New Ideas for Summer Creating


The dog days of summer… sigh. Though that may have a negative connotation for some, to me it means longer days and more time to accomplish some creative projects that were put on hold earlier in the year. But how do you fit it in with all of the other fun things you have lined up this summer?


Julie and Pokey on the set of “Quilting Arts TV.”

I asked Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, a frequent contributor to Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts, and recent guest on “Quilting Arts TV,” for some tips for making art during the summer months and here’s what she suggested:

Julie’s Summer Art Tips

1. Take it with you.

Summer is so often about travel. Don’t let all that travel kill your mojo. While it’s usually impossible to take your studio with you, you can take a small project along for the ride. I like to bag or box up a project that includes hand stitching or beading and pop it into my carry-on luggage. I have found that while making art on an airplane or train people often ask me where they can purchase my work. Or they want to have long chats about their own artistic passions. And that always makes the ride go faster. Plus, I always think that a project made on the go keeps some of the good energy from that vacation and helps me hold on to the memories. I have quilt squares stitched in the Galapagos Islands, necklaces made while flying to Cleveland, and ATCs (artist trading cards) from a delayed flight to Los Angeles.

2. Get together with friends.

Casual Fridays and corporations on summer vacation mean that lots of my artist friends with day jobs are more free to play. There are few things more motivating than getting an excited group of creators together and checking out what everyone has been making. It’s an art party!

3. Try swapping supplies.

Just like April showers lead to May flowers, spring cleaning leads to summer trades for me. Not only does this allow me to clean up my studio and get rid of the stuff that’s not working for me anymore and send it to a good home in the process, but it inspires me with a whole new boxful of goodies. Some of my favorite pieces of art were made from things that I never would have bought or found myself, but that were given to me by someone else. And remember, even if you don’t have artist friends around you where you live, you can still participate in a swap through the mail. Priority Mail flat rate boxes are great tools for swapping with online or far-away friends. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

4. Work in bursts.

We live in the middle of Times Square so our apartment is a popular destination for friends and family in the summer. Having houseguests means that locking myself in my studio for six or ten hours isn’t possible. I used to laugh when people said, “work in bursts.” But as long as you have a dedicated space and can keep your supplies and project out and in the ready position, it really does work. Having everything out allows me to excuse myself briefly and spend 15 minutes with a paintbrush in my hand. It’s amazing how wonderfully ripe a project can become when you create in layers over a period of days.

5. Go to a museum…briefly.

Museums have the same delicious air conditioning that the movie theater has. Why not skip the popcorn and find some visual inspiration instead? I don’t ever feel the need to see everything in a museum. An hour of wandering or staring leaves me brimming with ideas. Two or more hours and I just want to sit down on the couch and get away from all the tourists! Even if you don’t have a local museum, you may have an art gallery, or a sculpture park, or something else inspiring nearby. And worst case, most major museums have gorgeous websites filled with images from their collection. You can always let your fingers do the walking.

QA TV 600If these tips get you yearning for some new projects, take a look at Quilting Arts TV Series 600. Julie Fei-Fan Balzer offers some exciting techniques for summer fun. And you won’t want to miss Kathy Mack, Liz Kettle, Jane Dunnewold, Mary Hettmansperger, Terry Grant, or the other great artists in this new 600 Series. There are so many projects, by a variety of wonderful artists, you’ll have trouble deciding where to start.

You’ll just have to get it and enjoy it one of these wonderful, long, summer days.


Happy creating.




P.S. And don’t forget, you can see many of these artists at Create, too, August 25–29, 2010. Hope to see you there!





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