Yesterday I shared my venture into cutting strips from a large piece of fabric. I ran out of strips on my first time through because I didn’t do what they tell carpenters to do, “Measure twice, cut once”. That was lesson number one today, plenty more on its way.
When cutting fabric to be affixed to a foundation I iron on a fusible web. It’s like double sided tape, but is used on fabric. It allows you to iron one fabric to another with a permanent (for the most part) bond. Even though the pieces are bonded, I still sew the pieces down for a permanent resolution.
Affixing one piece of fabric to another requires peeling the paper off the back. This is often a time of reckoning because under certain circumstances (older fusible web, not enough heat) the fusible web will not stick to the foundation fabric. When that happens, it requires the decision-making tree to kick in and begin a process of asking the big question, “What next?”
Obviously, this is what happens in the fiber world, but in your creative genre the signs and symbols may be different. Think about what may go wrong in your medium, and what actions you take to rectify the situation. It can be one of the most creative avenues available to you. When I first started quilting, my teacher told us never buy more than a half yard of fabric because it will force you to exercise your creative muscles. Don’t get me wrong, the first time I ran out of fabric I felt like I was dropped in the middle of the desert with no compass. I eventually found my way and have progressed to new and more complex forms of separation anxiety.
Truth be told, we all have scary moments in our lives. How we handle it depends on our previous preparation protocols. Think of problem solving in other areas of your life and what your process was to resolve the situation. This is one of those moments when art imitates life.
Things can change in a minute as life teaches us each and every day. I took some fabric that I was going to use as a backing for a mini-quilt. I proceeded to cut up scraps of fabric and when I put the quilt sandwich together, I flipped the fabric and what was the back became the front. It’s this type of extemporaneous creating that adds to the creative experience.
The piece I created was originally titled vectors. I like to name my pieces, but sometimes the work yells that it’s got the wrong name and I need to reconsider both the intention and design. I went from calling the piece vectors to crossing paths. The piece was a visual representation of what is coming up in my meditations.
We just finished a year and it’s usually a good time to reflect on what transpired in our lives. I thought back to when I had traveled for work and was away from home four to six months at a time. I lived in various parts of the country, urban and rural areas, highly affluent and socioeconomically challenged communities. I learned something from each person I had the pleasure of meeting at these diverse locations.
What did I learn? I learned that small town living is intimate while at the same time being a bit enmeshed. I learned that economically challenged communities are always looking for new ways of reinvigorating their communities while trying to provide opportunities for those who live locally. I learned that the foods in western Texas are very different from the foods in northwest Pennsylvania. What I learned first and foremost is that people are people. All we want is to be included, heard, and seen.
I wanted to show that we never know who will cross our paths and we definitely don’t know the impact they will have on our lives. Who has crossed your path that had an impact on your life? How are you expressing that creatively? Perhaps you’re writing a story. Maybe you remember a song that played on the radio while you visited a particular location and every time you hear the song memories of that place rise to the surface.
Working in oncology services I met many people who commemorated their last chemo with a celebration, a work of art, and written words. People and experiences will continually cross our path trying to get our attention and teach us something that will propel our lives forward.
What has crossed your path? How did you mark that experience?
I just finished reading “Hidden In Plain View: A secret story of quilts and the Underground Railroad.” Tobin and Dobard examined the history and role that quilts played in helping slaves on their treacherous, dangerous, and life-saving journey to freedom.
I started quilting over twenty years ago and I started as a “traditional” quilter. I bought books and patterns and created quilts that were designed by other quilters. I utilized “contemporary” fabrics, but the patterns were tried and true, and I knew that decades if not centuries of quilters had created these same patterns before me.
Because of the limited resources available to slaves, and freed slaves, it was common for old quilts to be used as batting (the middle layer between the quilt top and backing) for a new quilt. However, what if we took a different view of old quilts? Tobin helps us “reframe” the experience of keeping old quilts.
In the epilogue of the book, Tobin states, “What is old and warn is spiritually textured.” That statement is not only applicable to quilts from the Underground Railroad, but anything that has a history. One example is the cost and value of antique furniture. Individuals have found value in what’s old; it has value.
We find that old things that are “spiritually textured” have a history and a story. Telling stories is the center of our existence. It allows us to convey our experiences and our connection to what transpired in the past. It allows us to feel a part of something greater than ourselves. It gives us a connection to a past we couldn’t know about any other way.
How do we unlock the spiritual mysteries of those quilts (possessions) that are old and worn? What draws us to these items; obviously we are drawn to them for a reason. What is it about the unspoken story that attracts our own stories to meet on the spiritual plane? What do you think about old and warn being spiritually textured?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below…thanks for joining me on the journey.