Monday, October 5, 2009

At which point do you give up?

There are always at least two options with the creative struggle. Keep going and try to turn a sow's ear into something better, or give up, knowing that you have tried everything you can think of but now you really need to move on. I find about half the time perseverance will pay off and after countless trials and auditions, I am happy with the result. The rest of the time I feel like I have explored all the same options, but the result is still a mess.

The 'respond to the piece' mantra works particularly well for the more abstract works, where you have a starting point but no fixed idea of where the end point will be. However, I am just as likely to find myself in a no through road when I have a clear design, but I just can't translate it into my vision.

It seems, looking back, that the things which came together in a hurry have been the better and more satisfying works. The ones with ongoing problems often don't get to a happy solution.

Of course, every dead end is in its own way a learning experience. Mainly I've learned that I don't enjoy dead ends!

I think there is a difference between this dilemma and the kind of working method where you know you are going to make a few samples to see which is going to work best.

How about you? Do you know when to give up?

Julia in NZ

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Working with Metallic and other difficult threads

I think the best advice I ever got about using difficult threads was from Linda Schmidt in her Quilt University class:
  • Use Sewer's Aid lubricant on the spool (a few drops every once in awhile)
  • Straight lines/walking foot will have less breakage than using curved lines/free motion
  • Play with the top tension....usually need to loosen the tension
  • Go slow
  • Try the difficult thread in the bobbin and quilt from the back.
  • Have low expectations. Know that the thread will break periodically and celebrate when it doesn't break for a couple minutes!

I've noticed that Sliver or Glimmer (which isn't metallic, but mylar strips) stretches a bit, so doesn't break as easily as metallic thread. No need to lubricate mylar threads.

My favorite brands: Sulky Metallic (the variegated tri color #143 is pretty cool); Superior Metallic and FS Madeira Metallic (which is metallic wrapped about a black core of regular thread which helps with the breakage and looks like tiny beading)

So share your frustrations and successes here!