Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Deb's embroidery and tapestry

Last Spring I visited a friend of mine, who is an embroiderer, spinner and dyer. Deb has been developing a new line of work, and was setting goals for herself, taking her work in a new direction. We talked at length about how one does this; the new direction is often awkward, at first. Some of our habits from creating anything will apply, such as color choices, image choices, thread choices. So some aspects of the new work are present from the old work and do not need to be learned anew.

But some things are new: new materials, new ways to use old materials, new tools.

She told me about a friend of hers, a painter, who was learning a new medium, and decided to paint 100 small paintings in the new medium, experiments, quick studies, just 100 paintings, to become comfortable with the material, and test the media out to see how to incorporate its qualities into her work.

This seemed like a grand idea on "how to train yourself". I do not know if it is an original idea (off to google: can't find it in the first few hits of "making 100 things", most were about a 100 things challenge to de clutter!) (I laugh because making 100 *new* things will only add to my clutter!). At any rate, Deb decided she would make 100 small embroideries, and I took on the challenge of making 100 leather bags.

I am not starting from scratch. I will count, but offhand I've made (or am in the process of making, some are still unfinished) 13 leather/textile bags already (If, and I do, one counts the Pink Suitcase). This is in addition to the many all-textile bags I have made, and the beaded bags, which number in the "over 50" category. Some day soon I will do a few posts about the "old" bags, those in beads and knotted pile.

So! I have about 87 leather & textile bags to go. IF! I do make 100 bags, I will have learned a great deal. My hands will be more able, I will know the materials better, know the tools, I will have refined the tools I need to do what I want to do, my mind will be able to think more clearly in this medium, and my eyes and hands will see which designs worked or did not work.

I may feel competent well before 100 bags, and get bored. This is a goal, not a life sentence. I can change it at any time, if I feel I have reached the ends I wish to achieve. I am energized by the idea of 100 bags, big and small, some will be very small, and some, like a few of those first 13 bags, will be taken apart after construction, the parts re-used, the textile re-applied to another bag, so that I waste less, and have fewer bags when all is said and done.

After all, how many bags does one need? I am using them as teaching tools, samples, and the losers will be cut up and re-used.

Deb and I worked on our dyebooks a few weeks ago, Color By Number, then we took some time to make a few things. I made three knotted pile panels for 3 separate bags:

Deb's embroidery and tapestry

I also made her finish the small embroidery above (which she does not care for, but which I love!) and she gave me the little tapestry above, which she says has hung around her studio for years.

So I have 5 (!) more bags in the queue. See how easy this is? I am anxious! to get started. I can't wait to see how these come out. I have planned and changed plans already in my head several times, it is so much fun to think about!

And that's why I do all of this to begin with: I totally love doing it. I love thinking about it, planning them, not necessarily having them, but having the joy of making them. 100? We shall see :).


Blogger Lynn said...

I lovelovelove the planning. I mostly love the making, until something becomes tedious or annoying. I am ecstatic when something really works out, or even comes close. And I shall be interested to see all 87 bags!

10:05 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Setting goals seems to be a common - and worthy - theme these days. I have been recently motivated by some dear fiber friends to start taking myself and my craft more seriously, so I shall endeavor to accomplish my own 100 things!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Charleen said...

I think the general concept, not the specific number, has been around for some years. I remember my aunt telling me that I should sew all of the lines on 20 pieces of notebook paper before I thread my machine. My 10 year old brain could only handle a few lines on a few sheets but I get the concept!! Later I was told that I needed to warp my loom twenty times and it would become more natural.

These days I just enjoy the thrill of learning new skills and putting them into practice. While some techniques are pushed aside for years I've even discovered the joy in revisiting them decades later. When I started to do a watercolor wash, thinking I was learning a new thing, I was instantly transported back to my sophomore year when I pen and ink sketches with washes. The memory had been tucked away for so long that I hadn't even realized it until the brush was in my hands.

How lucky are we to have the time and ability to learn to techniques and enjoy the process as we go? I always look forward to hearing about your next projects and new ideas!!

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good goals, good planning. Good luck. :)

6:28 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I appreciate how disciplined you are and how you develop your skills. I, on the other hand, seem to jump around to various techniques and, even crafts. I am very easily distracted!

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Dayamitra said...

I'm about to move on from weaving silk scarves to clothing now. I'm beginning to plan for the projects. It can sometimes get a bit overwhelming with all the decisions of what to make first and what yarn to spin that's appropriate!
Colour is another decision to make too! I guess it doesn't matter what I begin with as long as I begin. I want to explore colour more now as well.
There's lots to learn and I think I'll have to live to be 500!
I am amassing a stash to have enough of the same yarn to weave an article of clothing though (by clothing I mean not just socks or scarves. It's the bigger picture I now want to pursue along with the smaller project when I need then).
How could life ever get dull with so much to do and learn?

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Kayla said...

Lovely blog you hhave here

10:32 AM  

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