Monday, January 24, 2011

on patience...

I have been thinking a lot about patience.  I consider myself a patient person - for the most part.  Just like everyone else, I have my moments, but speaking in general terms I'm good with having to sit with things and wait.  I don't mind projects that drag on (unless of course they have to do with the order of my home- we live in creative clutter, that I can deal with, but when projects bring on full on chaos, forget it, we have to bulldoze our way through to the finish line so that my sanity returns).  My patience is a quality that I think helps to allow me to love quilting and not get frustrated with it.  (Thus the quilt that took 3 years and the owner of whom won't get back to me to pick it up. - Trying to be patient about it, but the temptation to put it on my bed grows daily - especially when the cats are laying on it and I worked so hard on it.)

The other day, I took the day off from work - which I seldom do since I work part time at home and part time in an office keeping books and I can often do the office work from home. I decided I deserved a break - especially after the ice and snow storm and the havoc that it caused me at work.  (The south really needs a better game plan for inclement weather, but I'll save that rant for the next time we get bad weather) I digress. I took the day off. I did do a little work, but not much, sometimes I just can't help myself.  Afterwards, I invited my closest artist friend, Sarah Cook, over to paint while I worked on a quilt.  I don't know about you all, but it is so much more fun to have a friend around while creating. You feed off one another's energy and I especially love when I get to do it with Sarah.  We both work, we both homeschool, she lives on the other side of the world in relation to where I live and our children all have schedules and needs so we have to work hard to find time to get together much less finding time to create in the same space - I mean in our reality, you can almost forget it.  I tend to not want to take my sewing machine places as it is electronic and I worry about all the bouncing around that happens to and from and in the car (although I am willing to do it occasionally) and Sarah paints in oils and paints on road signs and other recycled items she finds (one day she'll get around to getting some really good photos of her paintings and I will be able to share them.  I think they are absolutely fabulous.)  The point is, she has big stuff to haul and when it's wet... thinking about how to transport her paintings without damage... makes me shudder...We aren't talking knitting needles and yarn (though I am totally happy to get together with fellow knitters too and I tend to have a knitting project I can always take along with me).  She and I have to be patient when searching for time to spend together and we have to plan it where we will have enough time to really make it worth the effort involved.  When I went back to work I even worked out my work schedule to be off on Tuesdays when Sarah is also off, but do you think we get together very many Tuesdays?  Nope, I had to take off on a Thursday to make it work.  But, after talking about it a lot, we made it happen and that's what counts.  Patience pays off.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with your quilting? I'm getting there... have patience... (remember I've been thinking about it for a few days before writing about it - it is Monday after all and she was here on Thursday).

While she was here, I got quite a bit of stitching done on the background of the quilt I'm working on.  She was laughing because we were trying to talk - trying being the key word, over music and my sewing machine stitching, so really we were yelling.  (lovingly of course).  We spent 3 hours talking and musing and loving the creativity that was flowing between us.  When the time came for us to part ways, I had done what I felt like was a good amount of work, she had finished a painting and was already contemplating the next.  (I want to add here that Sarah managed to paint not 1, not 2, but 3 paintings on Thursday before calling it a day.) I mentioned how nice it must be to finish something when you sit down at it rather than it taking weeks and weeks and sometimes months and even sometimes years... She, of course, laughed and we talked about my patience...

My quilts are tedious.  They are very time consuming.  Every part takes time.  Every piece takes time.  There is no throwing it together and hoping for the best.  Everything is planned (to a certain degree).  Some planning takes place at the very beginning like the general concept, the general idea, maybe the initial drawing.  Then the background has to be built if it is separate from the foreground which in my work is usually the case.  I painstakingly cut fabric, fuse fabric, stitch around edges if that's needed only to cover it up with something else a little further down the road.

Once the background is complete, I start work on the stitching of the background.  There was a time when I would wait until everything was all put together and then stitch and do all my quilting, but I have discovered with the last few things I have done that waiting does not work for me.  My stitching often becomes sloppy because I have to work around everything that is on the quilt.  Why not go ahead and do it? Then it is done and I don't have to worry about it at the end of the project. I always keep in my mind how I'm going to pull all three layers together.  Here again, though, it requires some knowledge of what the end product is going to look like in order to do stitching before I get there.  I have to know in my mind what I'm going for and how I want the image to look with the stitching. There's no immediate gratification in my quilting other than the experience.  Now, don't get me wrong, if it needs more at the end, I'm not above adding it, but generally, I like to do the majority of it all before the end.  Again, so much patience... The end is always the goal. The finished product.  But, when does the end come?  How long will it take me to get there? It's not like I don't WANT it immediately... I like immediate gratification like everyone else.  I'm really no different, but I persevere because I know THIS is my medicine... taking my time to do it right and to do it well... Patience...

Once the background is finished, I can begin really getting my drawing ready to become fabric.  I usually have to take it to the local print shop to have it blown up (unless I have the forethought to plan the background to be the right size, but I seldom do that.  I usually have a general size in mind to begin with but never an exact size.  The drawings usually start on regular sized paper.)  Once I have the image the size I want it, then I set to work to tracing it onto Sulky Totally Stable.  Something else I have to always remind myself is that it is going to end up opposite of the drawing, so depending on where and how I want things on the finished product, I sometimes I have to reverse the image (which of course the print shop is totally willing to do for me).  Then, I set to work - after I make sure all the colors I have chosen work together well.  This process can take hours marking all the pieces, figuring out the order I'm going to put them together, making marks so I know exactly how they go together.  What seems like it should be a quick part is very time consuming, but always worth the work in the end... again patience...

Slowly I cut one piece away from the overall drawing, make it in fabric, then sew it to the previous piece until I have the whole image ready for the background (stay tuned over the next few weeks as I show this process through pictures - I'm going to really show you my whole piecing process of this quilt - something I have never done before.) I usually work at this for days - especially since many of my days are only an hour here and an hour there...

Finally, I get the piece finished (usually a good couple of months after I start) and I can layer it, trim it, throw a little quilting on to hold the layers together, bind it, and viola I've finally reached the end.

What do I learn from the fact that my creative outlet is time consuming?  That nothing I do is worth doing if it doesn't take me time to integrate the lessons I learn through the process.  I learn that patience and perseverance always pay off.  Whether someone else likes it or not is really irrelevant to me in the end.  I feel thankful that I have a creative voice at all and through my patience I have learned more about myself and my perceptions of the world which ARE ONLY perceptions.  I learn through being patient how to better relate my needs and how others needs are just as important as my own. I learn when I am patient and don't demand what I want in the moment everyone gets what they most need.  There is always a solution.  I love the overflow into the rest of my life.

Patience is a quality worth cultivating.  I think it is a quality we can always be working on.  The more patience we have with ourselves and our expectations, the more patience we can have in the world and the more gently  we can look on others and their lives with.  I guess this is why it is one of the saintly virtues.

Here's a photo of what I managed to get done while Sarah was here on Thursday just for you.  (proof that we didn't just talk, I mean yell)


1 comment:

  1. I love your are a good teacher and I learn a lot from your posts....can't wait to see more pictures of your process..