The “100 day project” was created in 2007 by Michael Bierut, a graphic design teacher at the Yale School of Art, as a workshop: “…a daily practice…the only restrictions on the operation you choose is that it must be repeated in some form every day, and that every iteration must be documented for eventual presentation. The medium is open, as is the final form of the presentation on the 100th day.” About 10 years later, in the spring of 2017, I happened upon an open invitation by “elleluna” to participate in the Instagram version of the 100 day project. I jumped in with “100 days of making art after breakfast” (#100daysofmakingartafterbreakfast). I figured that if I never left the kitchen table, I might have a better chance of carrying this out before starting something else that would then lead to something else and the day would vanish (again) without making art. For that first round, I decided to go out of my comfort zone or training: to make water color paintings, real and abstract, outlined with black marker. I actually stayed with it to Day 43 (*these are still on Instagram under @susanfaeder), until I left home for a 4-day trip and everything just fell apart. I understand now that 43 days is pretty good for a first time. A lot of people have false starts, and/or take breaks, but even so, I feel it speaks to people at least wanting to try, to reach for something we feel we deserve, to explore without criticism and to express ourselves without fear or specific goals or parameters.
Two years later, in April 2019, I decided to try again. I had just returned from leading my 30th (and last) textile tour of Japan and had no immediate travel plans. My calendar was free of work and travel. The timing seemed as perfect as it ever would be. I decided to try to make a series of small cloth amulets (good luck charms) like one finds (and purchases) at Japanese temples and shrines for all types of “luck.” My amulets would celebrate and connect my 50 years of travel to Japan and study of Japanese culture with my love and experience of fiber arts—specifically quilting. I would use my Japanese fabric scraps and adorn them with beads and found objects (from around the house), thus not purchasing materials and re-purposing things I might just as well thrown out, embracing the Japanese concept of mottainai (“waste nothing”). I imagined that these small talismans could be worn as a brooch or a necklace, could be pinned to a lapel, or tied to a purse, or carried in a pocket. Each would be unique and hold a power for the owner. And off I went, letting my intuition and inner self lead the way.
Upon completion, a few thoughts arise: Yes, it is certainly very cool to see the 100 pieces all together, how they are a family of sorts. It is rewarding to know that I was able to persevere and complete the challenge, and to look back to understand where one thing led to another. Perfection of straight lines and perfect corners were not my intention, and I am aware that many of these amulets are not so great. Several are good, and some are quite charming, and maybe a few are pretty darned good. You have to work through the not so greats and take chances, trust the process. Stop judging yourself. Where you start is not necessarily where you end up. You can’t force something into being; it will show you what it wants to be. It was also rewarding to be able to add a description of the work as I went along, sharing the significance of a particular piece of fabric or bauble and the memory attached to it (that I erroneously assumed would only matter to me). And to have conversations with old and new friends online as they interacted with an amulet and offered their admiration and support meant a lot to me. But most importantly, the value of the experience (for me) is not in the finished products. It was in giving myself the gift of process, the practice of putting art first, seeing what sacrifice was required and how that, in turn, affected other aspects of my life. Making art is a solo expedition with no guarantee. All this a mirror of life itself! Perhaps I took it all too seriously, but I am a serious kind of gal. I learned to trust the process, trust my talents, and came to validate my inner self- at least for the time being.
To read about Michael Bierut and see examples of his students from early years, click HERE.
To listen to an interview with Michael Bierut, click HERE.
To learn about the woman who brought “100 days” to the Instagram platform in 2013, click HERE.
To learn more about the 100 day project, the rules (and the non-rules), and how you can register to join the millions who have taken up the gauntlet, click HERE.
To read about the significance and many types and powers of lucky charms in Japanese culture, click HERE.