If you’ve read my first post, you’ll know I’ve been out of the quilting world for several years. I would like to say I always knew I’d come back to it but I can’t. I figured I’d make a random quilt here and there, maybe after my heart-sons graduated college and got their own places. Then I could commandeer one of their bedrooms for my work room. But that was a haphazard thought drifting along one of the many twists in my mind, sharing space with the other thoughts on other mind twists, wishful dreams of ways I could live a creative life.
I can, however, say with all the certainty that my independent, strong-willed mind possesses:
I’ve always known I was meant to do creative work.
The problem, reinforced by well-meaning adults (when I was young) and society (all the rest of the time), is that creative work is notorious for not paying well. Unless you’re one of the very few who make it big. Since there was no guarantee spending my productive working years making art would result in luxuries like food or a retirement fund, I copped out and went corporate. Or, to put it another way, I did the practical thing and got a job.
There’s nothing wrong with that; there’s just a part of me that wishes I had been as strong-willed when I was starting out as I’ve grown to be. If I had been, then I would have been brave enough to try.
The job isn’t creative but it pays well and is producing a nice nest egg for that far off day when I won’t have to wake to an alarm clock, shower, dress, put on 4″ heels, and slog my way through commute traffic. (I’ll miss the heels.) So I’ll keep it, or one like it, as long as needed.
But the lack of freedom to create in the day job has been killing my spirit, sucking the soul right out of my fingertips. I watched my essence drift away in wispy whiffs of heart. It made me cranky because I could not find the balance between work me and live me. Work me was taking over and the lack of creativity in my day-to-day produced literal pain. So I went in search of balance.
Turns out I’d already found that balance in my Sweets.
He encourages, in fact, actively supports, me. Not just the things I like or love to do, but me. I’m a lucky lady.
With his support, I embraced leaving work at work, going to the gym to swim before going home, keeping up with my prolific reading, and investigating ways I could make creativity an integral part of who I am, not just who I want to be.
Earlier this year, I dove deep into researching myself so I could figure out the best way to bring my imagination to life, so I could find those things I love to do. A couple of things popped to the surface of my memory ocean.
Poetry. And quilts. What if I combined the two?
I’ve written poetry since I was 9. During the tail end of the dismal, dank, absolutely miserable Chicago winter of 2013-2014, I’d written a poem about rainy, dark days after staring out my office window. As I scribbled the first draft of the poem, I saw a quilt. It formed, almost fully designed, right alongside the words I’d written. I sat back, stunned. Not at the awesomeness of the poem, but because I suddenly knew what I was meant to do.
My poetry would inspire my quilt designs.
I went home that evening and in the rat-a-tat-tat that is me excited, told Sweets I wanted, no, needed, to go get my sewing supplies out of storage. He smiled and said okay.
Of course he did.
When we got everything back to the house, I opened the boxes and discovered an unfinished quilt — Celtic Knot. I’d forgotten all about it. Maybe I’d blocked it out.
Celtic Knot was a pre-made pattern, a stained glass quilt design. When I purchased and started it back in 2007, it was a total b*tch to work on. To create the “leading”, I was required to snip, fold, and glue the raw edges back onto the “lead”. Tedious. And difficult. I needed Herculean strength to squeeze the glue bottle to dispense the glue and I’m no Hercules. Or Xena, if I’m going to get the gender right. I’d given up on the project. After all, not every quilt gets finished.
However, I have a mild case of OCD. When I re-discovered Celtic Knot in that box, my OCD wouldn’t let me start on a new creative endeavor making poetry quilts as a way to keep myself sane until I finished what I’d left unfinished. I made a decision: if I could find pleasure in completing a quilt I originally had no drive to finish, then I would know I was on the right path.
So I went and bought a new bottle of glue. One that didn’t require me to possess Xena’s strength.
That bottle made all the difference.
I finished the “leading” and piecing the “glass” in a matter of a few weeks. Working backwards to let the quilt inspire the poem, I wrote one, printed it on fabric and used it to sign the quilt.
The quilting isn’t all that great – I went with stitch in the ditch and my stitching was erratic, but you can only tell if you get up close. And the binding. I don’t want to talk about the binding. Suffice it to say, I’m really out of practice and I’m glad no one sees the backside of a quilt when it hangs on a wall. But I finished it.
And I loved the process. So much so, I immediately began the next one. Stay tuned for progress reports!
What has stopped you from finishing a project? Did you find a solution?
Celtic Knot (link to poem)