The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: creative process (Page 1 of 6)

The Meaning We Make with Our Hands (Poem)

In reading about the stories we as creatives tell through our (he)art, I came across this phrase from a Quiltfolk blog article.

It resonated. I ruminated. I wrote a poem.



Weekend Notes 3/2-3/2024

“Mounted over canvas”

As per recent quilt-blogger discussions about how to mount certain fiber art pieces: Mary over at Zippy Quilts posted a callout for suggestions on how best to display a ‘map’ quilt she recently completed. The overriding consensus suggested mounting it over canvas.

About two years ago, I experimented with this technique.

During the Pandemic, while noodling around with the idea of floating a design utilizing negative space as part of the composition, my Homage à Ma’s Uncle Tran Mawicke came into being. Pleased with the result, I wanted an equally unique way of displaying it.

Ma’s Uncle Tran* was a prolific commercial & fine artist, illustrating numerous magazine articles, sci-fi books, fashion magazines & catalogues, calendars, advertisements, creating art by commission, for both private/personal and public purposes, etc.

My Homage features a common color palette used in many of his works, but does not reflect his style of art.

As a true ‘working artist’, I’ve no doubt he experimented with different modern techniques and emerging schools of art-thought during his lifelong career. I’d like to think he might have explored a sort of “abstract expressionism meets graphic art” approach to his own work. In that way, my Homage title makes sense.

That’s the cerebral narrative. Truth be told, at some point during my immersion in Homage, something about it ‘felt’ like the Great Uncle I never knew – connecting me to both him and my (he)artist Ma.

*Mini bio: Tran Mawicke was born in Chicago on September 20, 1911 and died November 28, 1988. He’s best known for his commercial illustration, landscapes, and portraits. A graduate of the American Academy of Fine Arts and Art Institute of Chicago, his work spanned from 1935-1988. A prolific storybook illustrator, he also has credits such as film posters, covers of magazines such as Collier’s, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, and BusinessWeek. Tran served as president of the Society of Illustrators from 1959-1961. He traveled extensively and  called Bronxville, NY home-base for most of his life.


“Bonus Day”

Last Thursday was February 29th. A whole day inserted into 2024’s leap year to correct time discrepancies in our calendar related to Earth’s orbit around the sun. Think of it as an expanded version of the ‘extra’ hour received when we in most states of the US set clocks back in the Fall thus ending Daylight Saving Time.  

This added date – an extra day tacked onto February – felt like a Bonus Day to me, hence the name.  In fact, I planned for this Bonus Day in advance in order to take full advantage of my perceived ‘extra’ time!

Right before lunchtime, after a morning of unabashed glee pursuing indulgent (he)artistic endeavors, I got a text notice that my shingles shot was available & waiting for me at the CVS. Since this prescription had been ‘out of stock’ since December** I decided the unscheduled task took priority, so I got jabbed ASAP.

I am thinking you know what comes next…Yes, you’re correct in thinking my extra hours were then consumed by an overpowering fatigue – which for myself is a normal reaction to any vaccine.

And yes, you’d think I’d remember that – but no.

Overall I felt okay about that interruption, and I did indeed make up for that ‘lost extra’ time in the days that followed – gaining traction (and new insights) on a few music projects and progressing on a surprise gift I’m making for that new Papa cousin’s baby girl I mentioned in an earlier post. All of which I hope to reveal in the near future!

**What can I say? We live in an underserved area and that’s part of how life is for us. Case in point: a regular rhythmic cycle of empty shelves at stores has been a fact of life since moving here in 2012 – way before the Pandemic put that Reality front and center for many formerly unaccustomed to those sorts of issues. 


How did you spend your Bonus Day this Leap Year?


MMXXiii – part two

I finally finished my Cookie Mats the other day.

Please allow me to use them as a simple means to illustrate a handful of the many personal revelations/reminders I gleaned during this past year. 

I started them the day after reading Laura’s post on making her own “Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher”.

Like her, I needed a fun diversion tucked between my holiday prep and regularly scheduled life commitments.

That was November 19, 2022.

This is December 31, 2023.

Personal revelation #1- I can and do finish projects!

Also, around that time, the overarching theme (for me) of the coming New Year 2023 began to emerge:

Mindfulness – doing things with intention, not just as a default ‘go-to’ action.

Interestingly, each time I journaled about working on my 3 CPCCs in my Morning Pages, the word ‘fun’ is mentioned.

  • “Yesterday, I started work on another CPCC. I’m finding it fun.”
  • “As fun, I’d like to work on sewing the first few squares for one of the CPCCs sometime today.”
  • “I’m re-learning traditional piecing with those CPCCs. I ‘winged it’ on certain parts of the first one – a normal process for me – and it came out fantastically well. The second, I decided to be more follow-the-rules with squaring up each block to a certain size before sewing them together and it came out awful. So, the third one I’m trying a combo of both methods and so far so good! HA! This has been a fun ‘hobby’ reliever thing to do during my spare moments. Plus, I just might get a CPCC out of it with two to gift to others!”
Cookie Mats #1 & #2 on design wall
CPCC #1 on top perfect, CPCC #2 on bottom, prior to ‘squaring up each block’. It didn’t sew up well at all so I deconstructed it and threw the fabric in the scrap bag.

While that final quote is a good example of mindfulness in the making of those 3 CPCCs, the consistent use of the word ‘fun’ caused me to realize I needed more of it in my life.

Personal revelation #2- I realized that having fun was more satisfying than seeking happiness. Something I used to know, but somehow forgot. (For the record, joy* is an entirely different gift and one I actively nurture deep within my soul.)

Fun is in the moment and feeds the need in the now before it withers. Happiness is a quest that requires vigilance and can become myopic – in some respects it is frustratingly elusive and not easily sustained.

Shortly before the end of 2022, CPCCs #1 & #3 were completely pieced and ready to be layered with the usual quilt sandwich fixins (batting & backing). I packed them away as I was poised with a mindfulness focus of ‘living life outloud’ in the coming New Year.

Fast forward to November 2023.

In need of my annual holiday prep diversion, I pulled out the 2 CPCC pieced tops and began the process of taking them to the finish line. Again, a fun thing to do, especially as I pieced scraps and leftover small half triangle scraps into blocks to further turn into mug rugs and/or table trivets. Truthfully, I was avoiding doing what really needed to be done in order to finish those 2 CPCCs.

About this time, Wendy posted about taking a fabric therapy break from her own holiday preps. The Tote she produced – and oh so quickly – called out to me. I emailed her about purchasing it and before I could step away from the computer, she responded.

Scrap triangles as future mug rugs & table trivet

“Could I just gift it to you? I’d love to do that. It’s the season of giving, and nothing would make me happier! So no need to pay anything. I’ve been smiling to myself all day, just knowing I can share this with you! I had no plans for this tote, but I just knew it would have a place to go. I’m just delighted! Send me your address, and I’ll get it on its way!”

(here it sits atop my folded cutting table underneath a few pieced scraps & leftover half square triangle scraps on my design wall – quickly put to use as my new project bag)

Personal revelation #3- I forget that while it’s fun & rewarding to give to others, it’s sometimes fun & rewarding for others to give to me!

As I dutifully cut the backing fabrics and lightweight batting, I had and AHA moment. Why not turn these into more versatile mats that offer both hot and cold protection to table surfaces? That’s when I grabbed the InsulBright used for hot pads and added it to the quilt sandwich fixins. As an unexpected bonus this addition offered a firm bottom layer which enhanced my modest walking foot outline quilting.

Personal revelation #4- I can function in a ‘color within the lines’ type of world, but I really am an outside the box type of gal.

I finally finished my Cookie Mats the other day.

Personal revelation #5- Take the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor!


*    “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.” John 15:11 amplified

When Do Lightening Bugs Become Fireflies?

June is fast approaching and there is much scheduled.

The beginning of the month is my highly anticipated Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance at the Arts Center. The last weekend of the month is a long-planned mother/daughter trip. In between, there’s hubby’s and mine 45th wedding anniversary and Father’s Day. All-in-all a hearty, well-paced meal of events I’ve been looking forward to devouring for several months! HA!

So, what’s all that got to do with the question posed in this blog post title?

In prepping for my presentation/performance, the focus morphed into spotlighting prepared guitar in musical compositions. I fooled around with other composer’s pieces, most notable ‘Kalimba’ the featured piece for a rhythm study by A. Hirsch on the Aaron Shearer Foundation website. The sound was sort-of right, but not quite.

Plus, I wanted something I could incorporate into one of my own compositions. I dug out an experimental duo piece I wrote for classical guitar and banjo about a year ago when I was collaborating with banjo guy. I played through the guitar part in prepared guitar mode and voila! It was made for just such an application!

my prepared guitar set up

As often happens with original compositions, until something is marked as Fine// on the score, it is still a WIP. So, I adapted the original duo into a short solo prepared guitar piece to play during my Vising Artist Presentation/Performance. I had loads of fun experimenting with a final guitar ‘preparation’ and ended up using staples on 4 sets of strings to get the sound I wanted.

A great example of Kalimba/Mbira sounding prepared guitar can be heard in this piece played by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ):

“Okay, but what about the Lightening Bug/Firefly thing?” you may be wondering – albeit a bit impatiently.

Scroll back to April 6, 2023. Hubby was poised at his computer to be one of the first to enter our names in the Congaree National Park Firefly Viewing Lottery.

About 10 days later we were informed we acquired our first-choice date for the event.

In planning for this, I asserted my usage of the term ‘Lightening Bugs’ over ‘Fireflies’. It’s the term I grew up with and cling to even now as a point of identity!

The night of our excursion was a perfect night in the swamp for observing the lightening bugs’ synchronous light show. As we were immersed in Lightening Bug Glow, they seemed to be blinking a tempo (in sync, remember) to the prepared guitar piece I planned on playing for part of my Visiting Artist Presentation/Performance. The piece wafted through my mind (in sync) as the images of the lightening bugs hovered over and around us. I whispered to my hubby about my delightful discovery and he caught the vision, too.

In that moment, the original title of the piece died along with using my preferred bug nomenclature in the new title.

“Fireflies Arising for prepared guitar” rolls off the tongue nice and smooth.
It’s a rhythm thing.

What’s your preferred term for these wonderful critters?


About the following video:

“Every year tens of thousands of fireflies (Photuris frontalis) emerge from the leaf litter in Congaree National Park to begin their bioluminescent mating ritual. As darkness falls, this species of firefly, also commonly called a “snappy sync,” begins to flash in unison. The effect is like watching the heartbeat of the swamp, pulsing lights hovering over the bottomlands. This short film was created during the COVID-19 pandemic when the National Park was closed to the public and when the fireflies could be viewed without the interference of external lights.”


I Am A Slow…

…Stitcher.

Not as in the current trend of the Slow Stitching Movement but literally.

I Am A Slow Stitcher.

Skillful, yes. Speedy, not so much.

I am a turtle when it comes to making a quilt and/or creating fiber art of any sort. Quickening my pace often results in frustrating mishaps that require more effort and time to fix and undo than when I simply embrace my slow, steady tempo.

Mindful and contemplative sewing is a basic premise of the Slow Stitching Movement. One could say I come by that approach naturally, but truth to tell, nah. I do become completely absorbed with and extremely engaged in all steps within the process. And yes, I do breathe prayers, thoughts and love into the gifted pieces I create.

However – I Am A Slow Stitcher. Period.

In most areas of life, I am nothing if not steadfastly persistent and enthusiastic in the doing of anything – no matter how long it takes – but not necessarily slow or fast about it. Most who know me believe me to be quick witted, a fast learner and an efficient doer. Maybe.

This I do know: I am swift to laugh out loud in a huge guffaw just for the sheer joy in laughing!

Seriously, because I do ‘know thyself (myself)’, I take that time handicap into account whenever I decide to make something soft and comfy and/or display-worthy as a gift.

Which is why when the call for Comfort Quilts for Uvalde, Texas came within days of the senseless slaughter of innocent lives at Robb Elementary School, I knew I couldn’t participate. Even though I really, really wanted to and the desire and pull to participate only grew stronger as the days passed.

These types of reach outs usually have a short window of opportunity to contribute requested items/services to those intended recipients. Which I 100% get and respect.

In this case, my (he)art won out over my head. I decided to begin one small quilt regardless. Just in case.

At that time, I was just beginning to sort through some orphan blocks and excess fabric and realized they would make up into a rather nice 60 x 60 comfort quilt. As I worked on it and got closer to completing it, I reached out to a quilter blogging bud who was acquainted with the contact person and asked: Has the time come and gone for me to actually send this on to Uvalde?

She graciously went to bat for me (and others who had later quilts to donate) and found out my small contribution would be accepted long after the call went out for them. Her diligence enabled me to be a part of this effort. (You know who you are and I am forever grateful!)


Packed 1
August 2, 2022 – packed and ready to go!

Quite selfishly, this was a blessing for me to make on so many levels. I just wish the call to create a “Comfort Quilt” for such a reason wasn’t needed.


Catching Up part two

As per Banjo Guy’s suggestion in part one, I spent some time with my Hammered Dulcimer (HD).

Once hauled out from it’s resting spot under the skinny folding work table in my music ‘studio’, and set up in the living room, it was ready & waiting for me to play at my pleasure.

Our house is on the small side at ~1200 square feet. As you can tell, the HD does take up a lot of room. Once set up, there’s a certain feeling of commitment to sit down and really dig into the instrument. This musical outlet worked well for me as the strain to my wrists was almost nil while I worked through scales, hammering techniques and reading/playing HD tunes from HD playbooks and by ear.

Yep, I had fun!

My music ‘studio’ is nestled within a modestly sized bedroom, sharing space with a writing/computer area and a sewing/quilting area. If I have an unusually large project in the works or just need to spread out and ‘claim my space’ while creating (especially musically on several instruments at a time), my ‘studio’ overflows into the living room.

Luckily, Hubby understands the call & needs of the (he)artist. He actually encourages me to spread out  and encroach on our living room whenever I need more space to create.

Meanwhile, enjoy this more traditional HD cover of Here Comes the Sun to get a feel for this dreamy, jangly instrument. If nothing else, that classic Beatles Tune is sure to bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood.

Perhaps you noticed the wall hanging on the brick wall over the fireplace. It serves as a subject clue as to what ‘creative activity’ I’ll be discussing in part three! (I’m) stay(ing) tuned…and yes, I do mean that literally. 🙂

Floating 'L' wall hanging on brick wall above fireplace
‘floating L’ – LBL – MMXX

Mama (Gracie) Needs a New Pair of (Set of) Shoes (Strings)

Like a baby being born into an expectant family – the world revolves around that anticipated event while simultaneously continuing to turn daily on its axis.

Such is the life of a working musician – the ins and outs of projects going public and in various stages of completion with the on-going daily-ness of keeping up one’s chops, learning new repertoire, caring for one’s instruments, exploring the wide world of sound adventures while simultaneously creating a fresh crop of compositions/recordings and forging relationships with possible new performance partners. 

So yeah, Gracie Needed A New Set of Strings…In Spades.
She was neglected in that way. But truly in no other.


I recently unearthed a song sketch I recorded on my new-at-the-time ZOOM H4n handheld recorder after my literal Swimming with Swans* experience.

It definitely sounded way better than I remembered. Usually it goes the other way around – remembering something way better than it actually was.

Ah yes, after all these years – I hit the jackpot. Hidden in plain sight, I unwittingly discovered the namesake piece for the entire Swimming with Swans: The Music project!

All that to say, Gracie and I have been deeply ensconced in the nuances of deciphering what was recorded and translating it back under my fingers to play upon her lovely neck. Teasing to attention several other12-string pieces queued up for the next recording session (yet to be determined).

Now, if I keep the original recorded intro with those birds chirping in the background…tack it onto the future studio recording when the time comes…
😎


*This poignant experience occurred during the
**Indiana sojourn part of our between homes time (from 3/2010 – 10/2010).

William Blake was an Indie Artist

Shortly after my previous post

The day my CDs arrived!

…I received delivery of my Goat Suite (Saga) CDs.

Around that same time, I read a post by my quilter blogger buddy, Mariss.

In another few days after that, I got sick with flu!

While I’m making up for lost time and will post an update on GS(S) release date details soon, the above does beg the question:

So, what does all of that have to do with William Blake?

Well, here’s the thing. Until I re-read that blog post and began a comment-conversation with Mariss, William Blake was not on my radar as a creative who faced technical hurdles in getting his poetry ‘out there’. Here now, was a comrade creative from the 18th & 19th centuries brought to my attention who had to tackle similar challenges as myself, an Indie Artist in the 20th & 21st centuries.

Let me relay to you the relevant portions of our comment conversation sparked by the photo of the backside of her featured quilt:

Me - Purplely delightful finish, Mariss. I'm wondering what is written on the backside, is it in Africaans?
Mariss - Good morning my sharp-eyed, purple-loving friend. Thanks for the chuckle. It is upside down Swahili. I think it is the brand name/reference number for the cloth…You no doubt surmised that I inadvertently used the cloth the wrong way round, unlike William Blake who purposefully etched his poems in mirror image (for the printing process).
Me - Upside down Swahili - very cool! 
I did not know that about Blake – it seems us creatives are always having to learn new and weird skills just to get our (he)art out there!!! This is a huge comfort to me here in the 21st century because I often feel so isolated and impotent in the world of the virtual, techie and thrust-upon-DIY and am constantly having to learn and re-learn stuff just to ‘get anything out there.’
HA!
Yeah, coming up on a snag with some music release stuff. But at least I don’t have to play my music backwards to get it out there (my equivalent to Blake’s mirror writing).

Aside from my obvious reference to an old Beatles gimmick, that conversation piqued my interest in William Blake as an Indie Artist.

1783–1820

English poet, painter, and engraver William Blake epitomized the DIY ethic. During this period, Blake self-published some of his best known works, including Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. He wrote the text, designed accompanying illustrations, and etched these onto copper plates. He then printed and colored the pages to create his illuminated manuscripts.

from an article in Poets&writers magazine
William Blake mirror writing etching example

To clarify: ‘etching onto copper plates’ involved doing everything backwards for the resultant printed product to display content in normal orientation.

Mirror writing – technically called retrography – is the technique of inscribing letters and words backwards. Blake used this skill in order for his poetry to be printed.

In other words: Blake did the extra DIY steps of painstakingly learning methods of distributing his (he)art that went way beyond the scope of being a poet.

And in that, I find a modicum of comfort as a 21st century creative painstakingly navigating an endless DIY labyrinth of getting my own music ‘out there’ on my terms. Even after having released unexpected in 2007, the internet tools of the trade have morphed considerably. Many are so far out of my league, yet some of them are indeed necessary, and often interesting, to learn.

All of it – in Blake’s 18th & 19th centuries and in my 20th & 21st centuries – takes time, effort and resolve in areas outside our/my desired focus, but necessary for achieving certain (he)artistic goals of ‘getting it out there’.

Indie music is not a genre, it is a method of getting one’s music out into the world in a world where major record labels do not bankroll indie artists.

simplistic summary definition

After Lots of Waiting and Working Through…

…my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) release is on the horizon!

As many of you know, getting my Swimming with Swans: The Music – Goat Suite (Saga) recorded, mixed and mastered with accompanying artwork and copy text for both physical and digital product has been a ‘Saga’ in and of itself. It’s been an ordeal, but worth every ounce of effort!

So, it is with immense pleasure I make this announcement:

My CDs are in the snail mail as of this writing. Physical product is on its way.

I’m thrilled, ecstatic and over-the-top elated. I want to savor this moment before taking a big breath to continue along the actual music release journey.

Please click on the link and join me in viewing this cool 3D rendering of my CD packaging.

Click here for cool 3D rendering of CD

this link has since timed out. But it was very cool when it was in operation!

Perhaps you’ve known other creative (he)artists who seem prolific in their body of work output because they just have a knack for effortlessly releasing it out into the public realm. Perhaps you have a perception that once a piece of music is finished (all the hard work and fun creative aspects of being a musician culminating in a completed form) all that’s left is to announce it to the world by slapping it up on Spotify or YouTube or even passing on the MP3s via email.

Not true.

At least for me.

I have no illusions of being anyone great or super-starish in my music, but I do want to make its presence count. On my terms. In a manner I feel is of worth to those in my ‘world’ who have been waiting with me for this upcoming moment of formal release. And perhaps exposing those outside my ‘world’ to something different and worthy of their consideration. To that end, utilizing media outlets such as Spotify, YouTube and BandCamp are key factors – but need to be mindfully applied.

Similarly, I need to curb my personal enthusiasm and desire to share an MP3 too early or prematurely in the process.

That said, there are still a few behind-the-scenes aspects I’m completing before the time is ripe to formally release my GS(S).

I’ll keep you posted.

Once a formal music release date has been finalized, you’ll be one of the first to know.

And then we can go from there – within reach of that horizon!

Betwixt & Between my Purple Patch Flights of Fancy

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I have noticed many of the bloggers/musicians/writers/quilters/artists/poets/photographers/aka-everyday people I follow are also more silent than active on their website/blogs these days.

So, I’m in good company. ?

I like how those same blog-buds just post something – whenever – without apologizing for not having posted for a good long time…so in that light, I do likewise in today’s post.

I’d like to add that I appreciate when those same blog-buds give heads up on taking longer breaks from their blog…so in that light I will do likewise, whenever that time comes.

Fact is, I’m in a Purple Patch. That’s a cool term I learned from Andy, my Manc Poet Bud. It essentially means – I’m on a creative roll!

This is a good thing.

My Purple Patch feels like I can fly like a butterfly!

I’m also juggling & planning some ‘normal’ life stuff betwixt and between (aha – notice another Brit phrase?) my Purple Patch Flights of Fancy.

This is also a good thing.

Because…

It includes an In Person, Face-to-Face, Thanksgiving Family Feast this year!

Yippee! Dance of Joy!

For the record, the youngsters and their respective significant others are all double vaxxed, me and hubby are triple vaxxed and we’re all ready to mix and mingle, give thanks and celebrate.

In addition, we’ll all be meeting our ‘almost-daughter-in-law’ for the very first time in person.

And, don’t you know, she’ll be in good company. ?

« Older posts

© 2024 Laura Bruno Lilly

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑