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Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Book Review: Art + Quilt

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Art Quilt
Art + Quilt
Lyric Kinard
Interweave Press; $26.95

Lyric Kinard introduces her book by telling you it is not intended to teach you all you need to know about art. Rather her goal is to give you a solid foundation upon which to build your art. Lyric begins by introducing you to the elements of art: texture, shape, line, color and value. With each she includes ideas for gathering inspiration and then provides exercises to develop your skills. She follows the same format – information, gathering inspiration and working through exercises – as she tackles the principles of design: unity and variety, focal point, balance and symmetry, scale and proportion, depth and space, motion and rhythm. While understanding the basic concepts of art is key, ongoing practice is essential if you expect to develop as an artist, and Lyric offers a number of 30-minute challenges to get you on your way. What I found quite valuable was the discussion on evaluation and critique, whether self- or group-focused. If you want to work with others, Lyric offers guidelines for setting up a critique group and suggests elements to consider for a variety of quilts. She goes further to offer critiques of 17 of her own works. Understanding and practicing the concepts Lyric presents will help you improve the look of your quilts. You’ll also appreciate her easy-going, comfortable style and the hardcover, spiral binding so you can open the book flat while you work.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Flip Flop Block Quilts

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Flip Flop Quilt Book

By Kathie Alyce
American Quilter’s Society; $22.95

In 2004 IAPQ member Kathie Alyce introduced her Flip Flop Block template at International Quilt Market and sold out. She knew she was onto something when a few years earlier she created a four-sided curved template that would serve as a basic shape from which to create many designs. What seemed like a simple idea has endless possibilities: Imagine a log cabin fitting in a block with curved edges or even a New York Beauty block. Kathie also produces an acrylic template for the blocks, and the book includes a paper shape that you can trace onto your own template plastic to create a template to use. The book includes 18 projects that range from placemats  to queen-size bed quilts. This is a great creativity stretcher for designing outside the square block.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.>

Try Time Blocking to Increase Your Productivity

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Did you know that February is National Time Management Month? One way I like to get control of my time use is by time blocking on my calendar. What is time blocking? It’s a method of allocating or pre-assigning time for specific activities throughout your day. It helps me keep my day and life more balanced. I accomplish more because I have structure to my day, I can focus on a specific task with a high value, and I’m able to manage interruptions. I’m the one in charge of my day. Here’s how to do this:

1. Review your daily and weekly activities.

  • Can you determine how much time you spend on specific tasks? It might be helpful to track your time for a few days so you can see how much time you do spend on those activities. For example, do you check your e-mail every couple of hours and find that you spend at least 15 minutes each time answering them?
  • Do you have like tasks that are spread through out the week, e.g., teaching every day or taking in new quilts to longarm? Can these tasks be handled on one or two days, so your energy focuses on one activity?
  • Do you have tasks that need attention that don’t seem to get any? For example, dedicated marketing time is key for any business. Artists want to spend their time creating and often have trouble reconciling the need to spend so much time marketing. This task is often relegated to the leftover time when it needs to move to the front burner.
  • Do you have uninterrupted time for creative work? Even though we run creative-based businesses, the time should still be dedicated to the task.

2. Consider your short- and long-term goals.

  • Do you have a big project that needs to be completed? Start with a list of the tasks involved to complete it and estimate how much time is involved for each.

3. Consider your own personal work habits. When are you most effective? I’m a morning person, and I know I am more productive in the morning. For me this translates into activities that require brain-power earlier in the day.

4. Armed with answers to those questions, get out your calendar and begin to block off time for your activities. What most of us do is set appointments with others and that’s what is on our calendar. We then fill our time with items on our goals or to-do list. This system lets you set an appointment with yourself for your work. Once you’ve shifted to an “appointment” mindset, it’s often easier to accomplish tasks on your list. With your goals in mind, put the important tasks first so you’ll accomplish them. If I don’t block time for the key tasks, I can easily spend lots of time on simple tasks, like folding fabric and putting it away or reading the latest quilt magazine or checking Facebook. These items don’t move my business forward in a significant way. Here are some things you might like to time-block:

  • quilt intake time on one or two afternoons or evenings a week, rather than at odd times.
  • time dedicated to longarm work
  • creative time to design patterns
  • marketing time
  • bookkeeping, if you don’t have outside help
  • order fulfillment, if you don’t have outside help
  • learning time
  • time to work on blog posts and your communications with clients
  • writing time if you are working on a book
  • time to complete samples
  • time to read and respond to emails (I know you will have times when you need to check for something particular. When that happens, just handle that one item and save the rest for the blocked time.)
  • time to develop new classes
  • breaks in your day (This can be crucial if you are standing or sitting at a machine most of your day.)

To give you an idea of how I time block my week, I have our member calls and coaching calls on Tuesdays rather than spaced throughout the week. I allot one block of several hours during the week on one day to work on my blog and ezine articles. Because I’m working on a new program, I block time during each day to work on that. It’s a goal with many smaller tasks that need to be completed. I also block out time twice a day for e-mail, so I’m not checking constantly. I have an hour each day blocked out for reading or learning something new I can apply to the business. I block out Thursday afternoons for errands. Because I know that’s the day for errands, I try to schedule doctor appointments during that time, and I’ve already scheduled my hair appointments through October. I also block out time for family and self-care, so they don’t get lost.

I’m not rigid with the time blocking, and, of course, I have other appointments to put in. This week I have my local guild meeting and a professional quilt guild meeting.

In the end the reason I think this works is because when you pre-assign the time for a specific activity, you are more focused on getting it done. In a sense, you created a deadline for yourself. And by batching like tasks together in the same block (like the quilt intake sessions), you work more efficiently.

Let me know how time blocking works for you.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. This article was excerpted from The Professional Quilter, the IAPQ membership journal. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Book Review: Hand Appliqué With Embroidery

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Hand Appliqué With  Embroidery
Hand Appliqué With Embroidery
Sandra Leichner
AQS Publishing; $26.95

As a fan of Sandra Leichner’s quilts, I was looking forward to the release of her first book, Hand Appliqué With Embroidery. In the introduction she mentions that she’s always been fascinated by the details and how important they are to the finished product. I think if you’ve studied her work, that’s what impresses you: her attention to detail. The detail is most often done with embroidery embellishment techniques. In this book she teaches you her needleturn appliqué process and then shows you how to add texture and dimension through embellishment. To learn and build on your skills, she includes three small projects. With new skills and confidence, you are ready to create your own variation of Sandra’s award-winning “Tea With Miss D” quilt. I think you’ll be thrilled with adding these techniques to your tool box.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Dual Image Appliqué

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Dual Image Applique
Dual Image Appliqué
Dilys Fronks
AQS; $26.95

As Dilys Fronks looked back at her work of many years, she realized that positive and negative design shapes had surfaced in much of her work. That led to her focus on dual image appliqué. Dilys uses a fused appliqué technique and ends up with two opposite images from the same pattern. These can be used in the same project or two separate projects. The book includes 10 projects to tackle once you have the basics, each project building on or adding to the skill of those learned previously. I liked the detailed instruction and close-up photos. Patterns are included with enlargement instructions, as is a gallery of images to inspire you.

Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: A Notion to Celebrate

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

A Notion to Celebrate

A Notion to Celebrate
Melissa Bickle
Leisure Arts; $14,95

If you’re like me, you don’t need any more cookies, chocolate, muffins or other treats right now. The holidays seem to offer plenty in that area. When A Notion to Celebrate arrived this week with its candy boxed array of ribboned cupcakes, I was thrilled to find instructions to create fabric treats. Melissa Burke offers instructions to make 18 types of truffles for your candy box using a foam ball, ribbons, buttons, pins, sequins, pom poms and other assorted embellishments. You can create cupcakes, a Valentine’s wreath, a cake, Halloween treats and lots more. I’m waiting for next Winter when I can try the gingerbread house. Enjoy and don’t count the calories!

Look for this book at your local shop.

Get More Done: Try Single-Tasking

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Are you a multitasker? Do you read your e-mail while you’re on the phone and at the same time bind your quilt? We’ve all been there, and I’m hoping to put my multitasking in the past.

According to Harvard Business Review blogger Paul Atchley, studies show that multitaskers are less efficient, perhaps by as much as 40%, than they think. He says that it takes an average of 15 minutes – and I’ve read numbers as high as 40 minutes – to reorient oneself to the main task. Wow – 15 minutes! Can you imagine how much time you waste on a daily basis trying to get back to the task at hand?

If you want to break your multitasking habit, here are four tips:

1. Focus on one task at a time. Atchley says our attention starts to wane after 18 minutes. He suggests that if that happens and you switch to a different task, make notes about the first task to make it easier when you go back. I think that if your attention wanes, it might be time for a quick stretch and then quickly re-focus on the same task.

2. Since I mentioned focusing on a task, be sure to divide your project into doable tasks. Set a timer for the task. I find it easier to focus if I have specifically set the time aside.

3. Eliminate distractions. This could be closing the door to your studio, letting the answering machine pick up the calls, stopping the audible tones of your e-mail. What’s key is paying attention  – again focus – to your task.

4. Stick with it until it’s done and done right.

And, if you think multi-tasking is only a problem today, here’s a good quote from Lord Chesterton, attributed to a letter to his son in the 1740s:

“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day if you do but one thing at once; but there is not time enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.”

Good luck single-tasking. And, if you have a tip to share, please post on the blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Book Review: Creative Embellishments

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Creative Embellishments

By Sherrill Kahn
Martingale & Co.; $27.95

Sherrill Kahn has focused her career in the arts, first as an art educator for 30 years and now in retirement as the owner of Impress Me, a rubber stamp company. In this her sixth book, she shares her journey of discovery as she experimented with everyday objects to create art. Some of what she shares is how to use your electric griddle for a melted-crayon technique, how to create fabric cord, how to batik with glue, and how to use cosmetic cotton pads to create small embellishments. The 16 techniques ideas are imaginative and can be used on fabric, paper, jewelry and more. The book also includes chapters on composing good designs and making backgrounds. If you want to try some new techniques in the new year, this would be a good reference. You just need to ask, “What if?”

Here’s a link to Amazon to learn more about the book.

And the 2011 Color of the Year Is

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Honeysuckle. The Pantone Color Institute selects a color each year that is based on its general sense of the world’s mood. Pantone says that while the 2010 color of the year, Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum. The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.

Honeysuckle is guaranteed to produce a healthy glow when worn by both men and women. It’s a striking, eye-catching hue that works well for day and night in women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics, and in men’s ties, shirts and sportswear. Add a lively flair to interior spaces with Honeysuckle patterned pillows, bedspreads, small appliances and tabletop accessories. Looking for an inexpensive way to perk up your home? Paint a wall in Honeysuckle for a dynamic burst of energy in the family room, kitchen or hallway.

Book Review: Quilting for Peace

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Quilting for Peace

By Katherine Bell
Abrams; $19.95

Like many people, Katherine Bell felt overwhelmed by the events of September 11. “Hope is the antidote to fear,î” she decided, and hope led her to write this helpful book, which will guide many quilters to take constructive action themselves. In 25 essays, Bell surveys various charitable groups, featuring everyday people who saw others in need and acted with positive (and sometimes very far-reaching) consequences. Each essay ends with a “How You Can Help” sidebar and tips for the reader.

The book’s fifteen projects tend to be quick and simple, to encourage quantity where quality is not a primary concern. Some of the featured organizations, with the assistance of small armies of volunteers, have donated more than 10,000 quilts. In addition to quilts or comforters, you’ll find directions for a ìgreenî shopping bag, baby items and an ingenious sleeping bag for the homeless. The author does encourage quality over quantity when making quilts for military personnel to honor their service.

For most quilters, this book will probably be most useful as a resource about charitable organizations, ranging from those who support the homeless to animal adoption groups. Some groups need donations of materials and supplies, others ask for finished items. You’ll also find information about starting your own charitable project.

Bell’s ultimate message is that, by donating quilts or other items, we send the recipient a message of love and respect. A donated quilt may have a profound effect on the mental and/or physical health of the recipient. It also helps the maker feel useful, whether her individual contribution is small or vast.

I strongly recommend this book for every quilt guild’s library:

Reviewed by Eileen Doughty,

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