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A poppy by any other name….

For my How to Sell You Art Online course at The Abundant Artist I was set the task of making a piece of art in one hour and then journaling about it.  Here the result.

THE HOW

The how is easy – a piece of fabric and a piece of stabilizer and lots of thread. I window-boxed my fabric and traced the flower I wanted to embroider. Then I started embroidering – outside edges first, filling in, then inside petals after changing colors. I realized I should have used a hoop from the beginning – my fabric was bunching up, so I hooped the piece. Added white satin stitches and yellow stamens on the flower. More red and done (my hour was up). This might be a prototype to become a pillow or a pocket on a bag.

 Poppy

THE WHAT

I sat down to dinner and said to my husband ‘I need to make a piece of art.’. That was about all, but by the next day I had decided and asked him for a photo of the poppy that had just bloomed in our garden and been ruined by the rain. The flower, the color, the prominence of this plant. All of these things made me decide to make this piece for this class. Usually I think pictures of flowers are mundane.

But I really like to sew and to decorate textiles. Basically, I’ve been sewing since I can remember, but in the beginning it was just something to do. Then it became a way to make clothes that I couldn’t otherwise have – things that didn’t exist and, of course, to save money.

After a break from clothes sewing I moved on to baby quilts – it was that time of life and I gave quilts to my friends. For myself and my own kids I started to do machine embroidery in the hoop. This was fun for me and there were so many possibilities! I bought designs, downloaded free designs, changed them or started making my own designs. There were lots of t-shirts and towels. But after a few years I began to feel limited by the hoop and the ‘cuteness’ of the designs. I did discover other suppliers that weren’t so cute, but haven’t found something that really expressed what I am looking for. Perhaps that is because I don’t really know what I’m looking for. So I took an online course about design and my challenge was to create a way to embellish a t-shirt that went beyond the hoop. I started thinking about combining painting with my embroidery. But within the class I started more applique and reverse applique on my hooped design.

Talking about that makes me realize that I should continue to explore it.

But at the same time, I continue to quilt. Here there are lots of factors that influence me. I think you can never have too many blankets. I want people to use my art – to snuggle on the couch in front of the tv with their family, to make a cave with it, to put their baby on it. So one of the quilts I’ve recently made and that I quite like is a t-shirt quilt. This is a great way to capture memories, reuse material and make something that will last a lifetime. While I was making a t-shirt quilt for my husband I was approached by a lady who wanted a memory quilt for her son who is graduating from high school. I was able to show her what I had accomplished so far and got the commission. There is a lot of educating that needs to go into that – people have no idea what fabric costs or what the process of making a quilt is. How much time it actually requires. But I was able to make the quilt and she saw it at a few different stages and is pleased with the result.  However, at present both of these quilts are still top secret, since they have not yet been gifted to their respective recipients.

What would I be doing if I weren’t making art?

Working as a secretary, a translator, teaching English. I don’t know. Right now this is what I do. If I get to the point where I decide not to do it, life will take over and I’ll find a job. I’m flexible.

What made me choose fabric as a medium?

Quilts and textiles are everywhere in my life. I find other people’s homes look naked. And they don’t have any personality. I love it when I go someplace and see something personal that is different from what everybody has. We have photos my husband took on the wall and pieces he has welded standing around. Plus, tons of stuff the kids have created. We have a bunch of different rocks and pieces of wood we collected on our various vacations. But for me there was never any other choice. I have collected so much experience and knowledge. Not to say I know it all, but it is what I want to do. Funnily enough my husband and I recently took a pottery class using a wheel. We had fun, we learned a lot, we made some great things. But I realized that I never wanted to be a potter! I don’t like being wet, I don’t have the strength to manuveur a large amount of clay, I find it a bit limited in terms of what you can make. I just love fabric. Sewing reminds me of my mom, my grandmother, my aunt and my best friend’s mom. All of whom have influenced my choice for fabric and sewing and quilting.

What are the mediums that I am exploring now?

I took an online Sulky certifcation course and did my first real free-motion embroidery. That was fun! At first I was really hesitant, but then I got into it. So in the meantime I’ve made a fish. That was a big step for me and I would love to do more. I painted a bag as a result of a Craftsy course and it looks like the ocean. Hence the fish.

Plus, I recently got a chance to use a punching machine (that means felting with a machine that looks like a sewing machine, but isn’t). WOW! That was fun and opens up a lot more possibilities. That is something I would love to explore.

What do I want for myself as an artist?

That’s a hard one. I want to continue to grow. And I want to find an audience. Online I have been able to connect with people who do things that are similar to what I do. But I would love to get paid for what I do.  I guess that means finding an audience of people who can’t do what I do, but like what I do.

I would also like to get better. I feel that my work is primitive. I would like for it to get more complex. I’m not sure if that means a more exact representation of the object (for example the fish) or perhaps a more abstract representation of the object. I can’t decide.

What kind of success would you like to have?

Hmm. Does it sound shallow to say ‘monetary’ success? I have been in my store for 5 years. I started with a certain amount of money and thought I would keep going as long as it lasts. It is still lasting, but I would really like a salary or a bonus or something! Because right now I feel like I am working for free and if that is the case then maybe I should be doing something that helps someone else – like working with the refugees here in Munich.

What would the ideal reaction be to your art?

‘Wow! I want that!’ I go to different textile events and every once in a while this happens to me. I bought a hat for Euro 120. I LOVE that hat. In the winter I wear it alllllll the time. It keeps me warm, it looks great, it makes me happy. I met a lady and bought 2 of her dresses – they’re unique, I love the way they look, they look great on me – they make me happy. So I want to make people feel happy about something they own.

What is your biggest obstacle in making art?

Probably my own limited vision. It is much easier for me to make something if someone says to me ‘I wish…’ and shows me a certain fabric. I can usually envision an answer. A quilt, a bag, a something. Perhaps that’s another limitation – I really want most of my stuff to be useful. I’m not into ‘dust collectors’ – things that stand around and gather dust. And I tend to keep it simple – perhaps too simple. I think I need to start adding more layers to my work. But I often feel that something is finished and don’t want to ruin it.

2 thoughts on “A poppy by any other name….

  1. Hi Claudia,

    It was nice reading about the what and why you do art. I know that just like you, many textile artists would like to make money from their work. That’s my next research project -To get us all answers. so stay-tuned.

    1. Hi Clara,
      I’ve been following your blog for a while and hope to do more stitch-the-sketch. In some ways the money is secondary – I love what I do. But at some point in time I feel it needs to happen. So this post was my homework for The Abundant Artist. Maybe I’ll find some answers there!

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