On Collaboration

I went to an artist talk last night that reinforced my ideas about collaboration. He said that if you put a professional engineer and artist in the same room to solve a problem the outcome won’t be the same as having an artist with a pretty good knowledge of engineering figure it out herself.

Two heads might not be better than one.

Two heads might not be better than one.

Each time I have been involved in a team approach to a design solution I am energized by the discussions, motivated by the goal and hopeful about the outcome. Yet, there are challenges. Every step along the way brings a set of compromises and a new way of looking at those goals and outcomes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

What have I learned? I prefer doing it all myself.


I can take the blame, find the alternatives and be responsible for the outcome. I can throw it under the table when it doesn’t work out. I can meet my own timetable. I can re-evaluate without stepping on toes. Not so easy when others are involved.

But this process of locking my doors to others is self-limiting. Pushing away my expectations while entertaining alternative ideas broadens my vision of the end product.


So I will continue to find ways to play well with others. And collaborate. In events, in art, in thought. Even if it makes my nerves nervier.

The tale of the crankie

It was fate--the day I learned about crankies. Ever since seeing a Red Grooms exhibit at the Brooks Museum in Memphis I have been haunted by the idea of a moving quilt. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about go to this website for a fun trip through crankie land. So here's the tale of the tape for my crankie, I watch too much tv news.

I watch too much tv news

Here's a video of the scroll in its entirety. Enjoy!

Beastie Boy and His Pals

Sometimes pieces emerge out of my subconscious without warning. My task is to allow that to happen. That is what happened with Beastie Boy and His Pals

I am appalled by the way our government is being run. The creatures that inhabit the power centers have changed the way I think about threats. As a citizen I vote in and pay attention to local, regional and federal issues. I read articles that discuss both sides of issues. I listen to the news from other countries. I try to sift out the skewed, embellished and outright outrageous to come to an understanding. And I feel helpless.

Solace comes in the work. 

Beastie Boy and His Pals started with this scrappy composition. I have learned that scraps can talk. 

The composition had two sides. A cool side and a warm side with static in between. Similar to the dialog being broadcast to us each day without rest. Like the two parties playing their he said he said game. 

As mammals we are predisposed to see faces in inanimate objects. The instinct is a way to protect ourselves from potential threats. So as I added sections to the composition I started seeing beasts -- beasts with eyes, beasts with tails, beasts with goggles. I liked how the three beastie figures outlined in the pic at the right started to create a nest of a composition. 

But then I turned it upside down and liked it even more. Beastie Boy appeared to hunch into the room and his pals were all there. 


The dialog continued on a detail level. 

Arrowmont daydreams

I heard from the folks at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts yesterday. They let me know that the workshop I am teaching (Follow the Thread) in October is a GO. Reading the email instantly brought up thoughts of those cool mountain nights, the rushing waters of nearby streams, the great fun I had working with my students, and the feeling that there are some positive things happening in the world. 

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

Driving into Arrowmont, an oasis of creativity.

I love teaching. Spending some concentrated time with dedicated artists is a gift that keeps on giving. I am inspired, honored and excited to be part of their creative process. When we happen upon little aha! moments during the week there is a real sense of accomplishment. It's a tonic for my soul.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

Our workshop from the catwalk above. It's a great space to work in.

So today, in 100 and above heat, I am dreaming of Arrowmont in October. It's a daydream of cool optimism. Join us if you can, there is still time to register. I'll be teaching free-motion quilting at its free-est.

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
October 21-27