The Rusty Quilter
“Hello, my name is Laura and I am a rusty quilter who’s picking up the needle again.”
Geesh, that sounds kind of illegal. No matter, quilting is and has been a very important part of my life since well, forever. Put another way, when the country was re-discovering quilt-art in the 1960’s and 70’s, I was among those who tried my hand at it…and kept my hand in it ever afterwards.
Basic to those early projects was a deep desire to stay true to my own set of ‘quilt values.’ Specifically: recycling used clothing and jeans into quilts and wearables, both utilitarian and artistic. One of my first quilt-based projects used old jeans pockets as squares to make a lounge pillow for my younger brother.
Yes, the times they were a-changin’.* For me, that meant expanding my embroidery embellishment focus (read: hand embroidered bell bottom jeans and peasant blouses) to include crochet and quilting. My artist mother kept pace with the times by becoming quite proficient in the craft of macramé as well as in her choice of fabrics for garment construction. Because of this, there were always scraps of material tucked away in her sewing closet just begging to be used in other projects.
Scroll up to the year 2014 and this long-time quilter has bound many a quilt and fashioned multiple wearable art ensembles.
However, this rusty quilter has been resting on her laurels for way too long. It took a seasoned writer friend and newly novice quilter, Anna Scott Graham, to inspire me to pick up the needle and get on with a project I’ve had in mind for over three years.** If anyone in the midst of artistic angst needed a nudge to take an active step towards doing their ‘art’, it was little ole me.
In ‘Dad’s Chemo Quilt’ Anna states that she has a ‘heart bursting with ambition’ to begin on her new journey into quilting. Further blog postings reflect an underlying enthusiasm just ‘bursting’ with innocence and determination that is hard to dismiss.
About the same time Anna began her foray into the wide world of quilts, I refocused my attention towards working on my own lingering quilt project. Since this past February, she has amassed a goodly amount of quilts to her credit, while I managed to construct 15 blocks for my singularly ‘significant’ quilt.
Never one to be competitive, I figured, ‘hey, my project is symbolic, whereas hers are basically physical tasks that produce a quicker finished product.’
Maybe so; maybe not. All I know is that once I began a dialogue with her about my own solo quilt project, I became accountable to follow through on finishing it at some point.
Anna’s prolific production of quilts is astounding given the short time she’s delved into her new craft, but that’s in keeping with her approach to ‘art’ in general. Her primary (he)art is writing and her portfolio of completed, published works is humongous.
While my primary (he)art is music, I understand the interconnectedness of the arts to support one’s creativity during dry spells. Stubbornly stuck, the muse has been creeping along the edges of my creative life. I sense that completing this WIP quilt project is pivotal in guiding me back to greater active involvement with my music.
Tsk, tsk. How I do tend to get bogged down in all of that symbolic significance stuff.
It’s as if Anna awakened that quilt project to say, “Okay, you’ve had your cathartic moments. Now is the time to get into gear and finish this. I am after all, just a quilt. So complete me already! Treat me as a project that needs finishing, not as something with so many layers of hidden healing messages!”
Now, excuse me while I get to work on polishing up those rusty quilter skills.
**related to our between-homes experiences, this will be discussed in a future post