Work:  activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.  

This is the icing on the cake, the cream in my coffee and where all my efforts start to pay dividends.  I’ve used passion to inspire and motivate and consistency and momentum to keep the ball rolling.  I’ve researched my topic so I have a number of options to consider for my design.  I’ve studied the Elements and Principles of design to support strong design outcomes and I now have a design drawn up, ready to stitch.

Now comes the work…Cathy Jack Coupland.Tools


I always design with my technique in mind.  I know it’s abilities and limitations plus it’s what I love to do.  That’s not to say I don’t use other techniques where appropriate – it’s the ‘where appropriate’ that’s important.  I think that’s the one thing much overlooked when teaching.  Design must always consider how you like, want or need to work.

My tools, materials and threads are all ready to go…

I know my tools, the materials and threads I’ll use, how to transfer the design – basically I have a system in place that just kicks in now. This can only happen because I’ve put in all the hard yards already.  Hopefully, I’ve envisioned and dealt with any problems that may arise.  I may still encounter some, but they should be minor.

My design begins to come to life…Cathy Jack Coupland.Repurposed Shirt WIP

This is where I get great pleasure.  Watching a design come to life under my machine.  Day by day.  That’s the secret.  I love what I do, so I use that passion to stitch and to keep at it – even when I’m using the same colour for what seems like hours on end.  I listen to the radio in the mornings and audio books in the afternoon.  I take breaks to exercise and give my eyes a rest from all that close work.  My ‘cook once eat twice’ motto saves me time thinking about meals.  I set aside a period of time each morning to deal with emails and to write this blog, as well as research/design my next project.  I like to have at least one project to begin immediately upon the completion of another.  So for me, it becomes a never-ending cycle of production.

I like to have at least one project to begin immediately upon completion of another.Cathy Jack Coupland.New Design

My work room is my happy place.  When I walk through that door each day, it’s with the intention that I sit down and work straight away.  My machine is set up, my threads are within reach, I have my favourite tools at hand and I am ready to work.  My routine is simple – oil and clean my machine, stitch, break, stitch, lunch, stitch break.  The key here is routine.  It gets me through every time.  Read my previous post My Top 5 Tips to Achieve Focus for Success.

There’s no way I could produce the volume of work I do, without routine.

Check out these routines of famous artists, including, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Miro, Georgia O’Keefe and Willem and Elaine de Kooning.  Whatever works!

Cathy Jack Coupland.Repurposed Shirt

I’ve reached the top of my Hierarchy of Design triangle and there’s an overwhelming sense of achievement.  I’ve designed and created a piece of work.  It could be for exhibition or a commission or purely for pleasure.  It doesn’t matter, I’m moving onto my next piece.

How do you like to work?  What’s your routine?