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Focus is the key

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that focus is the key.

I find that it is a constant battle to do that. As an artist who is familiar with many techniques I have many ideas racing around in my head.

Taking a walk and window shopping or browsing on pinterest I am inundated with ideas. I can make most of the things that I see and find it very easy to learn new techniques for those that I don't yet know how to do. It is exciting and challenging to do that. But it is basically touching on everything rather than specialising.

I found myself working on about 10 different projects at the same time without any common thread running through them. By common thread I mean a theme, or supplies or even the equipment that I needed to create all those different projects.

The same thing happened when I began teaching sewing and quilting many years ago. I would bring many interesting different ideas to the lessons. At some point it became frustrating for the students as they were not being allowed to develop and specialize and I had to have a huge amount of different equipment and supplies.

Over the years after listening to the feedback I have built a very structured lesson plan and have successfully taught thousands of girls, boys, men and women to sew and quilt.

Why have I not applied the same system to myself.

When I began writing tutorials I created many different ones. It is problematic to work that way. One needs a huge studio with lots of different supplies and equipment.

Last year I sat down and had a rethink. I asked myself what I most enjoy doing. That was quite easy - teaching. Then I asked myself what do I most enjoy creating - that was a bit more difficult. I enjoy creating artquilts, fashion accessories and also sewing certain types of clothing. I have a thing about witches and gothic, dark flora and fauna. So I made a list, marked what I loved, what I liked and what was just ok occassional.

I chose to specialize in what I LOVE to create. For what I just LIKE to do I created lesson plans to teach the students. They get to learn something interesting and I get to work with creating things that I enjoy making. I have stopped creating the ok and just occassional - that is for pinterest viewing.

It sounds like an easy decision. It was not easy. I still find myself saying, oh that looks good I can do that, or that won't take much time. I then stop and ask myself, do I LOVE doing it? Do I NEED to do it? Do I WANT to do ? I normally get my answer after the first question.

At the moment I have a huge living room which I use as my studio so space is at a premium but that will change in the future and I will have to downsize so I have made a decision to start doing that now.

I am being very generous with my students with fabric and buttons and beads.

Some of the samples that I make when creating tutorials will be exhibited at some point and many of the others are gifted.

I have also decided to create in an industrial line mode of work. Downscaling my products as I work.

What I have on my tables for tutorials at the moment are in this order:

A black ruffled duster

Black and grey "fabric painted" artquilt

Black and grey fungi soft sculpture

A witch art doll

Black and grey fabric beads

Besides for the duster which is the first tutorial in the line, all the others are made of remnants from the duster and other grey and black pieces from previous products.

I am structuring my creation to work in the same colors till the products are done.

This is more practical for a number of reasons. I use the same equipment for all of them. The sewing machines are threaded with the same colored thread. My supplies come from the same color coordinated boxes and this time the mood and look are the same - Graveyard, Gothic and Bewitched.

Black button down shirts
Black button down shirts

Base shirt for the duster
Base shirt for the duster

Yoyos for fungi
Yoyos for fungi

Fabric scraps for beads
Fabric scraps for beads

Fabric "paint"
Fabric "paint"

Black paint bottle
Black paint bottle

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That sounds like a good way to approach things. I tend to hop from one thing to another too, as there's so much out there to inspire a new project. I like the idea of delving into one thing deeply until you've satisfied yourself that it's done and you're ready to move on to the next set of colours and skills.

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