This photo challenge was a fun one. The assignment was to shoot a “found alphabet,” to find our initials in things that weren’t actually letters. So, I took my phone out with me on a walk to specifically look for letters and found some that would work. Then the next day, I was sitting on the dock while my family swam when I looked over and realized that my daughter’s snorkel was a J and the mask was a B. A couple of quick snaps later and I had my initials:
Last week was a pretty productive one for my “No More Names” quilt. In addition to finishing the New York blocks, I also got the blocks made for the victims of the Fort Hood, TX shooting in 2009.
I have finished another group of blocks for my “No More Names” mass shooting quilt. These are the victims of a shooting in 2009, in Binghamton, New York. Working on these blocks saddened me because I realized that I had forgotten completely about this shooting, which is exactly the point of the quilt. Horrible events like this one occurs, we hear about it for a few days, and then it disappears from our consciousness until another one happens (all too frequently) and we are yet again reminded of the string of shootings in this country. I am hoping that this cycle will end.
Yes, “Old Paint” was the challenge this week. I’m happy to say that my house doesn’t have a lot of old paint on it, but I do have lots of cans of paint so I opened one up and shot this:
I just posted a thumbnail version of this quilt on my new Lectures page to illustrate my “Quilts in U.S. History” lecture. It was based on on a quilt made in New Jersey in 1920, and I machine pieced and hand quilted it for Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morristown, NJ. (The photo was shot there too.) I made the quilt in 2006 – 2007, using scraps of homespun fabric that park staff used to make costumes for interpreters to wear on-site.
These blocks were so hard for me to work on. I’m a native Virginian and though I went to another of Virginia’s fine universities, two of my aunts, two of my uncles, my first cousin and my sister are all Hokies. This attack felt pretty close to home and even still affects my sister.
In addition to being so personal for me, the Virginia Tech shooting had so many victims. Many of the other shootings had victim counts in the teens, but 32 people, most of whom were college students, died that day in Blacksburg (and another 17 were wounded). I really feel how great that loss is when I see the stack of blocks going through my sewing machine, name after name.
Last month, I ended my newsletter article by saying, “Let the creative journey begin!” But in truth, I have been on my creative journey for a very long time and I suspect that you have too. In 2007, I started a blog that I called “Creative Play.” My idea was to try something new each week, to play around in my studio and to post the results. My last project was a year-long weekly journal quilt project that I wrapped up the week after my daughter was born. She then became my study in creativity. I began to realize both that creativity is innate and that it is important, important enough to be a vital part of early life.
I appreciate now that “Creative Play” came about because I unconsciously realized that I was missing both creativity and play in my life. If I think back to the playing that I did as a child, I recognize that most of it was actually just pretend work. I created a library card catalogue for my children’s books. I played architect and drew floor plans at a TV tray desk that I set up in my room. I got a label maker for my 11th birthday and I loved it. I understand that there is creativity in each of these, but one of the things that I finally realized during the past year was that I forgot how to truly play a really long time ago. Relearning that and more importantly, believing that playing is really okay, was a major step in rediscovering my creativity.
One of the things that I have done this year, to bring about more play in my life, is to create a toy box for myself. Friends of ours from England generously hauled across an ocean a Fortnum & Mason hamper to us. Once the tea, biscuits, and jam were gone, I appropriated the hamper to be my toy chest and I filled it with art supplies. Now, when I am in the need of a little play time and want a change from my typical medium, I reach into it for some crayons or paints and I play.
I am so excited to announce that the children’s book I created with my sister, Ravaging Rio and the Ghost in the Library, is now available in paperback from Amazon. I was really pleased with the quality of the paperback book and I hope you will be too. We’d love to hear your thoughts and would also greatly appreciate any Amazon reviews you want to leave.
I didn’t get my photo challenge homework done this week either (silhouette). So instead, I am sharing a photo of some sun from the island of Sant’ Antioco off the coast of Sardinia. When I started planning my “Running with Scissors” quilt months ago, this image is what I had in mind when I started. My challenge then was to use the color “Shocking Pink” and I first thought of colorful island houses like these.
I’m drafting the second volume of my Creative Play Newsletter, which goes out to inboxes next Thursday, August 11th. If you would like to have the newsletter sent right to you, you can sign up here. You can also read the first newsletter if you’d like to see a sample first or see what you missed last month.