Thanks to one of my fellow master quilters I now have a solution. For the last two master classes I have sat next to Barbara B., a supremely talented artist and colorist. Her combination of hues blows me away and I can really stare at her work for hours. You can see one of her pieces here. I would love to show you some of her work, but all of the artists at the master classes have agreed to never show other people's work that is being done in the barn.
Besides the wonderful use of color, Barbara has taught me a number of great sewing techniques- like how to pin in a direction that tugs your pinned fabric in the right direction, or how she sews her complex pieces together. But one of the most fun techniques is how she handles tailing threads at the end of her work. She puts tiny pieces of fabric under the feed dog at the beginning and end of sewing a seam. These result in not only a better looking seam and seam finish, but in creating lots of little pieces of whimsy. One artist who is employed Barb's technique to great effect is Kathy Loomis, and you can see some of the wonderful pieces she has created using "sew-off squares" on her blog.
In October I saw a lovely string of squares hanging on her wall, all from some of the pieces she was working on. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I finally practiced enough that using these small squares is becoming more second nature to me. Besides the technical benefits I have found that it is a lovely break in between the precise piecing that I am doing. Now at the beginning and end of each seam, that is laboriously cut, measured and pinned, I have a bit of whimsy- and I love it.