It’s never a good sign when I’m playing around with the look of my blog. It is an indicator of one of two things: brain freeze ( I got nuthin’) or time-out (when I’m stressed, heat stressed, anxiety stressed, etc. and anything I put on the internet would be of the shock and awe variety, and not the “good” shock and awe, either. ) So there you go. I’m playing with the look of my blog. (Okay, I’m in time-out.)
In the meantime I have an amazing labor of love to occupy my hands. A very good friend has one of the wall hangings made by my mother. We used to sell them in our store here in Gloucester and then mail a check back to her where she would cash it in and buy more quilting fabric. (Mom kicked ass that way.) Linn has had this beauty hanging in her home for many years and recently asked me to take it home and give it a wash – she was nervous about doing it herself. Okey dokey. Washed. Line dried in the approaching scorching heat. When I took it down I noticed that the sleeve on the back of the hanging had some places where the threads had just let go. Age happens. I found a spool of black thread and a sharp needle and I’m redoing the entire sleeve. It is a miracle that I’m able to do it without clutching it to my chest, crying, and refusing to let it go. (Eleven years later I think I’m finally making progress with my grief.) I’m actually enjoying the process, loving the chance to work on something my mom made, and grateful for the fact that Linn GETS IT.
There are not a lot of people out there who “get it” when it comes to quilts or, for that matter, anything hand crafted. Paintings in galleries are found “worthy” but quilts, knit socks, hats or scarves are just KRAFTY with a K and not “worthy” of being looked at as serious creative expressions that require time and talent. It has been an uphill battle for years. To show my serious intent I was going to start a quilt guild here in Gloucester and call it “Quilt Bitches” and we’d all get Harley-Davidson tattoos (but the motorcycle would have a quilted seat.) Cool, right? ‘Cept I’d never get a tattoo.
A quilter’s quest for street cred is apparently a life-long venture. This is made more difficult by The Learning Channel’s newest program, Craft Wars, hosted by….. TORI SPELLING. Seriously, TLC? I personally believe the only time she’s had a hot glue gun in her hand was when she was replacing some hair extensions that had fallen out. A Twitter peep of mine remarked that while she did watch the debut show, she found “Tori’s clown-like makeup distracting.” TLC needs to learn (oohh, how ironic…) that credibility is an important part of attracting an intelligent and respectful audience who – when given intelligent content from creditable sources – have a way of going out and spending money with the show’s sponsors to recreate those ideas in their own home. It’s a concept.
Time to get back to sewing the sleeve on this wall hanging. Linn was skittish about washing it herself because she wanted to make sure it was done carefully and properly because she loves this thing as much as I do. She respects the time, effort, labor and creativity that went in to producing it. She gets it.
This is Ed. He is the new sock monkey I purchased at a serendipitous stop at a church rummage sale.
On Saturday I drove up to Lowell, Massachusetts, to visit my career alma mater the The New England Quilt Museum. It was with mixed emotions – I miss the place terribly but the looong commute, the price of gas and the combined toll it took on my body and pocketbook made the decision for me. As I pulled off I-93 and began the storybook-beautiful drive down Rte. 133 I remembered Saturday mornings were prime-time for yard sales all along the route but I could never stop and poke around (as I would be late for work) so for five long years I resisted the temptation.
That was all behind me as I cruised along and spied a lovely church lawn cluttered with tables and merchandise and people swarming about. The first table I walked up to was managed by a quilter who was selling off her book collection and had some fantastic books all selling for a mere $5 a pop. I love it when karma happens. I managed to restrict myself to an armful and wandered to the next table where I found ED. Ed had to come home with me. I’ve wanted a sock monkey doll fah-evah (local Gloucester dialect) and he was adorable. I didn’t name him, he just told me his name when I tucked him in to the passenger seat among my new/old books. It happens that way with me, I swear.
Ed and I continued on to the museum for a wonderful reunion with co-workers and quilts. I was completely blown away by the Fenway Park Centennial show – Rosemary Baun is a tremendously talented quilter. Even if you’re not a die-hard Red Sox fan (and I’m not) it was well worth a visit. The imagination and creativity were rockin’! The quilts up in the permanent collection room(s) were breathtaking. It was all good. What made it better was the special program presented by Shelly Zegart who created and produced the DVD documentary Why Quilts Matter – History, Art and Politics . I’ve been a big fan and supporter of this important and alternately hysterically funny and sobering work for ages and it pleased me no end to see a room full of people become enlightened and engaged too. Bonus – I finally got to meet Shelly and she is a peach, as was her husband, sister and brother-in-law. (Apparently they have a family requirement to be bright, intelligent and maintain a rippin’ sense of humor.) I’m sure their website was inundated with people wanting to watch segments online and learn more about the program. Guild reps in attendance perked right up when, after seeing segment samples, they realized the programing value inherent in the production. A win-win and bang for the buck. What’s not to love?
On the drive home Ed and I talked about the responsibility quilters have to support each other in their work. It applies to supporting any of the arts – it doesn’t just fall out of the sky, people. The expression, “Money is like manure - if you leave it in a pile it rots, you have to spread it around to do any good” has been attributed to many people but it doesn’t lessen the truth or importance of the statement. We all want the quilting culture and industry to thrive. Ed says that while few of us have Medici money to be patrons we can buy a ticket or a book, throw a few bucks into a membership (even if it is far away and we can’t visit often), support research and programing and – GET A LOAD OF THIS – benefit ourselves from what we have fertilized. Sometimes this means paying a few dollars more for a book or a pattern than we would if we could find it for on, say, Amazon. To be truthful, Amazon doesn’t need my money and doesn’t support my community. Besides, after they tack on inflated shipping and “handling” fees the difference really. isn’t. that. much. I’d rather buy it directly from the quilter, the author, the designer – you get my drift. The quilting industry is a THREE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR BUSINESS. That is not a typo. Ladies and gentlemen of quilt nation that is a LOT of manure. Look at where you spread it very carefully. Pay attention to where leave it. Spread it in worthy places but most important of all: SPREAD IT. I guarantee by doing so not only the scholarship, books, patterns, fabric and RESPECT for your most beloved art will bloom and grow and thrive, but YOU will bloom and grow and thrive as a quilter, quilt artist, historian, academic…..