Friday, August 18, 2017

For Art's Sake

This is another pic test, but also displays what was a big step for me as a quilter. Over the summer I made my first official art quilt (which I define as a quilted piece created organically and strictly to function as art.) I've done some crazy quilted and fiber art pieces, but both times I used stitch guides or patterns. This time I planned nothing, collected the materials I wanted to use as I spotted them, and then put it together and embroidered and quilted it. No patterns. No stitch guide. I designed it based on things in my life, and went with improvisational stitching.

How was it, working on the art quilt? I can tell you that it felt intimidating and frustrating, and at times scared the crap out of me. The whole time I worked on it I wanted to run for my how-to books and use something from them rather than invent my own designs. Even as I put the last stitches in I considered hiding it under the bed.

It's definitely not perfect, and I've seen art quilts that are a hundred times better. I also love every single awkward unplanned imperfect stitch of it, because it's mine. My world. My art. My hands. My vision. I know because I did the same thing thirty-three years ago when I wrote my first novel.

I had no practical reason to make this art quilt. The time I used to work on it could have been spent working on a handmade gift for someone else -- I live in what has become the house of quilts, so I give away almost everything I make now to family or friends. I didn't need another wall hanging; I'm actually running out of wall space in the office. When I thought about it before I made it, I felt like I was being selfish to put so much of my spare time into what seemed basically useless.

Any of that sound familiar? Most of us are so busy with making a living or caring/providing for family that we feel guilty when we give a little of ourselves to our art. To do something just to create beauty, that doesn't generate income, almost seems wasteful. To vent or rejoice or mourn or celebrate through art is probably the best therapy on the planet, and yet we beat ourselves for doing it, or behave as if it's something we have to do in secret, like using drugs or booze.

This art quilt, awkward and amateurish as it is, represents one of the changes I'm making in my creative life. I'm taking a little time for me now, and I don't feel guilty about that. I've spent my life to caring for and giving to others. There are still things I need to discover. I'm going looking for them.

2 comments:

  1. I think that quilt is brilliant and beautiful and a wonderful expression of you. And I know how you feel. I'm at an age where I need to do for me now, once in awhile, and be okay with that. And for the most part, I am now. But it's hard to start! You're starting out great :)

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  2. When I make something it's much easier to "justify" if it's for someone else -- a baby blanket or a wedding sampler, etc etc. You are challenging me! (In a good way)

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