At this early stage in my artistic career, I'm often inspired by other artists and creatives who are doing their thing, especially while balancing the challenges of parenthood. I want to highlight some of them here and learn more about what inspires them and how they make it all work.
I have a very special artist to share with you today…my mom! Ever since I can remember, fabric, sewing and quilts have been part of my mom's life. In fact, my brother and I spent LOTS of time hanging out in fabric shops when we were kids. As I wrote in my about section, my mom is my creative inspiration. Beyond that, she's an amazing mom, and now grandma. And thanks to her, my house is filled with custom quilts, pillows, placemats…it's impossible to look around in my house without seeing her stuff.
You can follow my mom at her blog, Hyacinth Quilt Designs and see her books on Amazon (search for Cindy Lammon)!
Tell us first a bit about you and what you do.
I'm a wife, Mom and now a Grandma! My best (and most challenging) work has been to raise two awesome kids (Andrea being one of them!). I'm also like to make pretty things. I grew up in a family where we made things. We made our clothes, slipcovered our sofas, grew our food, stitched our art, crocheted our covers, built our houses and our furniture (My dad did that!) We made things because we had to financially, but also because we kinda liked it!
I'm interested in doing just about every creative craft out there, including photography, but my absolute favorite by far is quilting. I've been sewing since I can remember. My mother sewed a lot, out of necessity. My grandmother sewed a lot, out of love for the art. I can sew just about anything, but quilting is my passion.
When and how did you discover this outlet?
Although both my grandmother and my mother sewed, I never saw either of them make a quilt. My mother had some quilting magazines and during the Summer after my senior year of high school, I chose a pattern and tried to make a quilt using some of the leftover fabric scraps we had. The pattern was a Double Wedding Ring and if you're familiar with quilt patterns, you probably know it is one of the most difficult patterns to make. Needless to say it was a disaster. I took it with me to college, but never even tried to finish it.
When Andrea was a year old, I went to a local shop to get some cross-stitch supplies. The shop was also a quilt shop and I fell head-over-heals in love with the quilts they were making. They offered classes and I jumped at the chance to get out of the house once a week and take the 6-week Sampler Quilt class. I've been making quilts ever since. That was 34 years ago!
What has your art meant to your life and to your family?
Quilting has brought so much to my life. As much as I enjoy the process, quilting has brought amazing people into my life. It's so crazy that most of my friends now are quilters and to find people that share your passion is truly a gift. We have monthly guild meetings, go on several four-day retreats per year and attend wonderful quilt show/conventions. I also get together monthly with a small group of friends to hand-stitch and chat. Believe me, there's more chatting than stitching.
I've also spent the last 20 years teaching quilting both out of town and in our local area. I've taught many people to quilt and it's an indescribable feeling to see that spark in their eyes and to know you had something to do with it!
In 2007 I had my first book published with a major publisher in the industry. I've gone on to publish 3 additional books and I'm really not sure why it is so fulfilling. Writing a book and making all the quilts is a ton of work and the financial gain will not make you a millionaire, but there is something very validating about putting your work out there and someone saying "yes, we like this!" It also makes your family take notice that maybe, just maybe, you have some talent.
For my family, I'll say they've never been cold. There's always a quilt nearby to snuggle with! Kidding aside, I'm very thankful that I have a gem of a husband who has put up with not only the cost of all that fabric and equipment, but always allowed me the time I needed to do my creative work.
How do you manage your time and energy? How do you make your art a priority?
Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, with no stay-at-home kids, my time is my own. But even when the kids were little, I made it a priority to sew just about every day. Nap time was my sew time and even if there were household chores that needed to be done, they were put off. I still sew almost every day. I'm a person of routines, and it's part of my daily routine, just like eating lunch.
What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome those struggles?
One of my biggest struggles was sending in a book proposal. I had to be prepared for rejection. It took some self-talk and I went through a process of trying to imagine what it would feel like if they turned me down. That helped me realize I'd be okay, no matter what happened.
I also struggle with having my own voice or style. There are some amazing quilt designs out there and it's so tempting to just copy what someone else is doing. But that is never fulfilling to me. I always have to try my own thing - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it's mine. I love when people tell me "oh, that looks like a 'Cindy' quilt!"
I have wondered over the years if I'm doing something worthwhile. While quilts can bring comfort to someone, I've wondered if that's enough? When you're doing something you love and it doesn't feel like work, maybe you're taking the easy way out? But then I think about all the people I've taught, all the people I've inspired, those I've donated quilts to and the friends I've made. Remember the movie "A Wonderful Life"? I try to remind myself that the little things we do have a huge influence beyond our knowing. Maybe someone I've taught to quilt has made a quilt to comfort another who is struggling. Maybe making one of the patterns in my book was a happy distraction for someone going through a difficult time. I now believe, if I do what's in my heart, it can only ripple out into the world for good.
Who or what inspires you?
Fabric, pattern, tiles, rugs, architecture, art - I could go on forever. And especially other quilters and artists. The internet and social media have provided almost too much inspiration. I'll never have time to make all that I'm inspired to make!
What impact does your work have on your children?
They have lots of pretty quilts in their homes! And I hope I'm an example for them that life should be fun. Do what you love!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
These are some of the things I know for sure:
Always be looking for inspiration. Don't be afraid to get inspiration from the outside. Your work will be different just because it comes from you!
There's no substitute for practice. Set yourself up to make it easy to practice.
Done is usually better than perfect. That said if it's easy to fix and it's going to bug you forever - fix it.
Don't point out your mistakes unless you're learning from them. Ever.
Share your work! It's good for you and great for those that get to see it!