Tuesday, February 27, 2018

No secret squirrel

Friends, when you leave comments on my blog I read them!!  Although it may take a while, I try to respond to any questions that you ask, because the whole reason I do a blog is to have conversations with other people.  So when Other Kathy in New Zealand asked a question before Christmas I knew I had to get back to her eventually.

I had written a blog post about collage, and O.K.i.N.Z. wrote:  "Is your work secret squirrel at the moment, Quilt National prep or other things we can't look at?  I noticed that I've not seen much sewing lately in your posts."

O.K., you are one astute reader.  You're right, there hasn't been much sewing in my posts because there hasn't been much sewing in my life.  Hand-stitching, yes, and one of these days I need to show you a couple of pieces that are either finished or nearing completion, but no piecing or quilting.  Truth is, I haven't felt much like embarking on a big quilt.  I am feeling very ambivalent toward the quilt world as the outlet for my artistic yearnings.  I have no desire to devote the next six months to making three huge things for Quilt National, not to mention no brilliant ideas. 

I have to make a baby quilt for the grandchild of a friend who died last year.  Our local textile and fiber art group, of which she was a member, went over to her house and cleaned out the studio at the request of her husband, who talked about the baby due in June.  I knew that Linda would have loved to have made a baby quilt, and felt that I needed to do this task for her and her family.  So I went through her fabric stash and picked out some appropriate pieces, but I haven't started working on the quilt yet.

What has happened to make me totally uninterested in big quilts?  I've been asking myself the same question.  I have been getting disillusioned with the juried-show business model, in which the artist pays the venue for the opportunity to show her work.  Entry fees keep inching up every year, as do shipping costs.  More troubling, when you show in these venues people never have a chance to see a body of work.  Those with very good memories may recall some things from the past but otherwise it's hard to distinguish between artists who make a lovely one-off quilt and those who have been building a body of work over some time.

I know one answer is to seek out solo shows where you can display many works, but that takes a lot of work and perhaps a lot of politics.  I have not summoned up the energy to go in that direction.

But more important, probably, is that since I have joined PYRO Gallery, a co-operative, I have a venue where I can show some work all the time, can be in group shows once or twice a year, and will have a solo show this fall.  The gallery is not conducive to showing huge quilts, so I have put up some smaller ones, but I have been much more excited about the chance to explore some new mediums and formats.  And this summer, instead of chaining myself to the sewing machine for Quilt National, I'll be chaining myself to some other piece of equipment in the studio for my solo show.

Maybe it's just time for something new.  Whatever I come up with, I'll share with you.  And I'll still be teaching and writing about quilts, because I love them and I love sharing that love with others.  Maybe there will be new quilts in my future again, but not this week.


  1. Interesting post into your thoughts. I had my first real glimpse into the quilt/world at Houston this past fall. I was in an exhibit put together by two good friends on quilts for Canada's 150. And how exciting it was. I came home on a high.
    It has not been as exciting since. And a lot of searching what and who I want to be with my quilting. There is a real sense of FOMO (The Fear of Missing Out) that goes on in the quilting world.
    Get this fabric, gadget, book, tool, etc before it is gone. Take this class, technique etc and expand into something.
    My daughter was my partner in my adventure and she put the FOMO description out there for me. I had the feelings but did not know of the term. Since then I have been seeing the world a bit different.
    I think it is good and healthy to have times where you are trying to figure things out. Maybe your just at the junction of another path and need to figure out what road you want to go on. Nothing wrong with that . And even if your not showing lots of quilty progress I enjoy your writing and words.
    Remember to as you lost a friend that can make you reflective too. Do what feeds your soul. Life is to short to do other wise.

  2. Look forward to your hand stitching projects! And 'big' isn't always better, is it! Enjoy the week!

  3. I am also struggling with quilting burn out. Just not enjoying all the time and energy it takes to create another one that will likely end up on the heap eventually. So I am signing up for a Creative Strength series with Jane Dunnewold. Fingers crossed.

  4. Thanks for being so open, thanks for replying

  5. Thanks for writing about this as it has been on my mind for months. It has been interesting to see what you are working on. I am changing also, as the thought of entering another show just doesn't interest me anymore.

  6. Sounds like Pyro Gallery has been a great venue for you. So glad you will have a solo show there. In the tapestry world lately we’ve been talking about the benefits of applying to all-media shows, not just all-tapestry or even all-fiber.

  7. I have a question that maybe you can answer. I am creating a quilt that will include paint. What is the best way to mail a quilt that may not be suitable for folding. It will be 30x40.

    1. Janice -- I would roll the quilt around a pool noodle or cardboard tube, always with the right side facing out. You can insert tissue paper or fabric between the layers as you roll, if you want. Then ship in a 6x6 inch box. If the quilt is easier to roll in one direction, do it that way.

      I ship quilts this way even if they're not particularly stiff, to avoid creases.