On Making a Shark Baby Quilt

I have one daughter. Her name is Winona, named after my beloved grandmother who taught me how to sew. My daughter has her own table in my studio. Through the years we have done a few small sewing projects, but she prefers her pastels and paints. So when she announced that she just HAD to make a shark baby quilt for her roommate’s sister’s first baby born during shark week, I was shocked but excited. This was also only two weeks before my daughter was leaving to spend her fall semester in Beijing, China. We had so much to do to get her ready for her trip! And we were also going to get this quilt done before she left?

Lots of thoughts ran through my head. Had she ever even met this sister? Would the baby girl be traumatized by a shark quilt? Does my daughter really have any idea how long it takes to make something like this? But the beauty of working together like I had always dreamed brought a crazy grin to my face. We would make this happen!

Winona wanted to sew. She wanted to make a quilt as a gift. That is how I started out. I could justify spending the time and money to make a quilt if it was a gift for someone else. I have met other artists who have shared the same story. When they first started creating, it was to make gifts or out of necessity.

Why is it we struggle to justify what we love doing — creating beautiful things? Doesn’t the world need more beauty? Do we have to have a purpose for making a piece of artwork? Or can we give ourselves the freedom to just make for the sake of making?

What would happen if we allowed ourselves to just create for the sake of creating? If we didn’t need an excuse?

Winona and I started the Shark quilt on a Sunday afternoon. She thought it would be all finished by the following day at 4 pm when she was driving back to Grand Rapids. Isn’t that sweet? Instead we mailed the quilt the following Saturday to her roommate who gave it to her sister. Turns out the father of the baby loves sharks like Winona does and thinks it’s awesome. Hopefully baby Junia will grow to love sharks too.

Winona and her Shark baby quilt for Junia.

Winona and her Shark baby quilt for Junia.

Saying Yes to opportunity!

Late last year when I began dreaming of a bigger space to work, I would have never thought of the opportunity that presented itself. And now I have a commercial building under contract!

I am excited about the many opportunities this building offers. It is centrally located in the state of Michigan only a few miles off of Interstate 96. Williamston is an hour to Detroit, an hour to Grand Rapids, 45 minutes to Ann Arbor, and only 20 minutes to Michigan State University.

Next step is planning the renovations. From the photo you can see the starting point. The building, approximately 100 years old, is currently a dance school with lovely 20 foot ceilings on both floors. I want to create a clean, modern space with great lighting. I also hope to use this space to create community through classes, critiques and perhaps a gallery space. Dreaming big.

What are your dreams? If you allowed yourself to dream with no limits, where could it take you? If you could do anything, what would it be?

Sometimes opportunity is disguised.

Sometimes opportunity is disguised.

Creative Spaces

Looking back through my life, I have almost always had a designated creative space of my own. The first one I remember was a bedroom with a big built-in desk. When we moved to this house my mother specifically wanted me to have this room so that I had space to create. I was in the 4th grade.

Having a designated creative space is one of the ways we set ourselves up to be successful. Through the years my spaces have consistently had a minimum of four things: good lighting, a design wall, a cutting table and a sewing machine that is always out and ready to sew! My spaces have been in bedrooms, basements, and even part of the family room. My current space, pictured above, is  an 800 square foot room over the garage with a 10 foot ceiling and full spectrum lighting. However, I seem to be outgrowing this space.

As I was considering how I might be able to enlarge my studio, I quickly realized an addition was not possible. Plus I realized that I wanted an opportunity to interact more with like minded people. I began dreaming of a space where I could have critique gatherings and possibly teach. A  bigger and nicer dye studio would also be great. Then I learned that a commercial building in my small town had come onto the market. It is 100 years old with two stories, each having 20 foot ceilings. It also has a one story storage area  with natural light that is nearly 800 square feet — a possible dye studio/teaching space?

So the question is how much do I believe in myself? How much am I willing to invest in myself? Am I willing to take the risk?

Stayed tuned …

What is your creative space like? How are you setting yourself up to be successful? What barriers can you remove to enable yourself to create move? How much are you willing to invest in yourself?