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How to Become an Artist in 100 Days

Kate Miller

On April 2, 2019, I accidentally set out to become an artist. Like the bona fide millennial I am, I took on an Instagram challenge called #THE100DAYPROJECT to work on something creative every day for one hundred days, document the progress, and share it on social media.

Challenge founder Michael Bierut began this exercise with his graduate graphic design students in 2010, encouraging projects in any medium, but ones suited for repeated, daily action, and sustainable for the one hundred day duration. It has since flourished on social media for the purpose of recording and presenting projects, and also giving participants who often work alone a sense of fellowship. Bierut considers it a vocational exercise: “I've always had a fascination with the ways that creative people balance inspiration and discipline in their working lives. It's easy to be energized when you're in the grip of a big idea. But what do you do when you don't have anything to work with? Just stay in bed?”

#THE100DAYPROJECT got me out of bed every day. It gave me the permission I needed to start a creative project I’d always wanted to try: For years I have saved the old, worn-out clothing that my family no longer wears, with the intention to make quilts from them. The problem was that I had never quilted before and did not own the tools of the trade. My fabric choice is unconventional, and hand-sewing bed-sized quilts is time-consuming and outmoded. Was I out of my depth in a skilled craft tradition, or was I making something too practical to be art? As a textile amateur, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I was sure that one hundred days of practice would be grounds for my formation.

#THE100DAYPROJECT got me out of bed every day. It gave me the permission I needed to start a creative project I’d always wanted to try.

On July 11, 2019, I had completed my #100DAYSOFEPP project: Using English Paper Piecing, a patchwork technique where fabric is first stabilized by cardstock and then sewn together, I made enough motifs for a quilt top. On Day 100, I had made two hundred eighty crosses from fourteen pairs of children’s trousers, which was approximately seventy hours of hand-stitching. I made an additional twenty crosses from a fifteenth pair of pants in the weeks following, and then spent another sixty-three days sewing them together. I finished that quilt on Day 389. I completed three others, all by hand, by Day 446.

Now I hand-stitch every day, as per Andy Warhol’s wisdom: “Once is usually enough. Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more.” Sharing a daily, creative habit is a compelling assignment, as the 1,600,000 photos tagged #THE100DAYPROJECT on Instagram testify. For me, cultivating the discipline of creative practice has revealed the more enduring challenge, which is that the trick to becoming an artist is to simply wake up as one, every day. Get out of bed, there’s work to do.

Kate Miller is a homemaker who reimagines the home as a place which cultivates human flourishing for the sake of the world, rejecting the idea of home as a separate sphere. Through slow textile and fibre handiwork, she practices and teaches making and mending as a way to love and to serve others from this place. She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand. From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued. Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa

How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa
How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa
How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa
How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa
How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa
How to Become an Artist in 100 Days: Kate Miller
She Makes Bedcoverings
Kate Miller

She Makes Bedcoverings is four large-scale quilts made from her family’s discarded clothing, entirely by hand.  From using mass-produced children’s clothing to her own wedding dress, and employing different hand-quilting techniques, the quilts challenge the way that material resources, industrialized fashion, and craft knowledge are valued.  Her study of Amish quiltmaking and connoisseurship aims to reconcile the false dichotomy of art and craft, recovering a theological vision of the arts rooted in gratuity, vocation, and wisdom.

Follow her work on Instagram @kviiimiller

Photographed by Samuel Supimpa