I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. For the last two years actually. About life, next steps, what I want to be when I grow up. You know, the big picture. I have been many things already… An opera singer, a voice teacher, a corporate worker bee, a serial hobbyist, a mother. I have been itching to get back into the workforce again. I need to be busy. I need to make money. But what kind of job/career/business should I do? That has been the million dollar question.
When I left singing as a career, the decision was relatively simple and painless, as I had been forced to shed that identity towards the end of my career (read more about that here). Do I miss it? Yes, sometimes, but not in the way you might think. I do not miss practicing, auditioning, or even singing itself, but I miss the collaboration of it. The singing with an orchestra or pianist, and singing with other performers. I loved teaching, but I can’t really make a living wage doing it. I have been there and done that with working in Corporate America and don’t really want to go back to that, but what is there besides that? Sewing doesn’t pay either, at least when you’re slow like I am or don’t really have any design skills to speak of. And we all know how well motherhood pays.
So what’s left?
I wish I had an answer. But I don’t. What can I do? What path can I take? Over the last two years I’ve done a lot of ruminating and have discovered a thing or two. One question that keeps coming up for me is, “Can I be an artist?” I’m sure at this point you’re all thinking to yourself, is she serious? Artists don’t make any money. And this leads to the more important question, “Am I an artist?”
When I was a singer, I never thought of myself as an artist. Other musicians were, but not me. I was just a singer. I didn’t write the music, I only sang it. I didn’t even give myself credit for interpreting it. I was not an artist. I have a friend, a fellow singer I met at Northwestern, whom I admire very much. Shannon can sing, play piano, paint, draw, sculpt, and she even made a gorgeous koi mosaic tabletop. She can do anything and everything well and beautifully. I think she is the most talented person. She is an artist, in the truest sense of the word. But not me. Back then, I couldn’t draw or paint I thought. I never even tried. I couldn’t and still can’t play an instrument except for sing. I wasn’t that talented.
But when I look back on the life I’ve led thus far, I notice a pattern. I have been making stuff my entire life. I’ve made music. I’ve made mosaics. I made Jack. I’ve made clothes. And I’ve even painted. I’m quite proud of my subway lady painting.
20 years ago, I would have said, definitively, that I would never be able to paint a face. It was too hard, too detailed. But I have. And while it doesn’t look exactly like the source photograph, it does look like a real face of a real person. I can scarcely believe it. Every time I look at it, I can hardly believe I painted it myself. I’m not saying it should be on a museum wall. I’m just saying it’s not a sadly lopsided unrecognizable slop of a face.
But what is an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? I’m constantly thinking about projects, whether it’s the mosaic table I’m planning right now or the impromptu Halloween costume I’ve been asked to make or what my next painting subject will be. I am constantly creating in my head. My head is filled with next projects. I want to make stuff. I don’t care what medium it is, I just want to make something.
I’ve never thought of myself as an artist because I’ve never thought of myself as being creative. When people tell me I am creative, even today, I demur and say, “Oh no, not really.” But what if being an artist or being creative isn’t only about talent? What if it is about the urge to create. What if it is about the willingness to show up and do the work, the process of creating. Well, if that’s the case, then I am an artist. I have a constant urge to create, every day. I may not create something or finish something every day, but I am thinking about it or puzzling out the small obstacles that crop up on the road of creativity. It’s taken me 30 years to realize that I am an artist, much less feel comfortable saying I am one. I will leave the question as to why it’s so hard for me to admit it for another time. Right now, I just have to figure out how to make a living as an artist. Anyone have any suggestions?
Hi, my name is Elizabeth. I’m an artist and I make stuff.
So what are you? Are you an artist too?
The sewing mojo is slowly returning to these parts thankfully. I don’t know what did it for me. Was it working in another medium? Was it looking in the closet at all my clothes, all of which I am now tired? Or was it that the mojo just simply decided to return of its own accord? I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t care. At least it’s back.
And I have something to show for it too.
First off, I made spa/sleep mask for a friend’s daughter as part of her birthday present. I just found a random tutorial online, here. It worked out rather well. I used lingerie elastic for the band. My deviations to the pattern were to 1. add dried lavender to the mask for a nice aromatherapy touch, 2. use one elastic band, and 3. not to add top stitching. I used a poly charmeuse that I bought at Chic Fabrics in NYC a few years ago.
I totally want one too now.
Next up is a gift for my dad. His birthday was last week. I whipped up (I have always wanted to say I whipped something up I must confess) another S5271 lounge pants. This time, I made it San Diego appropriate fabric by not using flannel, but just a ltwt cotton from Yardage Town. I did better on the in seam pockets this time and he can now actually put his hands in the pockets. I used a wider elastic as the 1/2 inch size the pattern calls for seems kind of skimpy. I used a 1 inch elastic this time and it was awesome. He loved them and has been wearing them every day since. I hope he washes them soon.
Check out that plaid matching! I’m pretty proud of myself. I mean I meant to match it, but I always mean to and it doesn’t always turn out so well.
I love how I catch the top of the pockets into the waistband so they don’t flop around inside the pants. In related but sad news, the first pair of lounge pants I made for him two years ago finally gave up the ghost when two long tears in the seat of the pants appeared recently. Fabric fatigue. At least this was a timely gift.
And last but not least, mama has a new dress! I wanted something new to wear out with the man yesterday and I thought another tank dress, M6559, was in order. It’s such a simple dress. I think this version is a little loose, which just goes to show you that every fabric behaves differently and one should baste, baste, baste to fit each time. Sigh. I might take it in, but then again, I might not. I think y’all know how much I like to alter things. NOT! Oh, and again, I used Karla’s most excellent tip of using FOE (so aptly named, as it is indeed a foe to sewing) to stabilize the neck and armhole edges. If you haven’t tried this out yet, you must. Super easy way of finishing those edges. I used a sweater knit that I picked up from Yardage Town recently. It was so cute and I love that coral stripe. I just so happen to have a cardy that exact color in my closet; although I ended up not using it at all last night as it has been so warm here lately. Speaking of which, I am really missing a true fall, like the one NYC has every year. What I wouldn’t give for trees turning color, a nip in the air and the smell of wet leaves on the ground…
I think the little boy who lives with me has a future in photography as he is very good at putting a thinnerizer filter on each picture.
So now that the mojo is back, I hopefully can start and finish those super late birthday presents for my nieces. So embarrassing.
Yeah… I didn’t salvage that tank dress. It’s still laying wadded up in some dark corner. But I have made something recently. Since I started this blog many years ago, I have always stated that someday I would get back to making mosaics. But I never did. But I’ve been toying around with the idea of making them again and finally just got out my mosaic making tools and stuff out of the moving boxes in the garage. I thought I would maybe do a small project with Jack’s class, but I think it might be too unwieldy a project for them. I don’t know. I still might come up with a workable project for them. We’ll see.
But since I had everything out, I thought I may as well make something. I had a wooden trivet base and tons of plates, so I made picassiette trivet. Boy was I rusty! I used the wrong tile cutters for the project, the spacing is a little on the large side, and my alignment isn’t perfect, but it turned out ok I think. It’s my first project after a seven year hiatus. Give me a break!
Without further ado, here it is…
For scale reference, this is about a 7.5 inch plate on a 10 inch wooden base. Jack helped me glue down the middle pieces. You can’t see it in the photo, but I added a bit of deliberate “wabi sabi” to my piece by using one slightly greenish yellow tile for the side when I ran out of the yellow tiles. A slight imperfection for my “broken” plate piece.
Not sure what my next project will be. Sewing or otherwise. Still in a little creative rut.
Hello! Long time no see!
The little boy who lives with me and I had a lovely summer and I hope you all did too. We had an epic car trip, driving 2,540 miles through Utah, Colorado and Arizona. We visited 4 National parks, including Bryce Canyon, Dinosaur Monument, Arches, and the Grand Canyon. And we spent a lovely week with my sister and her family in Snowmass/Aspen. We only got lost once in spite of having a GPS map and drove on one 30 mile dirt road. It was such an awesome adventure. Here are a few photos from our trip (don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a ton of them).
Jack scared the crap out of me on that last picture. I was about 4 feet away from the canyon edge when I was taking that picture and he snuck behind me to photo bomb. Cute but totally freaked me out.
So we’ve been home a few weeks, and school, soccer and flag football have all started. I’m looking for a job. So things are a bit busy. I have had a friend in town come over a few times so she could work on my sewing machines and get some help with some projects. And I have to admit that helping her made my mojo tickle a little bit. I haven’t touched my machines for a long time. My sewing area was a disaster. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I would sew again. I am so sick of trying to fit myself. But helping my friend and seeing some of my fabric just waiting for me got me wanting to sew again.
I tried to make M6559 tank dress again with this really cool graffiti fabric I picked up in July. It was the perfect weight for that pattern, not too skimpy, not too thick. I thought I would use my coverstitch to bind the neck and armholes, but it was a disaster. The binding twisted, was too lumpy for the serger to close up the shoulder seams. What could have been a cute and quick dress, turned out a complete wadder. My first time sewing in months and it was a failure. I guess I’m a bit rusty.
I have to say it was quite a disappointment. But maybe this will be my way in. I am going to buy more of that fabric if I can’t salvage this one. We’ll see.
So, am I back to blogging? I don’t know. I did say I would check back in with you in September and here I am. I don’t know if I want to continue this blog still though. It was such a respite not writing over the summer and not reading other blogs. I’m not into popularity contests, sew alongs, and how many followers I have. I did like having a voice and sharing my garments, wadders and otherwise with you. But as I said in July, I’m just not sure I have much else to say. I guess I will have to see if I have the urge to write another post and take it from there.
I hope you all had a great summer and that you’re enjoying the new season and all that it brings. Cheers!
Long time no write, right? Yes I did make it up to LA. Bought only one fabric, intended for my nieces’ bday dresses. I did wear my new top but forgot to have Sherril or Jeanette take a picture. That’s ok though, because I was having a really bad hair day.
However, the real reason I write today is to give you a heads up that I am taking a break. I think every sewing blogger eventually hits a period where blogging becomes a chore or where you lose the blogging mojo or y0u just plain run out of things to say. It usually hits around the 5-7 year mark. So I’m right on time, n’est ce pas? A lot of the sewing bloggers that I loved when I first discovered sewing blogs no longer post and haven’t for years now. Others have trickled down to fewer and fewer posts. I think there might be a life cycle for blogging and I might be near the end of mine.
I am definitely taking an internet break this summer. I’ve stopped looking at Facebook. I am no longer logging onto my blog reader — I haven’t read a single sewing blog in over two weeks. And I think this will be my last post on SEWN for the summer at least.
When I first learned to sew after the little boy who lives with me was born, finding sewing blogs and becoming part of the sewing community was how I learned to sew. Some of my best friends in real life are sewing friends I met online, whom I would never have met if not for the interwebs. I am very grateful to have found the friends I know and love.
The sewing community online has changed so much since I first joined it. There are so many young, enthusiastic new sewers out there now. They have a lot more to say than I do right now, so I defer to them to pass the torch.
I will check in at the end of the summer and see how I feel about continuing SEWN again or not after my little hiatus. In the meantime, I am so very thankful to all my readers for the encouragement, advice and comments over the years.
Thank you! Have a great summer y’all!