Modern Quilting Bee + Creative Sweatshop = A Great Week!
I spent the week at The Bishop’s Ranch Quilt Retreat. I have watched the myriad of quilting groups that come through, wandering the rows of tables piled high with colorful fabrics and tools of the trade; sewing machines, scissors, rolling cutters, rulers, on and on and on. Along with all the stuff and stash at these retreats there is an abundance of accumulated wisdom, practiced advice, and a flowing fount of ideas. I have been threatening to attend one of these bursting, bustling events myself for a few years and this week I finally did. I have a lot of sewing experience and have even done a bit of quilting but never seriously and never with all the tools and information. I tend to launch into things with a lot of enthusiasm but little knowledge and muddle my way through, with mixed results. This retreat provided me with two things I don’t usually have: 1. a wealth of shared tools and space, 2. more importantly, a generous community of experience and encouragement. Almost everything I do these days I do alone, my graphics work is just me and the computer and the rest of the time I am stashed away in my tiny bursting at the seams studio. I am something of an introvert so mostly I don’t mind the alone time, but this week I got to experience the joy of the sewing circle, the draw of the modern quilting bee. Back in the day when quilting bees were a part of life, church ladies and neighbors would get together to work on quilts, each in turn helping the other with wedding quilts, and baby quilts, anniversary quilts and quilts for the county fair. Women would chat and share, gossip and support. It was a productive excuse to take a break from the hard isolated work of keeping a household running back in those days. And today the needs are different but the draw is the same. We all are running full tilt in our own little worlds, getting snippets of friends on facebook, learning new things off of youtube. Don’t get me wrong I use those resources too, and it’s amazing what you can learn out there floating in the world wide web, but you are floating alone. I know we’ve got our “friends” and our “links” and our “bookmarks” and our “pinterest” but we are still sitting alone with our device….or more likely sitting with other people who are all searching their devices (I know because it happens all the time in my house ….myself included). But this week community was incarnate, we were there in the flesh, ideas, comments, instruction, feedback, sharing, help all happening in real time. It was invigorating and exhausting all at once. Although we were all working on our own projects, unlike the quilting bees of old, there was still a strong sense of collective effort. I went in with an idea of what I wanted to accomplish and managed to achieve that but gained much more from the passion and practice and patience of this modern sewing circle.
It was good to get out of my little box, otherwise know as my studio, and try something new. I made the bird banner (pictured above) members of the sewing circle and stitchery (picture below) The bird images are ipad drawings that I printed on fabric on my home printer then pieced in a traditional way and machine quilted. I am going to donate the wall hanging to The Bishop’s Ranch to raffle off for the 2012 annual fund. When there is a link for raffle tickets I’ll let you know.