Do You Dare Take a Fiber Art or Mixed-Media Challenge?

fabric art samples
Samples from the Cloth Paper Scissors fabric swap. Quilting Arts is doing one, too!

cate pratoSince taking over the bloggership of Cloth Paper Scissors Today six months ago, I've had to challenge myself.

Challenge myself to make art with materials or techniques I never thought I would try. And to put my "art" out there for all of you to see. And judge.

Eeek.

But, you know, that's what's so great about a challenge. It makes you try new things. It pushes you beyond the limits of your comfort zone. Sometimes you find a new passion (I'm talking to you, encaustic), sometimes you get props just for trying (cough-jewelry-making-cough). Sometimes a challenge brings you back to the art you're used to doing, but adds a new dimension.

That's what I love about the reader challenges put forth in Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts Magazine. So many people who enter them write that this is their first attempt at putting their art "out there" for anyone else to see. Or they say they've always wanted to try a particular technique or work with a certain theme, and the challenge gave them just the prompting they needed. It helps, I'm sure, that reader challenges come with a deadline! I know I'd never get anything done without one.

What's really fun is when readers of one magazine try a challenge from the other. There is a lot of overlap between mixed-media and collage art and contemporary art quilting, so it makes sense. But you can tell from the comments these readers make that they feel they are being extra daring by departing from their known territory.

quilting arts calendar judges' choice
Betsy Brandt-Kreutz puts her cat on a pedestal. QA calendar contest
Judges' Choice selection.

It was interesting to see the fabric samples from fiber art aficionados who participated in the Cloth Paper Scissors Fabric Swap. You couldn't tell who was an art quilter and who was a mixed-media artist. Now, Quilting Arts is hosting its own fabric swap, and you can get in on the fiber fun; the deadline isn't until November.

The deadline for the Pet Peeve challenge has just passed, but the results will be in the December/January issue of Quilting Arts (I can't wait to see that!) along with the Judges' Choice quilts from the "Getting Pet-ty" 2012 Calendar Contest. Of course, you don't need a formal reader challenge to try out techniques and tools that are new to you. Pick up any issue of Quilting Arts and you'll find tutorials on surface design, fabric collage, and stitch that you can apply to your own brand of art.

You can test out these techniques in the privacy of your own studio. You don't have to show anyone.

But I urge you to challenge yourself by venturing into the art quilting and fiber art world of Quilting Arts if you haven't already. Sign up for a subscription, and you'll get prompted to try new things six times a year, plus, you'll be the first to hear about all the reader challenges and contest.

Then your challenge will be finding time to create with all the new techniques you've learned.

P.S. Have you challenged yourself with a new technique, product, or process lately? What was it? How did it come out and what did you learn? Share with the class below!

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