Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wabi-Sabi 2016

Each year, or at least for the past several in which I have been quilt making, I tinker with a design element, or a design theme. I like to, if possible use it frequently and in different situations. I have toyed with metallic threads, inset seams, nano particle fabric and doing important things to binding. Sometimes juggling all design concepts in a single composition.
inset seaming with nano particle material
Metallic thread used for some quilting
retroreflective insert extends into binding

I confess to having picked-out stitching, redone piecing and ripped out and replaced whole portions of quilts to make them "perfect" (to me).

hand quilted binding (Dark Shadows)

Metallic thread quilted double-sided binding (Binary)
 But after a series of rather revealing life events centering around homeownership, cars and health, teenagers and older parents, I have learned a few new things about myself (old horse, new tricks).

Most importantly, there are just some things I can do NOTHING about. I cannot repair the roof on my house, or the dent in my car. We all age, despite the media hype that 50 is the new 30. Most of us become empty nesters, at least for a while and if we are lucky to have had parents in our lives for all of our lives, then they do get old and eventually need our help. When all of these things happen at about the same time it's overwhelming. Having coping skills that involve creating is imperative.

To kick off the new year,   I got a book by Marie Kondo. "The life-changing magic of tidying up". And since I did need a little magic in my life, I read her book, cover to cover. I will confess to not dealing with every stitch of clothing in one event, but I have made at least 6 trips to Goodwill with carfuls of stuff. It feels good. I found some things that I had thought lost. One of her essential tenants is holding each item you own and deciding if it brings you joy. Answer Yes and you keep the item, anything else goes. A bit drastic I know, but for me, it was a journey with another profound discovery.

Wabi-Sabi: "the art of finding beauty in imperfection…to see the singular beauty in something that at first does not appear obviously beautiful. Bringing wabi-sabi into ones life doesn't require money or even special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are. It depends on the ability to slow down, shifting balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting".

"Once quiet you can appreciate the minute detail that gives something character, you have permission to look but also touch. And in the process of connection, you don't have to understand why you are drawn to something, but you do have to accept it as it is. Wabi-Sabi is a state of mind and a way of being. It is the subtle art of being at peace with yourself and your surroundings".

I'm still in the process of sorting and de-cluttering, general tidying-up and most importantly, being at peace,  but I'm moving forward. I have brought some of this centering into my creating too. I have expanded my creative space to include virtual inspiration from many friends and acquaintances on social media. My 2016 already includes collaborative work and trades with several friends. I will continue to ask and accept creative comments via social media and from my guild. I'm teaching 12 college engineers/scientists to be quilters. We have met twice already and cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have new quilters in the making and in my life.

 I will, in the spirit of life-changing events and collaboration, gift several projects this year. If I can keep myself organized I will tag these collaborative endeavors as #colabquiltproject.  I have already begun by sending a small mini quilt to a thoughtful IG follower.

Mini quilt- Gifted
Black batting accentuates the seaming which is a nod shadowing. It happens and I'm OK with it.
Machine and hand quilted
Back, pieced

 I will have a larger quilt to give away at years end. It's all good, really good. Most of my day to day ramblings and posting occur over on Instagram. I hail by the same name, spontaneousthreads.

This year it's all about the process. A hands-on, celebration of  letting go. About making mistakes and accepting them for what they really are, growth, discovery and sometimes if I'm lucky, hidden beauty……….. and realizing at the end of the day, I am OK with all of that.


  1. I like wabi sabi for the quilting, sort of like modern industrial. Sounds like you are finding your peace in the crazy world, a great focus for this year.

  2. I keep re-reading the definition of wabi sabi that you present. I cannot seam to formulate any articulate response other than, I want to keep re-reading the definition and integrating what it says. Being. Thank you, and I hope the journey of this year for you brings much beauty, peace, and joy along the way.

  3. I keep seeing people mention that book, and I think I might be ready to welcome it into my life. I love the idea of wabi-sabi in quilting. I feel like I spend so much time being upset about the things I make because they don't match the vision in my head, but it'd be a lot nicer to learn to accept them for what they are. The photos of the class you're teaching looks fantastic and makes me strongly wish I lived closer!

  4. I really enjoyed this post....lots of food for thought.

  5. Thought-provoking, yes. I hope for comfort and calm for you, no matter what life throws your way...

  6. Thank you, Stephanie, for a very thought provoking blog entry. I follow you and your work on IG and your blog. You and your work are inspirational to me. You also challenge me to take a good look at my own endeavors and purpose in this craft.

  7. That book is on my list to read, too. I usually start the year by getting rid of 100 things, and I think the book will be a good next step. I'm glad to hear you liked it!

  8. Thank you for this thoughtful post. My own life could use some decluttering

  9. Thank you for this thoughtful post. My own life could use some decluttering

  10. I have followed you on IG for a while, but today I thought I would take a look at your blog...must be meant that the first post of yours I read is about excepting what we can not change, dealing with aging parents, and de-cluttering. All these same thoughts have hit me hard & are going around in my it an age that we have reached that these subjects seem to fill our lives?
    My dear MIL, aged 90 has just gone to re-hab after 2 weeks in hard to see those we love & who have been so independent become frail & dependent. And nearly all of my women friends are de-cluttering...are we getting ready to downsize from our big family homes or does that act allow us to feel more in control of our lives?
    Wishing you many moments of hidden beauty & all the best to your MIL.

  11. Such a great post! It gives me much food for thought! You and your work inspire me and so many-thank you!

  12. Fascinating post. I am interested in the way you merged the ideas in her book with the need for acceptance of those things that occur during the creative process. I love the feeling of decluttering and need to do this almost daily to keep it under control ( of course, I don't...).

  13. I love this idea! Wabi sabi is such a great reminder to let go and let the creative process happen (and heal). I need that reminder more often in my life. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post. I'll definitely be following your journey.


If you don't speak up, I won't know what's in your mind…….