Using Categories!

I have been blogging for over two years and have experienced a learning curve on using the cool features of the my hosting platform, WordPress. If you who have followed me for awhile, you know I have experimented with various themes and formats to my tierneycreates blog. (Maybe I have left your head spinning over my frequent format changes…)

I do not have a web background (I am a RN by profession) and I appreciate all the user friendly interfaces of WordPress (as I learn them) including setting up special navigation side bar options to make a blog easier to navigate for my readers (and I appreciate each and every one of you!).

WordPress appears strongly committed to the ongoing education of its bloggers and provides great tips in its blog The Daily Post. Recently I learned how to create Categories on the tierneycreates and assign a categories to my posts from a The Daily Post article on Categorizing.

CATEGORIES are located in the left navigation pane. Assigning “Categories” to my posts will allow readers to browse my previous posts by a specific theme they are interested in.

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Say for example, you only want to read about “Terry the Quilting Husband” – click on the Terry the Quilting Husband and read only those posts. If you only want to read about my sources of creative inspiration, then you can click on Creative Inspiration and see all the posts from my series on Creative Inspiration.

Setting up “Categories” was a cool exercise as it made me think about what are the general themes of posts I want to have on my blog? What themes/topics/ideas am I passionate about and want to write about?

The seven (7) categories above capture what I want to focus on as a blogger. Thanks for reading!

 

Creative Inspiration: Shapes in Nature

This post is a continuation on my series of sources of creative inspiration…

Just a quick post on this chilly Sunday:

Right before Thanksgiving we had “Snowmageddon 2015” in Central Oregon.  The entire area was blanketed with 12 to 24 inches of snow (depending where you live); gusty winds; and low temperatures (single digits, Fahrenheit).

With the snow came beauty and inspiration from natural shapes. I was creatively inspired by how nature handles the melting of snow in the form and shapes of icicles.

I recently took this photo below of a house in my area with large icicles hanging from its roof; and I am feeling a future art quilt inspiration based on this photo.

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Break Up Letter to My Warehouse Club

Looking at my credit card statement for the past 30 day period, I was appalled to see how many different charges there were to Costco, our local “Warehouse Club” store – 6 in a month’s time! (Depending on your location, you local warehouse club store might be Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, or Sam’s Club).

Obviously I have a problem: How many times in one month do you need to stock up on a packages of items that would supply, say, a  small military base, when there are only two humans living in your house?

Dear Costco,

I hate to do this by letter but if I see you in person, I will not be able to be strong (I would grab a cheap frozen yogurt from your snack bar and start running through your aisles looking for all the things I do not need).

I have to take some time off in our relationship. I am not sure if I want to permanently break up or just have a “cooling off period”.

Things have gotten too intense in our relationship and I have been spending much way too time with you than is healthy (financially).

I will miss your 80+ jars of pickles (when I only wanted a couple pickles), and your triple super duper size packaging of items that would take me a lifetime to consume. Most of all I will miss your fantasy-electronics-section with its 60, 70, 80, 200 inch TVs with infinity edge 3D screens showing glimpses of what ultimate TV viewing could entail.

But I must be strong. I hope you can carry on and stay open without me.

Sincerely,

Tierney

 

Taking Chances: The Mike Hogan Chronicles

Making a decision whether to “take a chance” on something or someone, is part of life. We all face  decisions on whether to take chances related to work, family, relationships, finances, environment, career, artistic endeavors and so forth.  Most of the time there is no guarantee that the chance we are taking is the right one to take.

Even the most evaluated, considered and researched “chance” requires an element of risk and an element of faith that it will work out. Otherwise it would not be “a chance”, it would be “a certain”.

In September 2014 I took a chance that required a very large element of risk and faith, and that chance’s name is Mike Hogan.

(Usually any posts about the miniature schnauzers are done on Sassy the Highly Opinionated Schnauzer’s page Schnauzer Snips, but she gave me permission to post on this topic.)

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Meeting “Cujo”

For nearly 24 years we have adopted miniature schnauzers from rescue organizations. Our first miniature schnauzer, Kerie, was from a rescue organization in Houston Texas, where we volunteered as Caring Critters Animal Assisted Therapy Volunteers, visiting health care facilities, residential homes, and shelters with animals to foster the human-animal bond.

After our first rescued miniature schnauzer, we were addicted to the breed. Kerie passed away after we had moved to the Pacific NW, and we adopted our next rescued miniatures schnauzers (two brothers, Fritz and Snickers) through Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, Inc. and all future rescued miniature schnauzers.

In July 2014, after losing the second of the two miniature schnauzer brothers we had adopted from Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, and applying for another rescued dog from the organization, we were contacted about a miniature schnauzer “Michael” that needed a new home.

Michael was a troubled rescue – surrendered by his family due to excessive nuisance barking and aggression. We first met Michael at the end of July 2014 at his foster parents’ home. After meeting him, I nicknamed him “Cujo” (yes, after the terrifying rabid dog from the Stephen King book and movie), I  gave an apologetic but firm “NO” on adopting Michael.

To summarize his behavior when I first me him: He was insane.  My husband Terry however saw something in Michael and was willing to give him a chance but I quickly talked him out of it.

Alright, You Can Come Home with Us

In September 2014, we were contacted by the rescue organization asking us if we would reconsider adopting Michael (they were persistent!). He had been living between two foster homes (Michael needed to be shared!) and the rescue organization had brought in an animal behaviorist to work with him. I am not sure what convinced me to say yes to meeting with Michael (aka “Cujo”) again but I did.

When we met Michael again in September 2014, he was a bit calmer and we could see the good work his foster parents, in two different homes, had done with him. He was still territorial and moderately insane. I had a lot of hesitancy but my husband Terry felt strongly that Michael needed to come home with us, and I agreed to give Michael a chance. (My primary fear was that Michael, with all his territorial issues, would not fit into our very social lifestyle).

When we loaded Michael into our car, he became very quiet and calm on the ride home to our house. He seemed like a different dog once he got into our car. He got along well with our other rescue dog Sassy on the ride home.

The first couple of months with Michael were challenging – he had anxiety issues, engaged in plenty of nuisance barking, had leash aggression and was very territorial to anyone trying to come into our house. He even chewed on one of my quilts (it was an old quilt and I was able to repair it but it was very upsetting and I was worried for the other quilts around the house).

My husband Terry was very patient with him. We spent a lot of time working with him and renamed him “Mike Hogan”. (He appears to love his new name “Mike Hogan” and his tail goes wild whenever we say it.)

One of the Great Loves of My Life

It is now 14 months later and Mike Hogan is now one of the great loves of my life (as are all my dogs). He is still territorial at times (though we are now able to have friends over without him being too insane as well as bring him over friends’ houses); he still has a bit of leash aggression and he still likes to bark.

These things do not matter as he is the most loving, cuddly, sweet dog I have had in my entire life. Every night I go to sleep snuggled to him and every morning I wake up to him nestled against me. He insists on sharing my pillow with me. He is obsessed with my husband Terry, and I refer to Mike as “Terry’s Fan Club President”. He is also very sweet to his adopted miniature schnauzer sister, Sassy, who we got a year before Mike.

Mike Hogan now knows quilts are for napping and snuggling in, not chewing. He appeared to sense how upset I was when he chewed on my quilt when we had first adopted him. He is attuned with our moods and seems to want to make us or keep us happy. He continues to struggle with wanting to protect his home and his people versus being open to meeting strangers and giving them a chance. He has learned to trust us: if we act like someone is okay, then they just might be okay!

One of the things I did with Mike Hogan during the early days of adopting him is continually tell him “you are safe” and “we are your forever home”. You can debate whether or not you believe dogs understand human language but in my heart I feel he heard me.

He obviously suffered from anxiety, as confirmed by a veterinarian friend of mine, and by continually making him feel safe and loved, he settled down. I cannot imagine not having adopted Mike Hogan, he was a chance well taken! (I am forever grateful to the volunteers at Miniature Schnauzer Rescue who encouraged us to revisit giving him a chance).

Living with fear stops us from taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit. – Sarah Parish

By the way, I now lovingly call Mike Hogan my “sweet little Cujo”…

The “Basted” Quilt, Dilemma, and Temptation

Defining “Basted”

Basted? As in “basting”? If you are not into sewing, you might think I am referring the culinary process of basting (moistening food with a liquid to keep it soft, such as when making a roast). I promise you, as much as I love quilts and quilting, I have not started eating them (smile).

I am referring instead to the process of sewing down a quilt sandwich (again Tierney, what is up with the food references?) – the quilt top, the batting, and the quilt back – using large/long stitches to temporarily anchor it together. A quilt is basted to hold everything together while you add the final smaller machine (or hand) stitching.

The Dilemma

In several older posts, like Progress and Fear, I discuss dealing with a large backlog of quilts, received from the long-arm machine quilter,  that I needed sew binding on and finish. I have many of my quilts (especially the large ones) professionally quilted by a wonderful long-arm machine quilter. This is not free to have done.  Normally I can handle the reasonable fee my long-arm quilter charges.

However, “Terry the Quilting Husband” was very prolific in quilt making this past spring and summer. As a result I had a lot of new quilting turnover and expenses all at once.

My long-arm quilter, who is also a dear friend, was very sensitive to this and offered on one of my next quilts, that she would baste it on the long-arm machine for me and charge me for that service and the batting, significantly less than a full professional long-arm machine quilting. Then I could quilt it myself with my regular sewing machine without the struggle of trying to baste it on my own in a domestic machine.

A couple weeks ago I got the quilt back from the long-arm quilter, all nicely basted. In the photo below you can see the large/long basting stitches.

The Basted Quilt...

The Basted Quilt…

The Temptation

Yes. You guessed it. I am tempted to say: “This looks good, this will work, I can just put the binding on and call it good”! I have been struggling with temptation. The temptation not to quilt it myself and just have a basting as the final quilting (the quilters reading this part of the post are either gasping in horror or nodding their heads in understanding).

For the time being, I am just letting it sit in the corner and I am sure I will eventually quilt it myself.

Eventually.

Dealing with Rejection

Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work (James Lee Burke)

On my page Textile Adventures for the July 2015 Entry, I mention that I am working on entering juried show. Since July this year I have been submitting entries for juried art and art quilt shows and I have been received a rejection letter on all my entries.

Nearly two years ago I read an article by an established professional art quilter, Carol Ann Waugh, in the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Journal, on how to become a Professional Artist. One of her tips was to enter juried art shows in order to build your resume.

I have been lucky enough for a couple of my art quilts to be accepted to several juried shows in the past. However, the shows I have submitted my work to this Summer and Fall, I really wanted my work to be accepted. One of them was a show that I daydreamed about being in. Alas, my work was rejected.

Yesterday, I did have one of those moments where I thought “Well I am just not good enough, and I am not sure my art quilts will ever be good enough”. The work I see in the SAQA journal is fairly intimidating.

Some days I wonder: “If I did not have to work and could focus full time on my art quilts would they become more ‘show worthy’?”  However that is not my reality and we have to all work within the reality we live.

I am continually reminding myself of all those famous quotes (paraphrased) – that it took Thomas Edison a zillion failures before the light bulb; that this famous author/that famous poet had numerous rejections until they made it; and etc., etc., etc.

However for now, I think I am just going to be sad a little while longer about the rejections and then move on and get back to creating.

What’s on the Design Wall: “Ohio Star” (a taste of “Big Magic”)

This post is really the “Part II” of the previous post: “Creative Inspiration: Where I Started…” in which I discuss my inspiration to create series of small recycled clothing quilts based on the first quilt book I owned: Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! (McClun & Nownes, 1998).

The “Big Magic” of Creativity

I am currently listening to a wonderful audiobook by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by the author – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015). In the inspirational book Gilbert proposes that Ideas are entities unto themselves that move among us searching for a home/host to bring them fully into existence.

If an idea visits you and you do not grab onto it, it will move to someone else. She also discusses the concept “multiple discovery” (simultaneous inventions by different individuals not aware of what the other is working on). She proposes that when an Idea is ready to “be born”, it will visit numerous people to find someone who is going to bring it into existence. This is all part of the “Big Magic” and mystery of creativity and the creative process.

The Ohio Star Idea (magical “multiple discoveries”?)

In the previous post, “Creative Inspiration: Where I Started…“, I share my  recent experience of being in a thrift store with friends and having the idea to do some traditional pattern small quilts using recycled clothing for The Wardrobe Meets the Wall collection.

The traditional quilt pattern “Ohio Star” popped into my head. I mentioned to my creative partner on The Wardrobe Meets the Wall my idea of making some recycled clothing/garment manufacturing samples quilts based on the Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! book. I did not mention that the traditional pattern, “Ohio Star” had popped into my head.

At first she hesitated on the concept and then remarked: “An Ohio Star done with the recycled silks would be interesting”.

The Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! book does not contain the Ohio Star pattern. It was like we both just came up with the same idea at the same time!  I was completely overwhelmed that she randomly mentioned “Ohio Star” when I was thinking it at the same time. There are so many traditional quilt block patterns – why did “Ohio Star” pop into both of our minds.

The Ohio Star Silk Experiment

Of course, I had to try and make a small recycled clothing quilt with the Ohio Star quilt block pattern! I found an image of an “Ohio Star” on the web and reverse engineered it.

My challenge: The quilts I have made so far from recycled clothing materials, such as silk garment manufacturing samples, have been using free form, intuitive piecing techniques. In order to create a traditional Ohio Star block, I had to use more accurate piecing techniques.

Using a special interfacing, I backed on the thinner silk pieces to stabilize them for cutting into specific small shapes (such as triangles). Silk is not as forgiving as cotton when piecing a block and it was a new experience to try and make a traditional block with silks!

On the design wall photo below, you will see I have completed the basic Ohio Star block. I am working on an inner border and outer border for this piece. I will post the completed small quilt top in the future.

Ohio Star, recycled silks (in progress)

Ohio Star, recycled silks (in progress on the Design Wall)

I consider this experiment a warm up for the project to make a series of small quilts from recycled clothing inspired by traditional quilt patterns from Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!

Creative Inspiration: Where I Started…

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we where we started and know the place for the first time. 

– T.S. Elliot

This post continues my series of posts on Sources of Creative Inspiration.

I was wandering a thrift shop today with some friends, and came across the first official quilting book I ever owned: Diana McClun and Laura Nownes’ book Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! The Complete Guide to Quiltmaking (1998). I bought this book in the late 1990s, I still have this book in my personal collection, but I have not looked at it for years.

I have been struggling to find a new source of inspiration for my next art quilt made from recycled clothing scraps/manufacturing samples for The Wardrobe Meets the Wall Collection. Since completing Abandoned Structure, I have been “bereft of creative inspiration” for my next piece (and if you see my previous post Terry the *Not* Quilting Husband, I am thinking about letting the sewing machine rest awhile and working on paper craft projects!)

Seeing the book Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! The Complete Guide to Quiltmaking (1998) suddenly creatively inspired me!

IDEA: I am going to do a series of small quilts made from recycled clothing based on patterns from this book.

I am going to return where I started for awhile, traditional quilt making, but with my art quilting medium: recycled clothing and silk samples from garment manufacturing (which is ironically, the true traditional medium: utilitarian quilts were made from worn clothing in the old days!)

I will post pieces from this series, more to come…

Photo credit: Amazon.com

Photo credit: Amazon.com

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s Schnauzer Snips page for her updates…

Terry the *Not* Quilting Husband

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s musing on her Schnauzer Snips Page

His Sewing Machine Grows Cold

In previous posts I have talked about Terry “The Quilting Husband”. He began quilting last fall and has spent the past year working on projects.

Currently he is “Terry the Not Quilting Husband” and has put the sewing machine away and taken a hiatus from quilt making. Instead of sewing, he has returned to an earlier hobby – historical miniature wargaming and is currently working on painting Napoleonic era figures.

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I was briefly worried that he would forever lose interest in quilting; and then I remembered that it is fine to take a break from one hobby and work on another for awhile.

This got me thinking about taking a break from quilt making for a while and working on other hobbies like my semi abandoned card making or beading hobby.

Today, I started leafing through and organizing my neglected card stock from my days of handmade card making and I am toying with the idea of giving my sewing machine a rest and working on handmade holiday cards!

Quote Currently Stuck in My Head

This may seem random but I wanted to share this wonderful quote I came upon today and have been mulling over in my head.

Mark Twain said:

The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

A New Way to Offer my Handmade Items?

Offering Handmade Items on Etsy 

I have been with Etsy for 2 years and I have been blessed to have had 73 sales. Not all my sales were for handmade items, this total includes my vintage Barbies of the World collection that I cleared out as well as well as fabric by the yard, fat quarter sets and a couple “jelly rolls” (rolls of 40 pre-cut 2.5 inch coordinated fabric strips).

Recently I removed all vintage items from my Etsy shop and I am only focusing on handmade items, and some carefully curated fabric offerings. Eventually I would like to only offer handmade items. I do not want to be a reseller, I want to only offer things that either I have made or “Terry the Quilting Husband” has made.

Exploring New Option for Offering Handmade Items

I heard that Amazon was going to start a handmade marketplace. I am mulling over the idea of selling instead (or additionally) on Amazon at their new “Handmade at Amazon” (still under development).

Today I applied for an invitation to be a vendor on Amazon’s Handmade at Amazon. I await the outcome of their evaluation as to whether they want tierneycreates (and its handmade products) as Handmade at Amazon vendor.

An appealing feature of Handmade at Amazon is that unlike Etsy, you do not have to renew your listing (paying a renewal fee each time, which becomes tedious). The listings are permanent until the item sells.

It never hurts to explore new opportunities; and I will update you all on what happens.

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The Tao of Quilting (reposted)

I wanted to repost this from Nov 2013. It is always up on my design board in my studio:

THE TAO OF QUILTING by Stephen Seifert

Our lives are full of obstacles causing stress and discontent.

But a quilt can be a bridge to overcome diversions and chaos.

Water ripples in the wind, never considering who is in control.

Yet its fluid nature gives it strength to serve as a foundation to life.

Soft fabric stitched together in a quilt fills the hardest heart with love and beauty.

The simplicity of love can penetrate all, including the the most cynical mind.

Rigid stone shores appear impenetrable, but their yielding surface gives rise to life.

Evergreens soar triumphantly above the lake shore, reflecting the paradox of life.

Problems emerge and seem pressing

But over time our thoughts evolve into understanding.

Nature’s silent teachings are taught without words

Instilling integrity into every quilt.

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