Archive for July, 2008

Haiku – Making More Pots (Part 2)

One Day

This is Part 2 of two posts about writing haiku. Did you miss Part 1 on Monday? It’s here.

Why write haiku if you are a visual artist? Writing haiku uses the art-making skills of looking, seeing, focusing and making statements about big things (life, death, beauty) using very little material. It’s a great way to start your day in a relaxed and focused way.

So, onward we go. OK, you have your notebook and your pen Have you found your haiku spot?

Haiku are traditionally based in nature, but you can write haiku about anything. You should pick one spot and return to it for at least a week. Return even longer and you will be challenging yourself even more.

1. For this first haiku, pick one thing from your spot. Say to yourself, “I will write a haiku about this rock, this chair, this tree.”

2. Don’t wear or look at a watch, but say to yourself, “I have 30 seconds.” Or choose one minute or whatever space of time gives some urgency to the task, but doesn’t cause you to be in a panic.

You want a finite amount of time to write down all the descriptive words you can about the the item you chose.

You will learn over time what type of words work best. But for this first time, ask yourself, “What do I see?” Write down concrete words – green, needles, pinecones, swirling.

Then ask, “What do I hear? ” Trill, whistle, car. When you write down car – stop! Is it a sound? No. Is the car chugging, grinding, purring? Those are the specific, descriptive words you want to write down.

Continue through the five senses: What does the tree feel like? Its needles? Its bark? Would it be safe to taste your item? Or can you imagine what it might taste like? If I’m looking at a pine tree, I might think of a ship’s mast made from it and think, salty. What does the tree smell like besides pine-y? Is it sharp, lemony, woodsy, dark?

Work your way down the five senses, but mostly concentrate on writing many words and writing quickly. Be specific, be descriptive. You want a lot of words on your piece of paper.

3. Now choose nine words from your list that seem to catch the essence of your subject. Write those down, arranging them in three lines. if you have had enough excitement for the day, hey, you have written a poem. Go for a haiku tomorrow. Continue on to Step 4 if you are ready to finish a haiku today.

4. Now count the syllables. If counting syllables gives you fits, have a dictionary handy and use it this first time to check the number of syllables. Write down next to each line the syllables it contains.

How many syllables do you have? Seventeen? You have written a haiku – Congratulations! Not seventeen? Here is where it really becomes fun.

Perhaps your list has words with only one or two syllables. You will need to add more words to your haiku from your list to reach seventeen syllables. You may want to choose twelve words to begin with from now on.

Too many syllables? What can you cut? Do you need to make a substitution from your list of words? Does adding an -ing to a verb help? You shouldn’t have any of the little words, “the”, “an”, “a”, in your haiku, but perhaps you need to add them now.

It’s your haiku, so do what you need to do to make it right.

Does your haiku capture a feeling, a moment, a particular thing in a particular place?

I used this method of pre-writing for quite some time and I have taught kids to write haiku using it. It’s a place to begin, a place to start your pen writing and your eyes and other senses working. After a time, you will be able to do this in your head and in your rough drafts. I write all my haiku on the right-hand page of a two-page spread and use the facing left-hand page for revisions.

Now that you have written one haiku, can you write another from your list of words? If so, great! If not, no worries. You have learned what types of words would be more helpful. Come back tomorrow to your spot, choose an object, make another list of words and write more haiku.

Wren, so tiny, so quick,
Jumps on a chair.
Nervous, curious, fearless.

Feel free to share your haiku in a comment. Remember, we are not making THE perfect pot, we are making lots and lots of pots.


07 2008

Inspiration and a note for newsletter editors


Oriental lilies! Short-lived, but such exuberance. It is so seldom that you take a photo and there is nothing needed in Photoshop. I held this bloom up against my front door on the way in from the garden.

A note for newsletter editors: I happily had my blogpost on working in a series reprinted in the current issue of Contemporary Quilt, the newsletter of Contemporary Quilt Special Interest Group of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles. Thank you to Irene MacWilliam for contacting me and making all the arrangements. It’s a great newsletter; I learned I need a Bernina foot #2.

If you are the editor of a fiber newsletter and would like to reprint an essay, technique talk, book review or any other item from my blog, send me a note. There’s no charge, but I do ask that you:
1. Ask.
2. Credit me and include links to my website and blog.
3. Print it one time only.

Of course, there’s a new post today on The Garbage Day Report. It’s an inadvertent self-portrait.


07 2008

See my artwork at International Quilt Festival – Long Beach tomorrow

Then and Now

The inaugural International Quilt Festival – Long Beach will take place at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center July 25 – 27.

Two Studio Art Quilt Associate exhibits will be hung back-to-back. Then and Now, seen above, was juried in to Creative Force by Rebecca A. Stevens, curator at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC. You can’t miss this artwork as it is 104″ long.

A Sense of Place is an invitational exhibit curated by Peg Keeney featuring three small works created in series by 16 artists. Landscape is the focus of this exhibit and three of my Boundary Waters series, including Boundary Waters 22 (below) are included.



07 2008

Juror Jason Pollen chooses Boundary Waters 9

Boundary Waters 9

Boundary Waters 9 will be shown at Threadlines at the Missouri State University Art & Design Gallery, September 5 – 29.

The exhibition was juried by Jason Pollen, Professor and Chairman of the fiber department at Kansas City Art Institute. Pollen is also President of the Surface Design Association. A separate exhibit at the gallery will feature Pollen’s work in conjunction with the ThreadLines 2008 exhibit.

The exhibit is sponsored by Uncommon Threads.

For more information about the ThreadLines exhibition, click here.


07 2008

Inspiration and The Garbage Day Report


I had a field day in big open yard full of unused Coast Guard equipment. This is part of a giant navigation buoy.

Of course, a new post is up today in The Garbage Day Project.


07 2008