Wednesday, 11 September 2013

"Art's not a real A-Level"

Once upon a time I turned right when I could have turned left. I was forbidden from doing Art A-Level. A choice taken from me to ensure that I ended up with a proper career in something secure that pays. Gradually though the art has crept back into my life insidiously, more and more until I couldn't ignore it or play it down any more. I've been making jewellery, sewing, knitting and such thanks to kick-starts from workshops at Amy Surman's Oxford Bead Shop, Darn it and Stitch (now Pin Works) and of course the wonderful RatsasBigasCats. Doing those things in my leisure time but as a professional communications person, as well as someone with aspirations to sell drove me to taking photographs of my work. I then started to share my photos on Flickr, blogging here, using Tumblr to share my WiP's and such, as well as joining in with Twitter. I learned much from doing it and it has improved my making, kept good records and enabled me to give better strategic communications advice too, having actually walked the walk. 

The Fat Quarterly Retreat inspired me in a bunch of ways you've already heard me express but there was another I did not mention. See I vowed to myself I wasn't to go to another FQR until I had actually made a quilt! Might seem obvious but I suffered from a lack of confidence at the first one some of which I put down to never having made a quilt, as well as feeling a bit out-of-water, and yet there we were watching quilting done as a competitive timed sport! I also wanted to make the most of the opportunity to learn from such clever quilters, having actually made a proper size of quilted thing seemed like a good start. This vow thing did mean that I was deprived of this year's retreat - however it also meant a push to submit to the Festival of Quilts - that is on top of my own mouthing off about the lack of novelty and Modern Quilts.  

Once the Festival of Quilts was over I felt a post-FoQ slump though having ramped myself up to do it, finally made a quilt, photographed it to death, blogged it, exhibited even... and was left with the 'now what?' feeling. 

My lovely friends have, over the last months, nudged me towards a big decision. Dear Pritch (Comm's Kate) buys my jewellery and loves the sewn bits I make too, so gifted me with the 'Not on the High Street' 'Build a Business from your Kitchen Table' book and added a post-it note saying "Create, create, create, sell, sell, sell. Live your dreams.

Miss Coffs then commented on the photo of this on Flickr "She's right, Sally - live your dream. Do it now ... before you get entangled in mindless rubbish just to pay the bills. I believe you can do it! xx".

I had come out of some exhausting fixed term employments and in-between things I found myself free to consider the suggestion of my wonderful, kind, creative friends RatsasBigasCats and Borderline Straggler that, perhaps, I should try college - as an Art and Design student. *gulp* After all I was applying for jobs which my heart was just not in and I'd taken myself as far as I could before I would likely be sucked into just the quilting, when really I wanted to push myself into new disciplines and techniques, but just didn't know how. Some folk can learn via blogs, tutorials on YouTube in their leisure time and such, but really I like to see, touch, try, see again and ask questions.  

I didn't have a portfolio of my work but I went to an open day hoping to get an idea of what was involved in making one. There I was introduced to the course tutor, and, based on a sketchbook (made with Ratty's expert tuition) I had in my bag and photos of my makes on my phone via Flickr - I got in! The tutor was impressed with my having submitted to the FoQ, my skeleton cushions and rock quilting... and you could've knocked me over with a feather. 

So that's me now. Art & Design Student. Mature Art Student even. Learning all I can in a year, building a foundation towards becoming a better maker, learning new techniques, finding a job where this side of me is valuable... or maybe... going on to University... maybe... we'll see... dolly steps eh? 

In the meantime I shall still be selling the other makes (the hexagon things I do and such) that are not going into a portfolio via Etsy and elsewhere. Oh and I still consider commissions too. Those Library fines won't pay themselves after all ;-) .  


Sunday, 1 September 2013

FoQing done

Dotty me and my dotty side of the Geek Boy Quilt
My Festival of Quilts experience all done and dusted and my feedback in.  Folk keep asking me about how it went and what I'm upto next so here it is:

Judge 1 - 'Good use of fabrics especially the fussy cut images that help to tell the story. Very neat hand quilting. Well done. The back is lovely too. GF'
On the table of feedback she (I am assuming it's a she...) marked me as 'good' in all categories but for 'Design, Composition, Colour' where it was only 'satisfactory' and the same for 'Surface Design and Embellishment'.

Okay I can take that. I mean there wasn't surface embellishment because it's an actual functioning quilt that can go in the washing machine when it needs to and not a wall hanging. Honestly I'm not totally smitten with the front of it myself. Fine. Chuffed with the notes.

But Judge 2... The feedback from this one did get under my skin. I wish it hadn't... but honestly this is the reason I have held off from writing up my FoQing experience. I want not to let this bother me because I knew going there that I wasn't really going to be the Guild's sort of thing didn't I? But... hell what's blogging for but to vent these things right? So this was the 'My First Quilt' section - you might think they'd be kind and encouraging? I shan't run through all the categories and marks (tempting as that is) because they were equal numbers 'good' and 'satisfactory', but for one 'Quilting: Design & Execution' 'Needs Attention' - yeah? Really? The hand stitched hexagons and rays and rows? I thought they were okay but even if not - it is MY FIRST QUILT! *seethe*.

Judge 2 - 'Fine idea to make it double-sided. Backside surprising. You could think of more quilting. OS'
I often hear that I have lovely eyes, I've been complimented on my legs - but I've never before been told that my backside is surprising.

When I saw the quilt that won my section... I was more than underwhelmed. I haven't shared a photo or anything here because I don't wish to be a total bitch as a bad loser so I shan't go into why it wasn't to my taste, but just the thing that really bothered me. The rule was your quilt must be at least a metre in dimension - and the winning one was in two pieces. In two pieces? So... it was two small quilts to me. Right? 'A quilt in two parts in-bloody-deed'. The challenges of making a piece at this scale taken out? Yup. Oooh anyone'll tell you I'm terrible for playing by the rules of the game, and to me, this felt like it didn't.

The staff working at the event when I spoke to them about taking my quilt at the end of Sunday weren't very nice to me either. They more treated me like a nuisance  than anything and even failed to look me in the eye. The white gloved helpers by the exhibits were lovely. Vendors and bar staff and such... delightful. Look I'm no mousey shy girl, I can take feedback, I can ask for what I want, I can certainly handle bored hostility from some professions (in fact one of my favourite games is making the grumpy bus driver smile)... but here when the quilty guild are supposedly concerned about bringing young folk into the game, and in the My First Quilt section...? You might expect a note on the my first quilts feedback forms at least saying 'We hope you find these comments helpful and submit a quilt with us again next year' - something like that? Ummm... nope.

Oh and the feedback form was in Comic Sans! No wonder it churned my mood. Well it all just put me off. That's not to say I won't make more quilts, but I have no intention of playing this FoQing game again.

But hey not to worry. It doesn't really matter. Rant over. I'm not heartbroken - this is just my feedback on the event. I went to a funeral the next day and you struggle to care too much about such silly things then.

Back to the positive stuff? That day I got to see my quilt exhibited, admired, and photographed (which felt really odd)! I saw some interesting quilt details and kit. I got to be part of the first ever Pinworks excursion and I bought an amazingly lovely dinosaur ribbon.

Geek Boy Quilt was hung so you could see both sides! 
The Pinworks/ Darn it and Stitch outing was super fun and its FoQers were very supportive. Spending the day with Jo and Verity was a giggle (and hanging out with Penny (ratsasbigascats) is always a joy) (see pics if you like). Coming back to the mini bus to a chorus of 'You were robbed' and '...but yours was clearly the most original...' etc. from the rest of the ladies more than made up for the rest.

As you'll have seen from my previous blogs on the subject you'll know that I learned a lot from the whole experience... and most importantly I set the goal and met it. I exhibited a piece of my work - and hell being able to say that turns out to be a big thing. I can also now see why the Modern Quilty lot tend to work the event promoting products or books etc. rather than submit the wonderful quilts that we see them blog about and such.

What next..? It's late now and tomorrow's a big day for me *yawn* - but I'll explain soon.


P.S. Forgive me please if this post is typo-tastic but my eyes are tired.