Tag Archives: creative dry spell

Plays Well with Orange

I tend to let loose with my color splashes in the fabric realm.  Grabbing scraps and stitching them together with a rough nod to the log cabin process of construction is my usual modus operandi when in need of a creative break.

Dora Quilt and Future Shock Book

Orange Color Scheme Examples: Pastel-y/candy-ish Dora quilt and garish orange & black book cover

This time around my bottom line need to use up scraps in spontaneous quilted creations has been utilized in a very different way. I found a pattern (yikes, I haven’t used a pattern in years) that incorporated Charm Packs…and applied it for my personal use. I don’t own a single Charm Pack, but have plenty of 2½ inch strips of fabric from decades of projects that can be adapted for use in anything requiring 2½ x ? pieces. In this case, the pattern required 25, 5 inch square pieces of fabric cut in half…resulting in 2½ x 5 inch pieces to build a block as directed.

It’s been a long time since I colored within the lines. Continue reading

A Project for ‘Now’

Often when I am stalled out creatively, unable to work on my main music or writing projects for whatever reason, or stressed out in the midst of life’s issues, I’ll dig through my fabric bins and baskets. The rooting about itself often gives artistic satisfaction and aesthetic relief in the form of color and design eye candy.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I needed a creative outlet during the ‘four weeks here’ part of my new Dad-visitation routine. Something to pursue requiring less focus than my Swimming with Swans related endeavors.  This lead me to begin work on the pre-printed quilt block fabric whole-cloth throw I’ve had in mind to do for quite some time. Continue reading

Look What I Found!

Unfinished Mother-Daughter Quilt Top Center

Look what I found!

Roaming about the unpacked boxes in my studio space, I came across this unfinished, but not forgotten WIP.  Carefully set aside to be finished at a later date, this Mother-Daughter Quilt Project was started when my middle daughter was in High School.  We worked on it through her first two years of college getting the entire quilt top center finished, with only the borders and binding left to sew.  It got put on hold as our business of over 17 years was going through bankruptcy and major changes were shaping the course of our lives. Once we packed up stuff to go into storage a few years later, it was definitely a WIP that I figured would never get done.

Borders, Backing & Thread: Ready to Go!

Borders, Backing & Thread: Ready to Go!

What’s so cool is that in its recent re-discovery, I know that now is the time to finish it.

Moreover, packed alongside the rolled-up quilt top were the materials needed to complete the project; all cut and ready to go.

My Michelle’s favorite color is no longer pink.  She has grown up, become a confident, professional woman and married a fine young man.  But our Mother-Daughter Quilt still speaks of the ties that bind: times past, present and future; the good times and the bad; what it means to love and be loved; forever and always…Amen.

One Year Later: Why Blog? Why Now?

In commemoration of my upcoming one-year blogging anniversary, I’m referencing Why Blog? Why Now? using it as a foil for reviewing the year-to-date.  As the introductory post written on 8/30/13, it serves as a starting point for re-assessing goals stated therein: whether they were met and/or if they’ve changed.  I guess you could say this is a sort-of evaluation post, re-examining the purpose of the blog along with how to proceed into its second year.

Why Blog? Why Now?

The obvious answer to this is of course, ‘Why not?’
Comment:  And thus began my official entry into the blogosphere… Continue reading

Ecco là – Coffee Beans – è Finito!

Thought I’d spice this up a bit with some of my good ole Italian…besides, a picture is worth a thousand words, so if there’s any question of what that title means, just take a gander at this:

Coffee Beans Means Love to Me, back & quilt label

Partial view of quilt back with label signed and dated

Yep, Coffee Beans Means Love to Me is no longer a WIP, but a completed project.

Last seen on the table ready to be basted a few posts ago, I experimented with using large quilter safety pins.  In general, I liked the way they held the 3-layered sandwich together while I machine quilted.  However, the holes they left in the fabric after being removed left me wondering why I didn’t just do it the way I’ve always done it.

Basting together pieces of (he)art

Basting together pieces of (he)art*

Live and learn.

Perfectionist that I am, I feared I’d wrecked the whole thing.  Then I remembered: part of our between homes experience was embracing the ‘strange life path’ He had for us.  So what’s a few microscopic pin pricks?

Still living.  Still learning.


Finishing Coffee Beans has been freeing.  A sort-of final transition stage where our between homes past has been pieced together into something beautiful to be seen in the ‘now’ as a reminder while we proceed into the ‘next’…


The road between homes has ended for now, but the creative journey has not.

*creative confluence: Coffee Beans Means Love to Me (2014), my NaNo Novel, ‘The Woman Who Didn’t Belong’ (2013), my hand scored original arrangement of ‘Mo Giolla Mear’ written while I was ‘Swimming with Swans’ in IN (2010), favorite guitar strings and an old photo of me with an anonymous horse in Montana during Spring Break (circa 1977).


Creative Confluence


I love how that word rolls about in the mouth; how it feels like its verbal definition.


Defined as a coming or flowing together, meeting or gathering at one point.

Most often used in reference to the joining of different rivers forming a larger waterway, it offers up a powerful image describing the perpetual movement of life.  Regardless of point of origin, the joining up of these liquid forces produces newborn paths, vision and vitality.

Confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois

The confluence of the Mississippi River & Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. (© Nathan Benn/Ottochrome/Corbis)

Confluence itself is sort of ‘messy.’  Look at the bottom tip of Illinois where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers come together.  During our first year on-the-road between-homes, we often traveled the bridges over these two rivers around Cairo, IL. Continue reading

The Rusty Quilter

detail of rows 1 & 2 of my quilt WIP

Detail of rows 1 & 2 of my quilt WIP

“Hello, my name is Laura and I am a rusty quilter who’s picking up the needle again.”

Geesh, that sounds kind of illegal.  No matter, quilting is and has been a very important part of my life since well, forever.  Put another way, when the country was re-discovering quilt-art in the 1960’s and 70’s, I was among those who tried my hand at it…and kept my hand in it ever afterwards.

Basic to those early projects was a deep desire to stay true to my own set of ‘quilt values.’  Specifically: recycling used clothing and jeans into quilts and wearables, both utilitarian and artistic.  One of my first quilt-based projects used old jeans pockets as squares to make a lounge pillow for my younger brother.

Yes, the times they were a-changin’.*  Continue reading

CD Commentary – Tom Carleno: Perfect Imperfection

Tom Carleno Perfect Imperfection cd coverTrack list:
1-In Search Of
2-Meet Me in Maui
3-On The Border (Al Stewart)
4-Welcome to the Milky Way
5-Working Up An Appetite (Tim Finn)
6-Timberline Tree
7-Child’s Play
8-Rhapsody in Blood
9-Imagine (John Lennon)
10-Brief Encounter
11-What a Difference a Day Makes

Tom’s a guitar bud from the days when back-to-back students, gigs, concerts, workshops and rehearsals left little time for socializing. It’s been over five years since we each rented studio space in the same building with other working musicians and the ‘Chocolate Lady’ in downtown Louisville, CO. Swapping stories and notes between late or ‘no show’ students, we forged a professional and personal camaraderie during our respective day-to-day teaching gigs.

While Tom has been performing, writing, recording and evolving with his group Perpetual Motion for years, Perfect Imperfection is his first solo recording.  Several years in the making, the name is taken from his wife and band partner Josie’s view of life: Nothing is perfect, that is what makes life so perfect.  Evidently, this wifely philosophy was the kick in the pants Tom needed to actually record a solo album. Continue reading

Killer Tune Shoutout: “Give It To My People”

The dreaded drought season in the life of a working musician…while it can be excruciatingly hard to bear at the time, the good news is that it does not last forever.  Also, during that period of seemingly non-productivity, the brain on music is constantly firing on some level or another.  For myself, this period of non-performance, my ‘dry spell’ has been filled with more opportunities to compose, arrange, explore other instruments, actively research and listen to tons of music.  Sifting through various genres, with piles of notes heaped high one on top of the other I have entered into a myriad of musical worlds; hence gaining insight into diverse approaches to the artistic need to create and express what is deep within…

That said, when fellow colleagues share audio clips, videos and good sources of musical material for listening and consideration, I eagerly attend to their suggestions.  And, when a piece is presented to me by way of my son, I take even greater notice and engulf myself in its offerings.

Take a listen, folks.

A-MAC DZ – ‘Give It To My People’ from Rise Above c Alex Mackenzie-Low 2014

Alex Mackenzie-Low: vocals, acoustic guitar

Alex Mackenzie-Low: vocals, acoustic guitar

How’s that for an in-progress EP rough mix? Let’s analyze it a bit…first off did you notice the voice?  Who is this guy behind the Rod Stewart voice?  When I got the mp3 from my son who plays on all the sax tracks, I started out listening only for his parts: the voicings, the integration of the instrumental tracks, compositional components; totally disregarding the normally banal lyrics of newer bands.  Just my usual way of delving into the musicality of individual recordings.

But the guy behind the Rod Stewart voice was quite compelling.  I couldn’t ignore the voice or the message. Continue reading