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 ;-) .  



  1. I am beyond proud of you for doing this. So beyond proud that I am rounding on jealous - turns out real life office jobs are much more tedious than I remember and I am longing to return to my student days! I cannot wait to see all the wonderful techniques you are going to experiment with and see the ways you make them your very own.

    Very. Exciting.

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