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I always run a class or 2 like this every year.The students never know when its going to happen. Those that have been with me longer, always want to know when I am going to spring that surprise on them.

It is not a good idea for any artist or creator to become set in one's ways and this is a refreshing wake up.

Life throws rags at one, learn to create with them.

When creating I usually work in a planned manner. I either go to my color sorted boxes or decide on a particular color or family of colors and then start choosing fabrics, and that is how I teach as well.

Other times I often challenge myself to just pull out pieces from that scrap pile and find a way to make them work together. Its always interesting to see what one can make with random scraps.

Sometimes when I look at the pile of choices it takes me a few minutes to figure out how to make them work together. I don't cheat! I always use the pieces that I have pulled out.

Whenever I use this technique in a class I always see frustration on the faces of at least one of the students. Some of them, even at a very early age are already really set in their ways and have a very specific set of colors that they are comfortable working with. Others are delighted with the unusual possibilities.

Choosing fabric from the scrap bag
Choosing from the scrap bag

I teach them, that in order to create they don't have to have a stash of organized fabrics, or to purchase specific fabrics, they can use what they have on hand.

Each one of them has a scrap bag at home. I know they do, because each student was gifted the starter packet and a bottle of buttons and beads from me.

Buttons and beads
Buttons and beads

There are no rules in this class. All of the students have enough knowledge of a number of techniques by the time that I do this. So after choosing their fabrics they are told to surprise me.

They also have to work together, some of them haggle over a specific piece of fabric, but they negotiate and find a compromise. I don't interfere, it is interesting to watch them acquiring bargaining skills.

One of the students chose random pieces with a pink and grey theme running through them and created a set of pillows.

Pink and grey pillows
Pink and grey pillows

He chose ALL the blue pieces that he could find in the pile, he has good bargaining skills and convinced them that he really needed them - he also made a deal wiith one of the other students who likes yellows and greens, that he would put them aside for him.

All the blue fabrics
All the blue fabrics

And sewed a backpack.

She took all the greys and taupes that she could find

Greys and taupes
Greys and taupes

And handstitched a bracelet.

Taupe and grey yoyo button bracelet
Taupe and grey yoyo button bracelet

They do surprise me. So many different color choices and so many different products were created from that random scrap pile.

A lesson in - making do with what you have on hand, negotiating and creating.

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