#4Life Path Intersects O’Keeffe-DS106-Creating-Community

Tony Vaccaro

Reading my feeds and mail today some interesting intersections of things to think of and connect.
First there was the new blog post by Nana Lou in the Burgeron Family site about a Conference Presentation on Twitter that several of the members collaborated on and delivered. In true DS106 and Burgeron style it was extraordinary, world class content creatively and succinctly put together to tell the story. AWESOME WORK FAMILY!.
I have been balancing digital art, hands on art, family, and some consulting work over the last 6-8 months. I saw the rally call and was very humbled that my place in the family group was thought to be a contribution and possible inclusion. This group of individuals has been a milestone marker on my life path and I do consider them family. The wonderful thing is – it really is a type of family – no one gets ex-communicated because they don’t participate in everything. Sometimes you put in more work than others and sometimes you slide – but you are always valued and included (aka respected and loved).

This event was started by Todd Conway – Ronald L., stepped up and Rochelle Lockridge was right in there pulling things together again. Others as well – all connected. The summary of the Twitter conference was captured by Nana Lou Burgeron on how Todd got everyone started and the 15 minutes of fame can be read here.
Once again an excellent example of how art and technology along with community can be the most wonderful educational environment for all learners. (remember – my view is we are learners from birth to grave and it is personal)
I am very proud of my digital family and the work they do. I am also thankful that I will have the opportunity to continue to create and connect with them even though I kinda let this one fly by me. How great is that?!
Next in my feeds were conversations from a beginning quilters group.

 This group finds excitement and energy in sharing new tips, new found knowledge, sharing of projects and supporting each other. Much like DS106 community – it is art, it is individual, but it is also collaborative. Sharing is important and done freely and often and it is expected that you build from someone else’s work and efforts and return to allow others to take and make in their own way. So the making is hands on – but the ideas, the knowledge building and sharing are digital.
My next feed was a post from Connie Weber. A fantastic educator in MI who always keeps everyone thinking and looking at the world with fresh eyes. She is an artist in the sense of her creations and her work with her 5th grade students. Everyone should be in her learning community!
Today she posted an article about Georgia O’Keeffe’s ideas on what it takes to be an artist. O’Keeffe has always been a favorite of mine. Her art, her views on life. While she very much seemed to be a loner and prefer to secluded from others, she was very much someone who shared and created community. She did so through her writing. No social media in her time, but letters. She shared with others, listened and took in responses. So while physically she kept to herself and created – she always was connected to others and had the conversations of art and life that made her work better and stronger. That community also supported her. It allowed her to be the artist she was instead of the artist society might have dictated.
Her lessons all make sense to me. They apply to many aspects of my life.
And with DS106 in my #4Life – I would add to Georgia’s work on lessons and add #5.

Lesson #1: Observe the world around you—closely, hungrily

This one has rung true in everything from parenting, photography, daily living and business. You can learn so much from just looking closely. (Flickr 365  Pic a day)

Lesson #2: Organization is key to productivity

Another one that I have learned the hard way over the years. The tedious, the details, the right tools, the organizing to create are important. When you have this in place it frees you to focus on the creating -thus you are productive. It is hard at first – but pay off is great. Once established it generates more creation time vs. wasted time finding, sorting, cleaning up….

Lesson #3: Don’t sweat mistakes—learn from them

Always! Fail Forward!!! Mistakes are you friends and best teacher. You only have to sweat them when you allow them to be the result. What you do with your mistakes is most important.

Lesson # 4: Pay no attention to trends—be yourself

The best is you. It is not a competition with others – only yourself. The lure of fame or the fast buck or being popular can sometimes cloud. But when you really look at those who do achieve greatness – they didn’t worry about being most popular – they only focused on being a better “me”. The greatest individuals and contributors are usually the ones nobody does know. The few that do become “great” often are the representative of the many who contributed. There are the few that take the extra effort and stand out and represent the many who work behind them – rather alongside them knowing it is the work and creating that is important.

My addition:
Lesson #5: Connect, collaborate, build from others to create community and trust.

Art and creating is individual and personal – but it happens when you are doing your own thing alongside others. It becomes greater thru sharing and building. When you find community that respects and appreciates your individual work but can make it their own in a slightly different way – wow!

My wish is you all experience that at some time. It makes a better you if you let it happen. And all it is is sharing and supporting, accepting and respecting. Go for it!

Creating in fabric – still Art

I continue to be creating in fabric lately. The digital part is documenting what I am doing.

I have a collector gene and sewing seems to fill that as well. There is the fabric hunt and acquisition. The tools and accessories. The patterns and the products. And then the set up and the organization. It really does fill so many spaces.

Organizing and creating rhythms and processes is necessary. I now have a command hook on the side of my sewing machine with my tail cutting scissors. Practicing using and putting back and always knowing where it is.

I used a letter sorter for hold my rulers. A vintage creamer and sugar bowl for my fabric clips. Bed risers on my table to raise it so it is comfortable for cutting and sitting at on a counter stool for assembly.

Next was the presser feet that came with my machine. the little plastic pouch was useless. I got an inexpensive plastic bead box and added labels. So far works great!

Presser foot storage

Bobbins – I started with a small plastic case. Each time I opened and took on out – they all came out and landed all over the room. And the tails – ugh!. I used some Amazon points and got some huggers for my spools and a BobbinSaver – a plastic ring that holds the bobbins. So far it is a huge improvement.

Bobbin storage

Thread tail containment


I have found a mentor to help me thru things. A smart and talented woman who does fantastic work – but with reality mixed in. She knows how to get to quality – but get the job done. Can’t thank her enough for taking me under her wing. We have some similar interests and she is so generous in her sharing and help online. LOL – she has chickens and roosters and one of her favorite fabric subjects are rooters…under her wing – — get it? LOL She is also a Flash WonderWoman! She can make 2 dozen feed sack totes in a day! Check her out at Grammies Little Aprons and Sew Much More on Facebook.

I am not looking to expand into selling lots of things and having to keep an inventory. But I am going to need an outlet to move some of the creations on. I already know I have more than I can use. I am exploring options.

The path I am most interested in is combining my vintage shopping pleasures with creating. The other tangent is learning more skills and getting to take part in activities from a small business in my hometown and support them – so using quilting techniques in my up cycle vintage creations. That probably really limits the market share. But I am not look

ing to earn living or make a fortune.

I met a vintage crafter online who was moving her MIL’s estate and purchased (very reasonably!) some Christmas tablecloths and a floral. The floral is dynamic. Not a favorite of mine, but it makes a statement. I worked on some interfacing combinations and some other things and created a nice size tote. Not as large as I had done – so actually more useful.

Standard tote

I was pleased with the results. I didn’t have dark pink thread on hand and didn’t edge the handles. My mentor was quick to point that out. I went ahead anyways.

There was still fabric left. I wanted to do a different style bag. Since I am not in a mass production cycle – I am more apt to create different bags for many reasons. One to keep improving my skills and two I don’t know what to do with them now – why would I have dozens of the same thing in different patterns. If I was doing craft shows or mass market, one type might work. For now I am creating one of a kind and limited designs.

So from this fabric I got a “Happy Bag”. A bag with a large “smile” pocket on the front.

Happy Bag - Front "smile Pocket"

Back of the bag.

Back of Happy Bag

I had to go to the vet today for meds for our Jaxin. It was a Saturday and there is this place near by called Northwinds Junk Post that I have wanted to explore. They are only open on weekends and it is 35 miles away – today was the day!

I was fortunate to find some seed sack cloth yardage. A little dirty – but cleaned up well. I can’t wait to use it as lining or as a bag itself. I will now be able to create an entire end product with vintage cloth!

Vintage Fabric SKOR!

All cleaned and folded for storage until used.

Vintage Fabric - cleaned and folded

And now I need to find LARGE vintage buttons and other doo dads!!! Lynn Prey – help!!! What do I look for and what are good prices?

For being in Wisconsin in the winter – things are feeling good and creating is going on.



Vintage camels tote

Vintage panel bag project

Finished the vintage camel cloth into a tote bag.

Vintage panel bag project

Added a pocket panel on the inside.

Vintage panel bag project

Feeling pretty good about this one. :-). No pattern – just math, some techniques and construction things I finally was able to do smoothly. Improvement on my edge stitching. Using up fabric and repurposing fabric that may have went to the landfill.

Now what do I do with it????



Fabric overload….new creations

Well I seem to be in a hands on fabric creation mode vs. digital right now. Seems okay with me.

This is a panel piece I received in a gift of a large bag of fabric pieces that had been collected. It is somewhat woven and could have been upholstery in its first use or a wall hanging? It has a weak and threaded section that I hope I can piece together a little bit. But fusing stablizer to it should hold it together. Part of the charm of repurposing is the blemishes. 🙂

I soaked the cloth in several baths over a couple of days and then put it thru a wash cycle. It is clean now – but probably lighter than original. I like that it is a little brighter.

New project

I had been at the Sewing Basket during a skinny bolt sale and found the green and gold print. There was a yard left and it seemed to be calling. I was extremely pleased when I got home and found it was a good match.

My mind had the piece destined to be a bag for better use in it’s next iteration. The colors and subject would make it difficult to use as a wall hanging without a specific person in mind that would find it a fit.

I am trying to NOT become a fabric hoarder and use as much as have and only get what I know I will use soon. The basket weave print is from when I was making things for my grandson’s nursery that didn’t get used.

Bag design

Fabric - Vintage

the panel was gifted to me by Judy S. Some soaking and cleaning brought out the colors. I was able to find some fabric that was perfect to go along.

I stabilized the tapestry and then backed ti with a cotton to create the binding.

Next it was adding it to the background.

The binding fabric is what I will use for the lining.

The bag will end up being about 20X16.

Learning to stop when I am tired so I don’t get sloppy.

I am excited to see how this will turn out!

Stay tuned!


Turns into Practice and supplies for another…

So I dove in today and cut up one of the vintage cloths I had gotten a few months ago. I bought it online. It wasn’t what I thought it was when I got it – but seemed okay. It had more stains than I could get out – but heck – it is used.

From create to practice to crumb supplies

I decided I would use the squares as quilt like patches instead of larger pieces cut that would cut off many of the graphics.

I started by cutting the border off so I can use it for the sides and top of a tote. then the strips of squares.

From create to practice to crumb supplies

All seemed to be going well.

Since the squares looked like patchwork – I thought I would do a semi quilt as you go panel for the front and back.

What I learned was vintage cloths while printed are not precise. Each section of squares are a different size even though when you view the full piece they all look the same. The number 3 seemed right to me so I I made 3 rows of 3.

From create to practice to crumb supplies

From create to practice to crumb supplies

It looked good on the assembly table….

I needed to bind around the panels after they were sewn onto the red. The panels were not even so trimming and futzing happened. I decided not to use the border on this bag because I could already see it wasn’t going well. I will use that on a second bag.

By using the tablecloths as fabric – there are many issues. I spend a lot of time folding – marking off – changing to see what way the fabric might become something new.

I set my mind to the 9 squares. Got them in place on strips and began the binding. Since the squares are not really square things started going sideways and a little off. Some “off” has a charm. Too much and it starts to look sloppy. And yet it is not being sloppy – but having to figure out and play with something new. I should have stopped and come back to it – but wanted to keep going.

Then my iron decided to throw a fit and let out a gush of brown water! – one whole section of the bag was stained.

I got things pieced together – I was feeling a little better about the direction. I then realized the bag was too big to be useful. The binding to hold the squares in was making the graphics seem too cut off. So I practiced trying to get the top edging lines straight and in place. 20 tries to practice! And I did get better at it.

I boxed my corners – that went well. 🙂

I stitched up the sides and gave it a press. It didn’t look too bad from a distance. I thought I would stop for the day and next time add the handles and the lining. I wanted to make some inside pockets too.

Looking at it a little longer – NOPE – it is going into crumb quilt blocks. I need to start knowing when to move on from something and start again.

I do think binding on the crumb quilt when the time comes will go much easier. All those pieces are more exact.

Stay tuned – you will see some of this in other projects. And I still have a second chance with this fabric for another tote try. Now I am thinking no grid and more free form because of the inconsistency of the blocks. That will help in keeping the bag size reasonable too and less piecing. I also am thinking lace or rick rack along the edges rather than traditional binding. Hoping the next one is not practice.


The iron spit out on the bottom of the bag and bottom block.

From create to practice to crumb supplies

This side was a little better, but the binding crept too far into the blocks. But in a crumb quilt they will look like they belong.

From create to practice to crumb supplies

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