Maybe you're not into sewing. Or polyfill or fabric. (Although I'm not really sure how we managed to become friends.) So here's something different for you: pottery painting.
In DC there are a few places where you can do this, such as All Fired Up, and Color Me Mine. They're always full of kids and families, which is fun to see. But there are also plenty of adults - couples and groups of friends of various ages. I like to go at night - it's quiet, and you can concentrate. Over a year ago I went with some friends and started this bowl.
I got a little waylaid, and eventually finished it a few months later. That's the great thing about these pottery painting stores - you can go back as often as you want, and take as long as you want. You pay up front, and after you turn it in to them, it takes a week to be glazed, fired, and ready for you.
The more layers of paint you put on, the more opaque it looks, and I definitely prefer this - I'm not a huge fan of streaks.
On the bottom are my initials and the date, etched with the end of a paperclip - they have a wide variety of tools to use to make varying effects.
I used a stencil from the store for this tropical flower, but altered it quite a bit. It's off-center and the stem starts from the the curve in the bowl, so I think it has some movement to it. I like that it's fairly minimalist, and the colors are very complementary. I especially love green and blue together. The flower's petals are slightly raised in some places, simply because I kept touching up little bits, not satisfied with the outer border of each orange piece.
Another piece I put a lot of work into last year was a large serving plate, done in stripes:
I used masking tape to make the lines accurate (it's ridiculous how much of a perfectionist I am), and made stripes of random widths, doing one color at a time. I left parts of it unpainted, so the natural white color of the clay could show through. Because the plate curves up towards the edges, it gives the appearance that the lines are curved, depending on where you are standing.
I also etched a simple loop-de-loop on the light yellow strips, again using the end of a paper clip. Really you can only see the design if you are up close - which is nice, it's a little surprise.
I really like how the two goldy (goldey? goldie?) yellows, greeny blues, and purply blues coordinate. And I enjoy the random placement of the stripes.
As with the bowl, I used a wet sponge to clean the edge. It creates a clear separation between the front and back glaze, and adds another design feature.
On the underside, I used a blue and a yellow from the front, and a really pretty dark gray.
I use this plate and bowl a lot for serving food. They are supposedly microwave and dishwasher safe, but I'm not taking any chances, so it's careful hand washing every time. They were inexpensive, and definitely have more meaning than something bought from the store. I can't say enough about how relaxing this whole activity is, I totally recommend it.
Both these pieces were fairly minimalist, with plenty of solid coloring. I like it, but I'd also like to deviate from that in the future, and try more complex hand drawn designs and techniques. I'd like to try a technique I saw in one of the store examples - you paint a design in various colors, then cover it all in black. You then use different tools to remove parts of the black, to reveal the color underneath. I remember doing something similar in elementary school art class - we drew in color with crayons, and then painted over it with black paint. The wax resisted the paint, so that the color showed through. Different technique, similar effect. I'm also dreaming of taking a class someday to relearn how throw clay on the wheel, and then paint it.
A few months ago I started a mug, and really only got as far as painting the whole thing plum purple. It's been sitting, wrapped up in paper, waiting for inspiration to strike. I'll share with you how it turns out...