15 @ 40 // day nine
When it comes to crafting, I love a good theme. Whether it’s the same fabric range over three seperate quilts, or matching my cross stitch to a baby gift, or dressing head to toe in matching yarn projects, or making a rather unnecessary project bag to be sure it is the right colour scheme, there’s something so satisfying about matching sets or linked projects.
Today, we recorded a podcast episode, and talked about group projects and the joy of true belonging in a group freeing us from FOMO, and no longer feeling the need to do every last group project that crosses our radar. Which sounds all very grown up and rational, until I stepped off the call and into today’s blog post, celebrating the group obsession with both rainbows and gnomes.
It started back in December 2021, when we decided along with everything else we committed to, that we would each undertake The 12 Gnomes of Christmas. Famously, my brain read five inches and pictured five centimetres and so I signed up in a hot second…and failed the challenge approximately five minutes after that.
From there, gnomes became the unofficial theme of the chat. We did Valentines gnomes, we share links to knitted gnomes and cricut gnomes and all manner of gnomey cuteness. They are also a go-to in our homeschooling, with the Gnumber Gnomes a mainstay of our maths manipulatives. A rainbow of felt-draped mini gnomes are simply the cutest way to tell stories and teach maths.
When I first dreamed up this project and started brainstorming ideas, I roped in The Minister for some moral support & idea generation. It’s like inputting prompts into ChatGPT, but with more laughs and off the wall outcomes. CarGPT, maybe, if GPT stands for Grand Project Thoughts. At that stage, the concept was just to use 15 materials, rather than the more overlapping style projects I ended up settling on, and I was style trying to fill the last couple of slots on my list. “What about Fimo?” she asked, and on the list it went.
The problem then was what to actually make. I kicked around a few ideas, but nothing really stuck, until I came across Blossom & Clay’s awesome polymer clay quilts on Insta reels. What if I did something like that, I wondered, to tie in the quilting and the clay and the experimenting?
I will confess, I feel something of a self-driven pressure, to have each project fabulous and perfect and idealised as the pinnacle of 15 years of crafting in this space. The attempt at a clay quilt was…not it. The triangles wouldn’t stay triangly. The piece itself shifted as I put it in the oven, with a corner resting up against the edge, giving it a curl after baking, which later shattered before I could photograph it. I grumped and scowled and went back to the drawing board.
Once upon a time, our quilting group used to do a secret Santa, and I made a little Christmas gnome – he even makes an appearance in the 15@40 graphic. What if, thought I, I called back to that project with another gnome, and created a cross stitch background as an echo of all those cross-stitched gnomes? The rainbow would also work well to bring in the temperature cross stitch I started at the beginning of the year.
As I made the little gnome, I also experimented with a different mini-slab idea, dropping little crumbs of rainbow clay onto white and rolled out. I loved the finished piece, and was >< this close to cutting it for some earrings, but just couldn’t decide where the cuts should go, so left it as is. An ode to clay play, maybe.
I will confess I don’t love the gnome. It was fun, however, to spend some time with Miss Butterfly, now 12, and play crafty time and experiment with different ideas and colours and watch her do the same, like we have so many times before. Part of this blogging process has been to show the good, the bad and the failures, the process, the fun, the playfulness. The “what’s the worst that can happen” attitude that has y craft shelves overflowing with every last new shiny rabbit hole I’ve fallen down and promptly abandoned. And maybe that’s where this little gnome is supposed to sit within this series. Not as a pinnacle of long-refined crafting, but as a celebration of “let’s see what happens”. That, my friends, has been as important a part of this journey as any other.
Today’s post is part of my “FIFTEEN AT FORTY” project, a fifteen day, fifteen project, celebration of creative exploration, to mark my fortieth year and my blog fifteenth. The journey so far has been amazing. The creation of the pieces I plan to share with you over the next fifteen days has been a revelation. I am brimming with inspiration and motivation for what is still to come.