When I first became a quilter in 1999, after 25 years as a weaver, I joked that I chose the former as I discovered I could buy cloth already woven. What I really discovered was how taking a whole cloth and cutting it into pieces and then sewing it back together is really such a great metaphor for life.
A life well lived is chock full of bits, pieces, whole cloth and scraps tied together to create reality. So it only seems fitting as I was tooling along making lots of narrative art, never at a loss for ideas, that I would take a detour! As soon as I began the detour I fretted about losing my place with the muse; as apparently the muse can only be inspired by one direction? Instead I found a month or more of scraps, pieces, diversions, and other distractions.
It all started with a full to overflowing scrap drawer. Now I do not save every scrap, and in fact anything under 3″ I generally discard. But this particular drawer was chock full of leftover bits of batiks, screen-printed, hand-dyed treasure with some commercial cottons, silks, linen, thrown in as well. First I sorted the stacks by color ways and then I set out with some Netflix, to sew strips of scraps. Usually I do this when I am stuck and need to just start something. But I was not stuck, Instead I was motivated by the anti-clutter gene, and this project took me most of three weeks. This is the result.
How will I use these, one asks? Often I have used them as starting points in my work. In the early Defining Moments series I used scrap strips to delineate sections of the story, to represent my predecessors’ Christianity faith or more recently I have used them in the Wisdom Gatherers project pieces. Maybe they will just get rolled up and put into the stash cubbies, sorted by color ways. They will be used, no doubt.
I had a LOT of brown scraps, so I grabbed a strip of those and made this 40″ x 40″ quilt for the Welcome Blanket project, which is welcoming migrant women to the US with a handcrafted blanket. They are supposed to be easy to care for and this quilt of all scraps may not be exacty that, but as Mom used to say, it is the thought that counts! So I am about to press that and ship it off; but first I need to write my own migrant tale, of which I have three. I come from a long line of migrants on both sides, and married the son of a migrant. They are us, all of us.
I also finished up this hemp linen bag. I bought the yarn in 2018 at a shop in Cambria while there on a road trip. They had a mesh shopping bag in the store as inspiration and I totally fell for it! I also bought the .pdf of the pattern. Well the pattern and I parted ways early into the project. How hard can this be? I pondered. It was not hard, I just did not work on it continuously, until recently. This knit-by the-seat-of-your-pants project worked plus I finished with just over a yard of leftover yarn!
Also in the past month I got a new hybrid car, for which I have been actually reading the manual and learning to use all the electronic bells and whistles. I am loving it so much, and was extremely overdue to replace my much loved but breaking down 17 year old SUV. I upgraded the wifi so hubs can watch his sports without interference from other networks, reprogrammed the solar communications because of new network, duked it out with the HMO endlessly for a tech error on their website, which continues, and learned first hand that customer service no longer exists ANYWHERE. Nearly everyday I have put out some conflagration or another. It seems people like me can never run out of problems to be solved. Perhaps instead of allocating studio time, I should allocate problem solving time and then make art the rest of the day.
Yet all this distraction is getting me fired up about new work again. Unfortunately there is just so much wrong in the world that I may never run out of inspiration. I just need to stay focused (squirrel), and remember it is my art that keeps me sane. It is not hours spent on hold with customer service or technical support that makes my heart sing.
Quite the contrary.