To Create or Not to Create –

Creativity is the life blood of my existence here in this plane. When I have no time to create – to go to my center – to stop worry from circling my brain and stabbing me with fear – I cannot function.

I have been an artist my whole life. I didn’t know that until I got some distance in age. At first I  drew and then I learned batik – lovely messy batik. And then I moved on to painting in oils. And then I went to college. Big mistake. Being 17 and on my own was startling. My family had always been rather ah shall we say pragmatic. My artistic bent was frowned upon as no way to make a living. And in my family, making a living was necessary.

I studied to be a teacher only to recognize three years into the program that I would rather wait tables than teach German. Not that there were any jobs for German teachers anyway. I had always wanted to study law. The problem was money, time and a bachelor’s degree in something so I could get into law school. I kept this pragmatic dream up until my middle thirties. And then I said Holy Crap you can’t do that – you’re not that kind of person – you would hate it! Whew close call.

I married and had a child. I worked during the day from the time he was 7 months old until he was 7 years old. Then I worked at night, giving lectures and readings in a psychic course. Weird I know, but true. I did groups of readings at my clients’ homes. I read in my home. I did this for 5 years or more. I got tired, burnt out, got to the point that I couldn’t do this anymore.

I started making quilts at about the same time I started reading. It filled in the hours my son was in school and on my off days. One of the first quilts I made was an Evening Star from blocks my mother gave me that had belonged to my great-grandmother and great aunts. They worked on these but had never put them together. There was enough for a small quilt.

I remember asking Mom for these. She gave me a funny look but went and got them out. My Grandma Nanny had given them to her. The box had the 127 Evening Star blocks, Double T blocks, a crib quilt pieced by my paternal grandmother, Grandma Hattie, a bunch of wedding ring pieces, and some odd blocks just tucked in.

When I went to wash these I cried. I cried because my grandmas were gone, I cried because my history was in that cotton, I just cried.

After the Evening Star was finished I sent the story of it, pictures of myself and my relatives to Oxmoor House. They accepted this for publication in Great American Quilts 1992. I was so excited!

I started dyeing fabric. I wanted to replicate an Amish quilt with a center square. I used indigo, hot pink and purple. I hand quilted this through a cotton bat and tough muslin. I liked to never finished. I did though.

I started teaching beginning quilting at my friend’s shop. By this time I was designing weird quilts – still quilts but not just blocks. I was churning out quilts like crazy. I did a lot of wall hangings because the small size was quicker to complete – but also I had done enough bed quilts.

I sold the Amish replica – I sold a pictorial quilt with a cabin and landscape theme, I sold and sold. I showed my work. Over the next few years I would be published in a quilting book and/or magazine (even Patchwork Quilt Tsushin) five more times. I would enter into juried shows – if I got rejected I would walk around in despair for days.

I started collecting old quilt tops. Also vintage fabric. Then I went to an antique show near our home in Michigan and saw a Maypole Quilt (from a kit) that was gorgeous. I loved it but didn’t have the $250. I walked away from it and then I saw two women patting it and pulling it and generally messing with it. I went back to the booth and talked to the dealer. She said I could have it today and she’d take a post-dated check. I almost swooned. I bought it.

I tell myself  I was protecting that quilt. Through the next 10 years I protected a hell of a lot of quilts! I had so many tops, quilts and so much vintage fabrics and textiles, etc. that my friend told me I needed to go into business. So, being easily led, I did. I had a showing of my work at her shop. All of my friends from the shop bought stuff and worked for nothing over that weekend. I was blessed. I thought this was going to be easy.

I did a lot of shows where I sold nothing but which cost a lot for the booths. I kept losing money. I kept making weird quilts. I worked hard. I sold used and rare books online. I loved the business.

Eventually my husband retired and we moved to PEI. I took over 200 antique quilts with me as well as my work. I found a gallery in the capital to show my work and my antique quilts. This was in 2000, when people still had money. I sold a lot of antique quilts and all of my work I could produce. Sigh – it was lovely.

It was on PEI that I became bored with quilting. I just couldn’t do anymore. I was also depressed because we were so isolated in the country – I agree with Hercules Poirot about the country – and I had no inspiration. We had come to the Island to retire. I felt death stalking me. I felt that since we retired, the END was near. How wrong I was!

In another post you can read how I couldn’t take the Island (neither could the guys) and we left 8 years after we came. The winters lasted 6 months there. It was cold, windy, expensive and lonely. It was like being on another planet for me. How I ever thought, me, the shopping genius, could stand being on an Island whose time frame seemed like 1950 – I do not know. I got sucked in because I wanted to live in Vermont and couldn’t afford to buy a B&B – which would have been a bear to run anyway, but we all have our dreams.

And then we landed in Maine. I love Maine. I love being back in my country. I started to create again. I bought myself a really fantastic sewing machine for my birthday in 2008. I made four bed quilts. Then I needed clothes. I couldn’t find anything I liked as most of the clothes I saw were too expensive or too cheap (as I have said before). I started looking online for fabric. I found Gorgeous Fabrics and bought knits for tops. I got a great pattern after much hemming and hawing and started making my clothes. Then I remembered my dream as a teenager reading Glamour magazine – to go to New York to study fashion design. Ooooof I would still do this in a New York minute.

Since I’ve been sewing again I also restarted the fabric dyeing. I got interested in felting (short-lived) and in crocheting (short-lived) and knitting. This led to spinning – well, trying to spin.

I do so many different creative endeavors now that I have to schedule them into my day. Sometimes I waste a whole day on the computer. Other days I get off the damn thing early and head to the sewing room or the spinning room. They are both small. I spin, knit, sew, paint fabric, dye fabric, paint ribbon, etc. I am enthralled.

When I am creating – I am not thinking. I am doing and being. I feel alive. When I am not creating, I don’t. Being project driven can sometimes be depressing if there is no project or if you complete one without an idea for the next. I don’t have that problem ……….


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Another great post.


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