Scraps cut into shapes.

Tom Scissorhands After what looked like an outtake from Edward Scissorhands, I have finally finished cutting all the excess fabric away. (You know the part where he’s cutting the dog’s hair?) Yep, that’s pretty much the same scenario that was going on here. Well, it’s the same—but different.

Just imagine  . . . me sitting here in a tight black leather outfit, hair askew, safety pins everywhere (Stuck in me and in my clothes—I don’t need the safety pins for any reason, but they are very stylish—and I am a blogger.) As I sit feverishly working on my little pile of scraps, bits and pieces of fabric are swirling all around me, swirling faster and faster with each little snip.

Like Edward, I am oblivious to this. I continue to cut, and cut . . . and cut . . . and cut . . . and cut some more, until all the pieces are done. This frenzy of cutting and swirling culminates into an amazing tornado of colorful specialness. (Gee, you have such a great imagination. I’m so proud of you.) Now I need to clean up this mess and take out some of these safety pins. Can you say . . . ouch?

Tom And The Fellowship of the Scraps I am now in possession of hundreds and hundreds of magical little bits and pieces of fabric. Some pieces were so small that most of you would never have considered saving them in the first place . . . but I have . . . and I did . . . You see, they are precious to me. They are MY PRECIOUS!! (Oh, sorry about that, channeling Gollum.)

Tom, I Shrunk The Scraps Happy, Happy . . .  Joy, Joy. I love this part of the process for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because after you have cut away the excess, you are left with a much smaller amount of fabric to deal with.

Because the remaining scraps are paper-backed, they are much easier to manage and store. What used to take two shoebox-sized containers to control, now barely fills a quarter of one. The second, and most important benefit is that I now have pieces I can actually use, instead of a pile of stuff I don’t want to mess with. This is the end of one process, but it’s the beginning of another. Now it’s time to explore and experiment. How sweet is that?

Tomanji I could have used the word play, instead of experiment, but the word play doesn’t work for me as a creative approach. For me, playing lacks intent and focus. I need a goal—a problem to solve. I need to have something to work towards. Playing for me is far too random, and I don’t do well with that concept. I feel working within a set of guidelines pushes me to be more creative. When the possibilities are endless, it’s hard to find a place to begin.

When I started working on this piece, I had no preconceived vision in mind. With this project, I only had one goal—showcasing my leftover scraps. With that goal in mind, I set up a few guidelines to help move the project along. This approach to problem solving allows me to be open to everything, but it still provides me with a way to move the project forward. I knew somewhere along the way a vision would appear.

Tom: Aged To Imperfection Here are the guidelines I established when I started this project:

1. Use the scrap as-is, whenever possible.

2. If you need to cut a scrap to make it more interesting,  cut it as little as possible.

3. Use only what you have on hand, no new fusing allowed.

4. Do not stress over anything.

5. If you draw something, cut it out as-is, not finessing the shape.

6. If you must finesse a shape, use scissors. Do not redraw.

7. Work fast, no second-guessing.

8. Worry about the details later.

The Chronicles of Tom Once I decided that I could live within these guidelines, I started cutting . . . and cutting . . . and cutting again. These guidelines are much looser than what I do on most quilts, but that’s what makes this quilt so interesting to me. I had no idea what I was going to end up with until I finished.

This new round of cutting took a bit of time, but it was much faster than the first round. When I sat and looked at all of my newly cut pieces, I started to get really excited. This extra effort was SO worth it. Here’s a sampling to help keep you interested. Aren’t they fun?

Leftover scrap examples

An assortment of fused shapes just waiting to be used.

Tom’s Labyrinth Now that everything has been cut into usable shapes, my journey continues. We can stop here and rest for a bit, if you’d like. I know you must be tired.

Yes, I’m sure. We can rest as long as you need.—You’re very special—I’m happy to wait. (Pretend I’m whistling. That’s what I do—because I can’t actually whistle. It’s sad, but true.)

Well, come on . . . the next post is right around the corner . . .


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8 Responses to “Scrapaliciousness”

  1. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, Your continuing story of ‘scraps’ is fascinating….and I will be anxious to see what you do with them. I KNOW I won’t be disappointed. We will miss you this weekend at AWOL….bet there’s some chat about your new blog. You have fun! pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Thanks for following me. I am getting closer and closer to showing the project. Some days I want to just show it to everyone! I’m very excited about how it’s turning out, and I’m not even a third of the way through.

      I just want to make sure that everyone understands the little steps I went through to get this far. That way they will be able to more easily identify the elements in the design. This project is full of twists and turns, so hang on.

      I know you will have a wonderful weekend. Be safe. Share stories when you return!

  2. jayardi Says:

    • • • I’m here, had to steal, strike that, BORROW a computer to do it too. Mine’s seriously acting up. {grrrrr}

    Tom, I love your subtitles and references. I bet it all just rolls off your fingers. It would take me all night to come up with something that isn’t even an inch as good as yours.

    Can’t wait to see and read what you’ll do next.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      You are too funny. I’m glad you are enjoying my sense of humor. Stay tuned. There is so much more to see.

      I still need your address. I still have MDA Quilt Raffle tickets to buy.

  3. Gari Says:

    Mmmmmm! Your assortment shapes have GREAT potential!! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Thank Gari. The shapes a pretty random and rough. I only showed a few of the basic ones to whet your appetite. I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps with you.

  4. Angela Says:

    I am sincerely enjoying this tour of your creative process. I am very excited each time I see there is another installment. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Angela, I’m glad you are enjoying it. There are many more installments to come. I tend to make very involved challenges for myself, if you haven’t already noticed. Thanks for following me on my journey.

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