For those of you who have followed for a while you know that I’m am a wandering artist. Trying this technique and then that teaching what I learn along the way. Sometimes I lament that I’m not a Monet type, you know, painting my metaphorical lily pond every day. But I’m really more of a Picasso (not the boorish, misogynist part), just when my audience knows what they like about my work I change it. Lately I’ve been doing more stitch in my mixed media work, you’ve seen that in my most recent posts. When I first started art quilting, I was all about the machine stitch…. don’t slow me down just get it done. But increasingly I’ve been drawn back to hand stitch. A participant in a workshop gave me some feedback that having a hand stitch option for a workshop would be attractive to some people, so I set about making some examples to satisfy that request. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would be also attractive to me, that in sitting down with needle and thread in a comfy chair with a podcast or music or friends that I would find a quiet beauty in the doing. Something different than the feeling of accomplishment at finishing quickly…. sometimes in my life I have measured my success by how quickly and efficiently I could complete a piece of work or art to my satisfaction. The act of slow stitching does not check off that box. I let my stitches be improvisational and move where they want to go, sometimes sparse and sometimes dense, complicated or simple; each section of the piece tells me what it needs. Adding this leisure and slowness to my work has added a richness, a texture and a fullness that was not achieved by the machine and by speed. The hand at work is evident, the art was clearly held, nurtured into existence.
I hope you can find your leisure in the doing. Perhaps its baking something special to bring to a friend’s house or maybe taking time to prune the roses in your yard of faded blooms, maybe even slowing down your power walk to hear the birds and watch the breeze sway in the trees.
Whatever it is be well, take care.
PS. I’m teaching a workshop about this Fabric Cut out technique in October – contact me if you want more information.
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.