Sunday, August 17, 2014

Steps in the Creative Process

Easy rose. Nice, but what's next?
Tom here. I've always been fascinated by other people's creative processes. Bob Welch's Pebble in the Water describes the author's long, sometimes discouraging, but ultimately rewarding process of writing his previous book, American Nightingale. While researching the life of a heroic WW II nurse, Welch journeyed as far as Boston, Massachusetts and the beaches of Normandy, France. I was gripped from beginning to end reading this book about the writing of another book.

One thing about the creative process is you can't cut corners. Such is the craft of longarm quilting. Granted, learning quilting designs isn't quite so arduous as writing an award-winning historical nonfiction -- but steering the longarm has it's challenges.

Step in the process: doodling on paper
I previously mentioned my fondness for roses and how I'm intrigued by floral patterns. Early on, I found a simple rose design (above), which was pretty easy to quilt. Since then, I've discovered another more advanced rose in Cheryl Malkowski's Doodle Quilting.

Malkowski begins by saying, "It's easy to make beautiful roses."
Next step: practicing on muslin
So I took her word for it and headed straight to the longarm. Well, I soon discovered it's not that easy. Don't worry, I didn't practice on an actual quilt. Denise and I hone our craft on blank muslin until we've mastered patterns. My efforts at the new rose pattern were so bad that I was wasting good muslin. I realized that I'd bypassed a step in the process. I needed to backtrack, grab a pen and practice drawing the rose on paper. As you may know, most quilt patterns are a continuous line, so the pen stays on the paper from start to finish. After over three dozen pen-doodled roses, I resumed longarming -- with more encouraging results.

Is it the destination that's satisfying? Or is it the journey? I prefer the journey because of the sense of adventure and the feeling of moving forward. Of course it's nice to reach the destination, but I soon get antsy. Where do we go next? Hmm, a more complex, detailed and realistic rose sounds interesting. Show me that pattern!