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Tara Faughnan – Embrace Your Creative Mess!

Several years ago, Diana McClun introduced me to a darling young woman she met in a fabric design course. I remember being immediately drawn to her contagious enthusiasm for quiltmaking. She was young, spunky, and oh-so-cute. She was also the perfect helper to have around while we were making a DVD as she kept us smiling when times became a bit too intense or stressful.

I was delighted when Pati suggested asking Tara to write a guest post for us as I knew it would be something fresh with just a touch of humor. As I sit here looking around my own studio today, I can completely relate to her story. Thanks Tara for reminding me/us not to get down on ourselves for being messy creative types.

Now, please enjoy a peek into the life of Tara Faughnan, quiltmaker, pattern and fabric designer. – Laura

Welcome Tara!

Tara Faughnan

I am a quilter and freelance textile designer living in Oakland, CA. I started to quilt around 2002 or so, using a book my mother had given me as my guide. This book was a reprint of the 1931 edition of 101 Patchwork Patterns by Ruby Short McKim.  I had no idea such things as rotary cutters, plastic templates, freezer paper, etc. existed. I spent many happy weeks tracing around cardboard templates and cutting out my fabric pieces with a pair of scissors. When I told a woman at my local quilt shop how my first quilt was going, she promptly took me over to the wall of rulers, cutting mats, and gadgets and told me she was giving me a discount on all the accessories! Thus began a long love affair with my faithful rotary cutter. I still have her, she’s worn down and a bit squeaky, but she fits my hand like we were made for each other.

Last summer, my husband and I bought a house, and I had a real vision for how I wanted to set up my studio space. I dreamed about the colors, the decorations, and how the room would make me feel when I was working in it . . . I wanted clean lines, bright colors, vignettes of pretty decor.  Basically, I had a picture in my head about what kind of space would, in theory, support my creativity (you know what I mean–the kind of studio you see on Pinterest).

Well, we moved in, and I happily started setting up my studio. I unpacked my fabrics, my craft supplies, my books and decorations, and I started to create my space. Three weeks later, I was only partially unpacked and completely distracted by an idea for a quilt that I had to start IMMEDIATELY.  I quickly shoved all of my boxes into closets, pushed everything to the back of my large work table, and then I proceeded to sew. That was October. Fast forward to May, and  seven or eight quilts later, and this is how my studio looks.  Be warned, the following pictures are graphic and may disturb some viewers.

picture #1c

These carefully composed vignettes come only as the result of a fabric-cutting-and-sewing frenzy. And that project where I was going to cover that lovely horse in gold glitter? I had to paint it white first, but then I was struck by another quilt idea before I could finish it . . .  And that lovely thing I was going to do with all those old wooden spools, I got sidetracked (again) by a quilt . . . And I was definitely going to do something with all that gold ribbon, but I’ve forgotten what it was, so if I just keep it right there I might be reminded of it . . .

picture #3

This mess actually looked this five minutes ago.

picture #4

If you look carefully, you will see some of the things I mean to hang on the walls:  a cross stitch sampler my aunt made forty years ago; a piece of vintage ribbon I want to do SOMETHING with; a thingy for hanging textiles that my sister brought me from Thailand. And then there is my grandma’s old candy dish . . . those quilt blocks I pulled off my design wall to make room for something else . . . and oh, those shoes I keep meaning to return to Zappos . . . and that box (I’m not sure what’s in it, but I had to get it out of the way when I needed space for basting a quilt on the floor) . . . and off to the left you can see a slice of my closet and, really, you don’t want to go in there . . .

picture #5

Well, I hope you enjoyed my studio tour! It took a lot of bravery to share these photos. We are so inundated with gorgeous, clean, tidy, and well-designed studios on Pinterest, and really, in theory, that really is how I want my studio to look. In reality, CREATIVITY is MESSY!! And, sometimes, this messiness can lead to wonderful and unexpected things. That pile of scraps in the picture above led to several unplanned and happy color choices when I was working on my last quilt. I was looking for a certain pink color and came up with red. I stuck it into the quilt and LOVED it. The whole direction I was going in changed due to that lovely pile of fabric. Maybe we should start to be proud of the messes we create while pursuing our single-minded focus on quilting. I want to validate the tornado that is my studio! I fling my fabric; I throw my scraps on the floor; I mix up my projects; my cats claim my piles and try to hide my rulers . . . and I guess I like it that way because, really, it never changes. Maybe these pictures will make you cringe, but perhaps they will validate your own personal creative messes!

— Tara Faughnan

Thanks Tara! Now are you wondering what magical things come from her messy creativity? Well, here’s a teaser:

Quiltcon 2015

Quilt in QuiltCon banner is “Fireworks” by Tara Faughnan

On Friday, we will get an opportunity to see some of Tara’s amazing work. You can also visit her website Tara Faughnan to find out more about her. Modern Patchwork Magazine Spring 2014 features Tara’s “Modern Log Cabin Quilt” pattern and more new patterns will be available in upcoming Generation Q and Modern Patchwork Magazine issues in Summer 2014. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

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