Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: Sparks of Creativity

"Julie Silber" 2012
I've been a creative person my whole life, but there were some sparks of creativity in 2012 that even surprised me. The first was quiltmaking. It started around April, when I'd been browsing the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) web site looking for quilts I wanted to buy. I saw some very simple quilts, and thought maybe I could make one, too.

"Escape from Palm Beach" 2012
Up to that point, all of my quilting friends knew me as the guy who "couldn't thread a needle" and that's still very true. But I have an art background, and studied at Rhode Island School of Design, School of Visual Arts in New York, NYU and the International Center of Photography. In school, I was uninhibited about trying new media. Drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking were all part of the curriculum.

I pretended I was doing a project for an art class, and completed my first AAQI quilt called "Escape from Palm Beach" by the next day. It was fun, much more fun than I thought it would be. It was also relaxing. In other ways it was very engaging, maybe even a little addictive. Working with fabric, thread, some batting and a sewing machine was a much more deliberate process than other media such as painting. If there was a way to push the boundaries, I'd find it.

"House of Wonky" 2012
The next quilt would be for the "Small Wonders" Challenge in Sisters. I thought it would be fun to make a small quilt, enter it in the challenge, and surprise my mother who would be visiting from Maine and attending the show. That's when I began to work on "House of Wonky" - an improvisational pieced quilt made mostly with batik fabrics. I wanted it to be oddly shaped, and it was wider on the top than the bottom.

When I submitted the quilt for the challenge, I heard back from Ann Richardson, who was very impressed that I'd made a quilt, and was encouraging me to make something for the inaugural "ManLand" exhibit of men quilters, so I made another quilt called "Marvelette" and entered it in the show. During this time, I was sharing pictures of the quilts on Facebook and my blog, and everyone was very encouraging. Some were even a little surprised.

"Marvelette" 2012
Nobody was more surprised than Mom, especially when we walked up the the "Small Wonders" exhibit to discover my quilt, "House of Wonky" on display with a blue ribbon for Viewer's Choice pinned to it, and a "sold" sign.

Later in the year, I was fortunate to get a spot in the Folk Art Quilting Retreat with Sue Spargo and Gwen Marston in Sisters, when someone from my guild had to drop out shortly before the retreat. There was a workshop with Gwen on the first day, where I worked on my "Wonky Star" top. In the retreat, I worked on a wool flower garden using upcycled vintage stumpwork flowers.

"Wonky Star" 
Another spark of creativity in 2012 was something completely different. It was a photomontage called "Aquarium" that was inspired by a dream. The kaleidoscopic duotone image was created in Photoshop, printed as a large, archival pigment print and displayed in the annual Spooky Show at the Lightbox Photographic gallery in Astoria.

The show was juried for the first time, and I learned it had been highly selective. Out of hundreds of entries, juror Russell Joslin selected just 27 images from an international field of 20 artists. I was one of the only artists from Oregon to get into the show.

Around the holidays, Tim Latimer was making paper snowflakes and posting pictures on his blog. It looked like fun, so I tried it. I liked how they were turning out, so I spent a few hours making more, and I made them into a book for the holidays. When I look back on 2012, I'll remember it as a year when my creativity was reawakened, It was a year full of inspiration, and many people whose encouragement kept me going. 


  1. I can't wait to see what you do in 2013! Have a safe and Happy New Years!

  2. It is fun to see you start making your own quilts! Watch out 2013!

  3. Now you know why so many people are hooked on quilting! Keep up the interesting work.

  4. Congratulations on the spark. 2013 is going to be a great year!

  5. You'be had a great creative year!!! Love your pieces you've been working in! Cheers!! Here's to another creative, happy and healthy year!

  6. Such fun, Bill. You did so much, so well in 2012! Can't wait to see how much fun we all have in 2013! I've started the new year out of my little mini's is up at auction at AAQI and Andrea has already left me a sweet note sharing her love of it. Maybe, someone ought to bid on and buy it for her ;)

  7. I started quilting after seeing the Gee's Bend exhibit. It's not that the quilts were simple, but that they were not...precise. Up untill then the only hand made quilts I'd seen looked like something that could be bought at Macy's. I was literally dizzy at some points looking at the Gee's Bend quilts, I was so overcome at times. It was like a whole wonderful world was sweeping open it's doors and inviting me in.