Archive for the ‘Grand Errors’ Category

Mad Science and Art Part 2

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

blue flowerw

One of the great things about being an artist is that  you get to redefine how people use all kinds of artistic toys.

There’s a mad kind of creativity that ends up reaching for the oddest tools at the strangest moments. It’s how we grow.  In the main, it’s embarrassingly awkward, thrashing around with with the pile of things that might work.

This week I was shaping leaves and flowers with Innovative Crafts  Heat and Shape. We’ll have a full article in the Winter Issue of Crazy Quilt Magazine, and you can read it there. 

ironing toolsw

I spent yesterday trying out different curling irons on this stuff. This is from a woman whose worn a pixie hair cut at least 40 years of her life.  We even tried out the one with balls. It didn’t exactly  work the way I expected but it did curve petals.

None of it happens if you can’t try and fail with abandon. I lack any rational linear ability to reason in straight lines. That’s ok. I can thrash through one weird idea after another with abandon. The only times I really get into trouble is when someone sets up a system that will only work one way. I’m not very good at systems that only work one way.

And after I’ve dyed fabric in the crock pot and quilted my quilt upside down with a Sweet Sixteen, what did you expect?

The Glamorous World of Art: Not So Much

Monday, January 7th, 2013

There’s a world of difference between being and artist or a writer, and doing art and writing. That moment in front of an audience appreciating what you’ve done is very ephemeral. Don’t blink. It’s short. 

The eternity simply doing what is needful to do your art is much longer. And as Screwtape said in the Screwtape Letters, humans don’t do consistent constant efforts. We go in waves and troughs in every direction, moods and well as works.

So yesterday when I went into the studio and found the washer filling without a stop and the plumbing leaking from the ceiling, I said to myself, in the way one does.” Another glamorous day of art.” It’s a bit early to call the plumber. It’s just about time to call the washer repair man.

I believe being creative is not a special gift. It’s part of who we are as people. It’s your human genome at work. We are creative about how we order our world, make our lives functional, keep ourselves sane. Sometimes it spills into great colors, ideas sprung into the world as a huge and lovely statement. Sometimes it simply just spills out of your washer.

So with that in mind, I’m going to celebrate my creative spirit with a call from the plumber and a day filming sewing process. Because the creative urge and need doesn’t stop for disasters. It simply adds them to the laundry list.

The Screwtape Letters is a lovely book by C. S. Lewis. It’s about a senior devil teaching a younger devil the art of temptation. You’ll find it on Amazon or probably your local library. It’s a worthy read.

For yourself, I wish your creative spirit alive and active in all your day brings. And I hope mine brings the plumber and the machine repair man.

Ellenism’s: Things that Come Out of My Mouth

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Like anyone who teaches, I’m aware of the steady stream of things that come out of my mouth, particularly in class. I talk alot. It’s part of the craft. You can’t teach anyone if you can’t get their attention. So you keep a stream of verbiage going on during demo to keep them focused on you. It helps if it’s funny. Few of us are really still Sesame Street watchers, but that 30 second attention span for learning efforts started there and is still where most people are. You have to keep the students with you.

 And there are certain things that are really worth saying. You don’t always say them at the same time in a class, because you’re waiting for the context to say it in, but it should be said. I have a list of them. Actually in different books of mine I. have different lists covering the topics. They’re the things that should be said. They’re going to make things easier for students. Easier is good. If it’s technical stuff that will make their world work better, I make them say it with me. Childish? Well, of course! How grown up are you?All learning happens in that child’s space. We can be any age at any time. The child space is where we can try, play and work without being so desperately concerned about being good enough.

 So I thought I’d share some of them outside of class. These are my Ellenism’s: the things that come out of my mouth in class.

One of my favorite ones is “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly”. Yep. You heard me right.

I always have an intake breath from someone in class on that. What did she say? What did she mean?

I don’t really mean that things shouldn’t be good. I mean we can suspend judgement on what is and isn’t good for an awfully long time. And that really good things happen for us in doing that. Most art history suspends that judgement for 50-100 years. Within that waiting spot, within that time of action without judgement, we can explore, try, succeed, retry, retreat, go forward, step back, and accomplish the things that come only in time with lots of repetition and odd trials. 

If you are in love with your product, you’ll live your life in a series of disappointments. Either it will be the most wonderful thing in the world, and then you’ll have to be disappointed with all your less wonderful efforts, or it will not measure up to that one wonder. IF you are in love with your process, there are no judgements. One process gets you to another. That in itself is a huge win.

Everything you love is worth doing badly. Step by step forward and back you will find yourself doing it well simply because you’re doing it. Drop the judgement. Drop the fear. Simply do it and be amazed at how what you do ebbs, flows and changes into something wonderful in time.

Have I made enough dragonfly quilts? I can still imagine them dancing in a way I haven’t seen yet, over skies and waters unknown. Its worth doing. Badly or well. Simply because it’s worth doing.


Zeke Dyes Fabric, Ellen Dyes Bird: Notes from the Dog House

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I’m Ezekiel, the new studio dog at Thread Magic Studio. I’m learning the fine points of being Ellen’s studio dog. We have three at the studio.I’m here at the studio door. Mom spends a lot of time at the computer in the living room, so I was shocked when we went to the studio.

It appears a studio dog has a lot of things to do.

I didn’t know which way to look.


Mom dyed a lot of fabric. I ate a lot of cookies.Then Mom accidently dyed Bird. I guess you should think first before you demand to be petted in the studio.

Pat Winter (The Dye Cup Fairy) came and got Mom to open the cookie jar again.Pat dyes fabulous silk ribbons, and since it takes just a little dye for that, she likes to use the ends of the dye in the cups. Works all around.You can see Pat’s amazing dyed ribbon and the astonishing things she does with it on her blog at Pat Winter Gatherings.

You’ll find more blogs about her on this site at

Technology and the Dye Cup Fairy

And Pat Winter: It’s always the Quiet Ones.

Finnie says the secret is to keep your head down and nap a lot. He seems to have that down to a science.

Here’s what the fabric looked like.

Will I dye more fabric? Well, it’s a big cookie jar out there.

Technologically Egged!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012


Have you ever had a perfect teacher? Who never made a mistake? Who was always right no matter what?

Well, that would not be me. I thought that the quizzes would indeed be postable to the facebook page. When I went to look for them, there were none there. When I went to I found 44 people had indeed taken the quizz but there was  no place where I could check for who they were. OOOOOOOOOOOOOPS!

Since this was a disaster from the point of people posting results, we’re going to let everyone win. I’m going to request that everyone who took the test email me with their book choice. I’ll pick three physical book winners at random and send ebooks to everyone else. With my apologies.

So, if you’ve liked summer school and taken your test email me and tell me which book you would like. Your choices are: 

Dragonfly Sky ISBN978-0-9822901-2-5 Dragonfly Sky This delightful dragonfly project  focuses on bobbin work with thick and thin threads, angelina fiber, on soft edge appliqué. It has an inspirational gallery section, a full set of instructions, patterns, sources and  tips.

Lady Bug’s Garden ISBN 97809822901-3-2Ladybug’s Garden A step by step project book that covers free motion zigzag appliqué, soft edge, hard edge, and  cut away appliqué. Pattern, tips and sources included. 

Dye Day Workbook ISB97809822901-8-7  Ellen Anne Eddy’s Dye Day Workbook: A whirlwind class in color theory, has color charts throughout for both Dharma and Pro Chem, gives Ellen’s particular recipes for her famous light source fabric and step by step instruction for both dyeing fabric and hand-dyed threads.]

Easy Machine Binding Techniques

ISBN 97809822901-1-8 Ellen Anne Eddy’s Quick and Easy Machine Binding Techniques Easy and fun binding techniques without a hand stitch in them. Cut continuous bias with a rotary cutter. Use the quick Flip and Fold bias method to whiz through applying bias. Make beautiful corded edges instantly without stitching by hand. Ellen Anne Eddy, Author of Thread Magic, offers you a collection of simple speedy skills for finishing your masterpieces.

If you just want an ebook and you didn’t take the test or read the blog, there’s not much I can do about that. It doesn’t really hurt me but it does cheat you. 

 If you’re wishing you could kick me around the room for having set up a test situation that did not work, please get in line. You’ll have to wait until I’m finished.

Seriously, I do want to know if you liked this. If you did, we’ll do it again. If you have problems with it, let me know and we’ll see how we can improve it.

Please send your email  with your comments and book choice  to me at


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