Thursday, May 28, 2009


I missed last week's theme of how-to, so I thought I'd revisit it today. But how to do what exactly? Well, I'm a quilter so I could tell you how to make a quilt. Here's how: Cut up a bunch of fabric into triangles and sew it back together. That's one answer. But a lot of quilters never do that. They might cut shapes and applique them onto a background. Another will take a single piece of fabric and quilt it, adding texture and design only with their needle and thread. Others fuse fabric, sealing it down with layers of machine quilting. Some burn the fabric's edges or use Tyvek or beads on their quilts. Some experiment with dye, bleach or resist or all three. Quilting comes in many shapes and forms. The only thing they have in common is that a quilt has three layers, a top, some kind of batting and a backing and is held together with stitches. Usually.

How to stamp, then. But the question is stamp what? A card? A piece of fabric? A collage? Stamping, like sewing, is basically easy. Just push your stamp on the ink pad and press on your paper. But some people like to start with their own image and cut their own stamps. Others use store bought, take classes and make patterns from books. How about vegetable stamping? Half a cabbage makes a wonderful image. The variations on a theme are endless.

Okay, I'm a writer. Here's how-to write. Sit down at the computer and start putting words on a page. Or put pen to paper. But that only begins to describe the writing process. Every book I've written has had a different process. Right now, I'm writing by hand on a yellow legal pad with a uniball pen. That's the way Laurie R King started, Andre Dubus III does and our own Betty Hechtman. Works for me.

How-to depends. It depends on what you want to do and how you want to get there. It depends on your needs and comfort levels. The most important part of how to is do.


Sheila Connolly said...

When I was in high school, in our required "Speech" class (i.e., public speaking), we were all assigned to give a five-minute talk on how to do something. Anything you wanted--free choice. It was an interesting experience for most of us, and nobody died of embarrassment. As I recall, I gave a presentation on how to paint a watercolor (in five minutes?). One of the guys explained how a beer can is made. I think we all learned something from the assignment--not least, how to get to the essentials of a task. And note--I still remember the beer can part.

Terri Thayer said...

I did this in college speech. As a night adult student, I decided to do how to laundry. I'm sure the 18 years old in the audience loved it when I separated lights from darks!

beckylevine said...

I'm off today to volunteer at son's school--8th grade power-point presentations. Like those old research papers we had to do, but with visuals. And, yes, those kids can pick ANYTHING they want. I did my research papers on fairies. A kid I know today will present on sword dancing. How to pick what you're doing, how to get all the material together, how to start creating the presentation. This post is reminding me that any method works, as long as you DO it! Thanks, Terri!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I love the process of creation, Terri--and everybody approaches it differently. It's also fun to consider how the same person approaches multiple kinds of creativity differently!