrap around the roll when rolled up.  Make sure you don't roll too tightly or some wool strips will pull apart when you pull them from the roll.  Number 4 cuts and below and particularly out of twills can pull apart easily otherwise plain weave cuts hold up well all the way down to a #4 cut.

I have a cute little bench that sits next to my chair where I do my hooking and can easily pull strips of wool as I need them.  

You can make these to accommodate various lengths of worms and small or larger quantities of strips.  Just make sure you have enough to overlap when rolled up and your strapping material is long enough to wrap around the roll and tie a knot to hold the whole roll together.

Happy worm control!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Inspiration & Creativity" - TIME TO WAIT!

Set back, take a big breath, wait and think.

It’s now time to ponder your new ideas and any sketches you have made.  Maybe leave the drawings and notes for a few days or even longer.  You don’t want to leap into a huge project BEFORE you have considered all of the possibilities.  Planning a painting or a rug is like telling a story.  At the base level, we are all story tellers and the better we understand the need for balance, harmony, relationships of components and color arrangement the better our story will come out.   These components are much more critical when planning some styles of art or rugs.  If you are painting a still life then there can be a very strong story, or not, but the relationship of the objects in the painting is important.  The same is true of a landscape rug.  If you are designing a primitive hooked rug then the rules of balance and perspective are not quite as important.  All things to ponder first before you leap into a monster rug and then find something isn’t working right.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to consider and questions to ask of yourself.   

1.  Does this design reflect cleanly and completely what I’m trying to say?
2.  Can I take away any part of my drawing that does not fit? 
3.  Can I add something to the drawing that is important to tell the story?
4.  Is the drawing balanced, i.e., a good repetition of components throughout            
                   that work together?
5   Do I need to consider any one thing the focal point in my rug?
6.  Color – what colors and where do I place them?  Remember the need to spread the color around – red here, then some red over there.  Enough on color because I digress.

Here are a couple of exercises that work for me:

Do additional thumbnail sketches and re-arrange the individual design components several different ways until you find one that you like.

Make full size cut out shapes of all of your subject pieces, i.e., cat, duck, dog, horse, crow, geometric shapes in different sizes, houses, trees, cars and so on.

Get a large piece of paper the size of the rug you want to make.  Here is what I use.

 You can buy this paper from moving companies and shippers.  The bundles are huge!  Best kept secret that most artists don’t even know exists so avail yourself of this wonderful inexpensive resource.  I have called around and prices vary but I’ve found that the large moving companies are the least expensive.  You can buy a large 25# bundle, which will last you a LIFETIME!  I could not get the exact sheet count but when I asked the salesman as to whether it was maybe the size of a ream (500 sheets) he said “oh my, probably more than that!” for around $32.  You can also buy much less in 10# amounts.  U-Haul sells the paper at 70 sheets for $5.95 and 200 sheets for $9.95.  The sheets from the moving companies  are 24” x 36” and from U-Haul they are 24” x 27”  If you are going to be doing a larger rug than these sizes then just cut and tape extensions to these sheets.  One note, I’ve being using one large 25# bundle of this paper for 20+ years and I still have maybe 100 sheets left – so buy wisely or buy to share with others!

Now, back to our discussion on topic.

Put all your shapes on the paper and start moving them around until you find an arrangement you like.  Rearrange your design pieces in different ways until you get one that makes you sing – “that’s it.”

Think about how wide you want your border to be and what type of design pieces would go with the central theme of your rug.  Maybe even do some cut outs of those pieces and position around the rug’s edges.  

When a composition works, you will know it almost instinctively.  I could go into a lot on the topic of “rules” about composition but I’ll save that for another discussion at some point in the future. For the time we will leave the “rules” about composition, line, balance, focal point for another time.  For now, just focus on emotion and whether your drawing/arrangment “talks” to you and makes you happy.  Why else do these rugs if it’s not to make our selves happy anyway?  If you are determined to move into the art world of galleries and shows then a little time spent on understanding some of the above topics on “rules” will be necessary tools to learn but for now just focus on what you love.   If you are designing a rug that is primitive or whimsical then you don’t usually have to worry too much about composition rules. 

One final thought on inspiration.

No one person has a corner on the “creativity” market; it’s open to all of us.  Many rules have been written for artists to follow, some good and some not so good.  Many rules are valuable assets to learn and many rules scream to be broken.  First learn the rule, and then decide if you want to break it and why.  A good understanding of design, color, line, perspective and texture will always be beneficial elements to have tucked away in your creative toolbox for when you need them.
I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on "inspiration and creativity" and learned a few tips to help you go forth and tap your own inner core of creative juice.   These techniques have worked for me for many years.  I don’t always go through the entire multiple steps each time I plan a rug or a painting.  Many of these steps are very ingrained in my brain and therefore I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them.  If I’m arranging a still life painting I just add and subtract objects, somewhat like moving paper pieces around on a large piece of paper, until I get the arrangement I like and then I photograph it.  I look at the many photos on my computer, delete and analyze until I get the one that says, “that’s it.” If I do get hung up and something isn’t working then I’ll go back to these exercises and explore where I might fix my problem. 

I hope you find these recommendations to accessing your “inspiration & creativity” useful and you will give them a try.  There is nothing more satisfying than the ability to bring forth YOUR VERY OWN ideas and create beautiful original designs no matter whether it's painting, rug hooking or maybe even writing a novel.  Give them a try and I bet you probably will be surprised at what happens next.

If you liked these helpful hints about “inspiration and creativity” then drop me a note.  If you have other areas about design, color and rug hooking or painting you would like to see explored then e-mail me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Embroidered Child's Sweater

Just a little "change of pace or topic" until I post the final installment of my ideas on "inspiration and creativity."

This is a little girl's sweater, approx. a 3 year old size.
I originally knit the sweater and never planned the embroidery.  I finished the sweater and thought it was awfully plain and w/o interest.  I decided I needed to punch it up a bit and then I wound up with a 6 month project of adding the embroidery!  It was actually a fun project but way more involved than I had originally intended.  

I had no plan or pattern to work from.  I just started adding the stems first, then the big flowers to the front, back and sleeves and finally the small area at the bottom after the big sweater pieces were put together.  I crocheted the ruffle around the bottom and the band on the front.

I thought the whole thing came out rather cute and I could imagine doing something like this on a "big girl's" sweater next.  I would change one thing - do the embroidery on a stocking stitch rather than a garter stitch.  Garter stitch is way too springy and I had to make sure there was plenty of give in all directions when doing the stitching of the stems and big flowers.  The entire sweater is out of needlepoint wool for the embroidery and the base sweater is Lion Brand Fishermen's wool.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thought for Today

"The man with a new idea is a crank -- until the idea succeeds."
Mark Twain

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thought for Today

"An idea is salvation by imagination."
Frank Lloyd Wright

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Notice Regarding Last Posting

Hi all you folks out there in e-mail newsletter land.  

I have no idea what is going on with my blog with text being changed every hour, title design changing constantly, insertion of the most awful hieroglyphics, bands appearing where they don't belong and spacing completely thrown off.  I've tried fixing these problems but so far they do not seem to hold.  I've signed up for my own blog newsletter and it will be interesting to see how this message comes through.

In the meantime, please go directly to my blog site to read my last post.  I'll work on this and hopefully I can get some resolution from Blogger eventually - maybe!

Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Inspiration & Creativity" - Day 3

I apologize to those of you who have received multiple updates on this posting but Blogger was behaving very strangely today putting all kinds of odd things in my post.  Hopefully, all is corrected now.  Thank you for your understanding.  Now, on to the topic at hand......

This step or exercise is for anyone who has not been able to develop an idea for a rug or maybe has a kernel of one but doesn’t know exactly what to do with it.


"Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, 
and pretty soon you have a dozen." John Steinbeck

The gears have been cranking away and finally you have an idea but what now?

We are going to PRETEND!  That’s right, “pretend.”   Once we were all children and played “pretend” games with our friends or by ourselves.  As children we were not restricted by time or approval.  We just settled into our rooms with our toys and began to dream.  Once you grow up,  pretending is not something most of us engage in often or at all, if ever.  Great ideas come from “pretending” or as the psychologists call it “free associating.”

"Ideas won't keep!  Something must be done about them."
Alfred North Whitehead

 Here’s what you need to do.  Take your inspiring idea/s, drawings, object or subject and go sit in a quiet place, in a comfortable chair where you won’t be disturbed.  Close your eyes and think about your subject matter and let your mind wander.  Don’t worry if this seems silly because no one is going to be in your head with you.  It’s just you and where your mind will take you.  For those of you who think this sounds like a strange exercise and maybe difficult to imagine, let me play along with you.  Here’s an example which I’m going to do as I sit here, right now, as I’m typing this article. 

I promise this was not thought out ahead of time or preplanned.   Right next to me is a pad of paper and a couple of ink pens.  What can I imagine is happening with those pens?  Let’s give it a try – this is “free association.”  As I visualize, I will type (keep in mind I type fast and therefore this is easy for me.)  Here we go:

 I can see the pens resting in one cup, many cups, floating through the air with paper flying around them, scribbling on a wall, rolling down the street, playing hop scotch together down the street, propping up books with an apple on top, poking out of a hat with a man’s face partially showing, substitute for guns on the field of battle, airplanes performing acrobatics in the air, design on a pillow, wallpaper, fabric, signing a musical score, windmills twirling around in a field of corn, pen lying on a table next to a love note to a husband/lover thanking him for being there with a vase of flowers, a string of pearls, a mirror and maybe a wine glass half full – ah ha, an image for a painting!  A pen or multiple pens in a bowl of fruit, pens sticking through a colander (that was hanging from my pot rack), pens dressed like a bride and groom on a wedding cake. 

“It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.”
                                              Charles Peguy

I could, and so can you,  go on and on like this letting your mind roam through your imagination and who knows what you will come up with!  All of this sounds maybe strange and might take a little practice to get used to the idea but give it a try.  Free associating works for me and once you get relaxed with the idea you'll find that free associating with ideas and objects can open up new pathways, ideas and possibilities that you maybe have never thought of before. 

"One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Oliver Wendel Homes

Can you now see where inspiration comes from and how ideas get developed?  Inspiration is right there in front of you and that inspiration can become full blown designs for rugs, paintings, books, music, toaster design and thing-a-ma jigs.  You just have to be open to STOPPING, LOOKING, LISTENING, FOCUSING, and lastly FREE ASSOCIATING.  Make notes, draw quick sketches and give yourself time to evaluate your inspirations.

Time – that’s the key to the next exercise.  As Arnold likes to say, "I'll be back."