Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Moment to Think

We interrupt this fiber weekend to think. Or, more precisely, I'm thinking; you just get to read along.

I've just been eating lunch and reading blogs - multi-tasking as always to try fit in everything I want to do. I came upon this and this, one after the other. Go read them; I'll wait.

Tien Chiu is an extraordinary new weaver. I believe she's only been weaving about three years now, a little less time than I have. And yet look at what she just finished. She wove that, people - she wove and sewed her wedding dress and wedding coat. The photos in that post aren't even of the final garments; the final finishes took another couple of weeks.

Now, I know people accomplish extraordinary things while getting married (this is why I got married in front of a justice of the peace, with only two friends as witnesses; I simply couldn't cope with anything more). But still, Tien pushed and pushed herself - and now, as a result of spending the last year ( a year!) weaving and sewing her wedding ensemble, she has decided she is and will be a fiber artist. She is committing herself to becoming an artist. She already is, of course, but she's making it real.

Then I turned to Meg Nakagawa's blog. Yesterday I'd read the Slow Cloth article she refers to, so it was interesting to see Meg's thoughts and those of Keith Recker, who edits Hand/Eye. Keith had an epiphany while hand-sewing three pillows; doing so opened his mind to what it takes to really create something.

Now, you (the readers) and I make things all the time. We knit, we spin, we weave, we are compelled to be makers. I've always been a maker of things, usually with fabric. When I was eight, I sewed a cross-stitch sampler that's somewhere in this house, on a piece of fabric stamped with the pattern.

When I was a freshman in college, close to 40 years ago, I made my first quilt, now very tired, from scraps of fabric.


About 17 years ago, when I made Drizzle, this 5-foot by 6-foot quilt, I realized I was indeed a creative, powerful, productive person, even though my husband at the time didn't believe any of that about me. I left him because of this quilt. Other people appreciated it, and me; the quilt was chosen to be in the juried Visions art quilt show in San Diego, and then traveled around the country.


Right after the divorce, I made a series of little quilts to reassure myself. It worked.


And now I knit, spin, and weave. Obsessively, I'd say. I think I'm trying to say who I am through fiber, and I'm trying to get people to pay attention to what I have to say. I try to make things as fast as I can - and then I get frustrated that an object isn't finished in a week. But that quilt Drizzle took me six months, and I look at it now and think, that's OK, but not great. Not as good as I could make, if only I put the time and effort into it.

It's finding the time to make, to create, in the calm, focused, productive, concentrated state of mind that's necessary to make something worthwhile - that's what is hard for me right now.
So, I'm going to think about how I, too, somewhat like Tien, can commit myself to becoming the kind of person who makes good stuff, who does a good job, who is a good craftsperson.

I don't know if I have it in me to become an artist, by which I mean someone who creates objects that convey meaning to other people - but I'd like to find out.

Scary stuff.


Meg in Nelson said...

Dangerous journey ahead, but an exhilarating one. For me, I was glad to read "beauty" included in Elaine's list, as when I look around to observe what is called textile/fiber art around me, I see too much concept, too much id of the creator and not much beauty nor expert skills. I am dismayed when artists statements are more interesting than their work.

I shall follow your journey with great interest. And by the way, do you have time or head space to make a second Drizzle quilt? Just a though.

Naomi said...

Those are beautiful quilts.

Laurie said...

I love your color and patterning in the quilts. I remember art being ripped out of my soul in the creation of beauty. Sounds like you are going thru the same thing.

cyndy said...

Making a wish for you...
that you find those things within yourself - that which you are looking for.

Your quilts are very beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful Quilt! Great sewing!