October 11, 2014: My projects and process; “Craft and Art”


As you know, I spend a bit of time every morning sipping my coffee and enjoying quilting blog posts.  Recently I have seen several blogs participating in a “World Blog Hop” in which participants are invited to share their answers to 4 questions.  I have not yet been invited to participate in the “hop” but I thought it might be a fun exercise to answer the 4 questions anyway.  Then I’ll also be ready if asked!

The first question is “What are you working on?”  I am currently working on 5 projects.  Most folks participating in this “hop” indicated they are working on several projects at once so this is not unusual.  I am working most intensely on 2 projects.  The first is Spring Sonata which I am currently hand quilting.  I just finished quilting the interior of the quilt and am now ready to start on the border!  Here it is laid out on part of my living room floor.  It has a silk batting and is being quilted with silk thread.  (Click on pictures for enlargements and details!)

101114 SS#1


A closer view with better colors:

101114 SS#2

I am also focusing on “Sveta’s Sateen Garden” – a Christmas present for my granddaughter.  I just completed all the machine button hole stitching around the leaves and the 30 blocks are complete and ready to be put together.  I found the machine buttonhole stitching somewhat tedious and don’t think I’ll be doing much of that in the future! Here are the blocks on my design wall:

101114 SSG#1

In the picture above you can see I was trying out, on the lt. side, a periwinkle colored sashing and on the rt. side a coral colored sashing.  The periwinkle won.  It’s “sparkly” and fits better with the sateens and my 7 year old GD will love it!

101114 SSG#2

101114 SSG#3

Whenever I get some free time over the next couple weeks, I’ll be cutting sashing strips and sewing them on.  They layout of the blocks as shown in the photo above that shows all the blocks is set.  I had more pink blocks than any other color and alternated them.

Another project I am slowing working on – hand applique – is “Sweet Journeys”, the Baltimore Style Applique.
101114 SJ

I am actively working on “Joyful Noise” though taking a brief break while I focus on my granddaughter’s quilt.

9714 Joyful Noise

And, finally, next month I’ll be taking “Spirit of Japan: The Wheel” to be basted in preparation for hand quilting:

101114 SOJ

Much to keep me busy!!!

The second question of the blog hop is “How does my work differ from others of its genre?”

This is a hard question to answer since I am a “traditional” quilter.  The first thing that come to my mind is that nearly everything I make is hand quilted and my hand quilting is dense and takes a lot of time – sometimes over a year for one quilt!  I know there are other hand quilters out there so this is not completely unique but it does seem to be getting more unusual.  In the latest “American Quilter” magazine that featured winners in a couple of recent American Quilters’ Society shows, I am pretty sure there were only 5 hand quilted quilts out of 45 or so winners.  I always try to create my own designs and rarely use patterns even though I use traditional blocks for inspiration.  I also love authentic Japanese fabrics and frequently use these in my quilts.

The third question is ” Why do I create?”

I love making things and have always enjoyed sewing and needlework.  In quilting I have found an art and a craft that challenges me to create my own designs and to use techniques and processes that I truly enjoy to express the highest level of craftsmanship and my own artistic vision.  Making quilts is also a wonderful way for me to relax and meditate and temporarily leave the demanding and stressful work I do as a physician.

The fourth, and final, question is “How does my creative process work?”

I rarely start making a quilt with a complete vision of the “final” piece of work already in my head.  I very much enjoy taking a traditional block and playing with making it in different colors and fabrics and then playing with the setting.  I like to let the work “speak” to me as I go along.  I like to add embroidery embellishments and appliqued details in the late stages.  Often the piece ends up looking very different than what I imagined in the first place!  I never know when I am going to be inspired to actually start making a quilt as possibilities for quilts are endless and always swirling around in my head.  With “Joyful Noise” I saw a block in a book and had to make it right away and used fabrics that I had been saving for a project for several years until the proper inspiration hit.   Voila!  Loved the block and I was off and running with it.   Recently I have been inspired by fall colors and the beautiful trees all around me.  It makes me want to work on something with these colors even though I know I should stay focused on current projects!  For example, I have always loved this maple leaf design (though not necessarily this particular setting):

101114 Maple Leaf pattern

I want to make some some of these blocks in fall colors now!!!  There is a space above the bed in our main bedroom where a wide banner with these leaves would look great (can’t get a picture for you right now as Al is still in bed asleep!)  I would love to go right to my fabric stash and start pulling fall colored fabrics, but may have to resist until I make more progress with Sveta’s quilt.  Also I have to put labels on the 4 quilts that will be going into the Cocheco show next weekend.  Next post I should have some pictures to share from our annual quilt show!

In the last post I mentioned Otis Tomas and quoted from his web site about the artistic process.  He also has some great things to say about “craft and art.”  I’m going to quote from him – remember that he is a violin and guitar maker – and when you see these instruments mentioned, in your mind substitute “quilt” or “quilts” or “quilt makers” and see how what he says applies to quilt making too.  For all of us “traditional” quilt makers out there:

“I think of craft as referring to the traditional knowledge and skills passed down through what has become many generations of luthiers.  The craft of violin making necessarily starts with the emulation of the great works of the past.  Training, practice, and experience are the means through which the luthier hones his craft.  Just as the musician must practice long hours until certain actions become unconscious and “natural” so an experienced craftsman must internalize his skills in order to allow him a spontaneity of expression – an easy grace and economy in line and toolwork that can surpass even the most virtuosic of technical achievements.  It is our craft that gives us the traditional forms with which we work and the language by which we understand what we do – the ideals to which we aspire and the methods we use to achieve them.  It represents the timeless aspect of our work – our hands reflecting those of the great masters, rediscovering for ourselves their forms and movements by using the same tools and techniques, honoring the same ideal of simple classical perfection.  It gives us pride in work well executed, according to standards that have held over long centuries and it also teaches us humility in the understanding of the great works of the past, and a tradition that is so much greater than the accomplishments of any individual.  Craft is what is handed down from master to student – it preserves the values of the past in the knowledge that the results prove the method.”

He then goes on to talk about “technique” and then “art.”  I don’t want or feel a need to quote the entire piece but he  makes the point that one uses technique and craftsmanship to create art:  “Intuition is the tool of the artist; and when dealing with the individuality of our materials and the complexities of design and function, we confront something new with each instrument (quilt!), where our knowledge of craft and (technique) must halt at the threshold of the unknown and we must make judgements and decisions on the basis of a faith in our creative intuition, informed by experience.  There is a mystery here that we must respect.”

Isn’t that a beautiful statement about the creative process?!!!

Thank you for visiting!




4 thoughts on “October 11, 2014: My projects and process; “Craft and Art”

  1. Carla Gay

    I so enjoyed seeing all your beautiful works in progress, especially “Spirit of Japan: The Wheel”. I, too, love those authentic Japanese fabrics. Also loved the quotes from Otis Tomas. Thanks for posting and sharing. Carla (P.S. You are inspiring me to try hand quilting!)

    1. gladiporsche Post author

      Thanks so much for commenting. Glad you like my works in progress and I only wish they didn’t take so long! Gladi

  2. Marie Tymrak

    You are a dear to share both the formal descriptions of “art, craft and technique”, as well as your personal and informal thoughts. I love to imagine those Maple leaves, even though my own inspiration comes from the lush 6 feet tall deep purple sage around the hard edges of the parking lot of the Phoenix College in the central city!

  3. gladiporsche Post author

    I really do enjoy thinking about the creative process and reading and hearing what others have to say about it. As for the leaves, come winter I’ll be wishing I was in your territory! Thanks for commenting! Gladi


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