Transition Rituals

No matter how great a trip is, there’s generally a point during re-entry that feels like, “Houston, we have a problem.” That’s when rituals come in handy.

Music to unpack by.

When I’m really tired after a teaching trip, the soundtrack from The Wizard of Oz comes out. I hit play, then try to get everything (mostly) put away before “There’s no place like home.”

Machine stitched thank you notes.

Then I might need a little time to do something that feels productive but doesn’t require a brain. Laundry doesn’t count. One thing I do, when time permits, is machine stitch transfers on fabric, inkjet fabric, or fabric collages to stationery for my thank-you notes.

What kind of rituals do you use to get back in studio mode after being away?

Cut That Out Creativity Warm-Up

Part of the value of a creativity ritual is not having to think about the ritual itself. You know what’s expected, and you do it. I can do the Simple Shapes collage warm-up day after day after day and get the desired results. But then, I’m also happy eating peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning.

You might want a bit more variety. So for your benefit (not because I was stalling the other morning), here’s a riff on Simple Shapes I call Cut That Out. You’ll need:

  • a timer
  • a magazine from the recycle bin
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • sketch book

Here’s what you do.

Time. Set the timer for 6 minutes.

Rip. Tear out the first page from the magazine where there’s a large shape with a fairly well defined outline. This sample used the left side of a two-page spread showing a woman in a polka-dot dress.

Cut. Following that outline, cut out the shape.

Hack. Hack toward the center of the shape and cut out a circle (or other simple shape of your choice). Quickly cut the rest of the shape into three pieces.

Rearrange. Working quickly, make as many different arrangements as you can using the circle and the three other pieces deconstructed from the shape you cut out. I find it helps to give myself prompts like, “dancing animal”, “mythical creature” or “alien landscape.” Spend about 5 minutes making different arrangements.

Poodle Polka

Glue. When the timer goes off, glue your final arrangement into your sketch book.

Name it. Give this composition a name or title.

Cheats. Use fewer than the four pieces you cut out, if you like.

Running Basket

Or allow yourself to add one element to complete your final composition.

Derby Day — Headless
Derby Day — With Head

You can even cheat an take a quick digital photo of any arrangement that strikes your fancy (applique design? digital fabric? transfer element?…). But then keep moving the pieces around until the timer goes off.

Remember: The point is not to create the most beautiful composition ever made with four pieces of scrap paper. It’s to see how many compositions you can come up with in a short time. Do it, then move on to your other work, secure in the knowledge that you can play the game again tomorrow.

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Sip Sip Hooray

Saturday’s mail included some good stuff:

This is more than enough reason to get out china teacup. Normally, I’m a teabag-and-mug girl. I might pour the hot water, get engrossed in something, and find my tea stone cold a good long while later. I drink it anyway.

But when I’m feeling celebratory (or want to warn the world not to butt in), I get out the china cup and saucer. I brew a pot of the good stuff, pour it hot hot hot into that delicate vessel, blow on it to cool, and hold my pinkie out while I drink and read.

Saturday I sipped as I savored the SDA conference catalog. The conference will be in Minneapolis, which is practically next door. Some of the pre- and post-conference workshops will be held at The Textile Center, which is one of my favorite places in the world.

I started making plans to go last summer, when class proposals were due for another event scheduled to overlap SDA. I tried to figure out how to be in two states at the same time. My husband listened patiently as I outlined elaborate schemes that could have permanently damaged the space-time continuum. Then he congratulated me on my good sense when decided I could do one or the other but not both. Smart man.

And now, I have the conference book in my hot little hands and planning moves into the reality phase.

Soon, it’ll be time to start watching the mailbox for the catalog from the 2011 Midwest Weavers Conference. I must remember to get more loose earl gray tea.

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