So, I was poking through Quilt Out Loud today and realized that I may have the most inscrutable table of contents in Quiltland. I mean it makes perfect sense to me, but to the average eye it may well seem a random collection of words and phrases.
I suppose that happens when one’s practice is all over the place, when no subject is out of bounds. What I really love about it, though, is that no-one tried to wrangle it into obvious coherence by layering some sort of meta structure. It just is what it is. In fact it feels more like an index at the front than a table of contents.
I suppose what I really like about it is that it clearly states what is where but gives little indication of what you’ll find. It is mysterious, in a good way I think. It’s just that unlike aesthetically based quilts where the title vaguely references the form of the quilt, mine reference the concept, the content of the quilt which give very little information about the quilt itself.
Hence, this is definitely my favorite table of contents ever…
Every once in a while I come up with a projects that really pulls me out of my comfort zone. For the last couple of years my comfort zone has been solids and words. I’m not giving up the words, though how they are happening is something of an experiment, an attempt to visually convey the things I scream only in my mind when the whole gun/shooting/insanity thing comes up. My applique work just puts the words out there, but for this one I’m going for words though but unsaid…
But the real step out of my comfort zone is my fabric pull; I don’t think anyone in their right mind would have expected me to pull these two:
But there it is, a garish perversion of beauty, which kinda fits the bigger picture of this quilt. I want my text to get lost in there, but not entirely. You ever have that experience of almost being able to hear what someone is thinking; well that’s what I’m going for here. A certain intensity that almost vibrates with the rage that will be left understated in the presentation of the text itself.
I have no idea if this is going to work; there are so many ways it could go wrong, but I’ve decided it is worth the try. I need a new direction, or at least a new methodology now that Quilt Out Loud and Quilting Rhythm are off to press. I guess this is the perfect time for some experiments: books are off, QuiltCon quilts submitted, a secret something else sent off. My plate is clean and just waiting for me to make a proverbial mess.
So, having the mutant freak body that I have, I’ve spontaneously developed tendonitis (we hope) in my lot (non-dominant) arm. As to just how this would have happened I have precisely zero clue. But there it is, a swollen arm, the inability to grasp with my left hand, and shooting pains. Hence my ambition of starting to make new work has been delayed indefinitely.
On the plus side the kids get a Lego room a little bit longer and I get some time to plan out filming a couple of classes to time to the launch of Quilt Out Loud. I’m finally releasing the pattern for Smart Is Beautiful in the book, so I thought I might as well film a class to go with it.
So, there’s still work to be done, just not the work I was expecting to do. You know what they say: When life gives you lemons take them, everybody likes lemons…
So, I’ve kinda taken a sewing break since I finished making all the quilts, doing all the writing, and ever so much editing for Quilt Out Loud, and now I’m really starting to get the itch to get back to sewing. Breaks are great – I really needed this one – but they have the danger of becoming stops and I’m starting to feel the temporal distance between me and the last time I sat down at the sewing machine.
Bow I haven’t been idle; there have been ever so many things to take care of, not least of all the whole back to school thing for the children. But all of that is starting to feel like an excuse to stall. I think I may be a little intimidated by some of the work I did for Quilt Out Loud (and Quilting Rhythm for that matter) so getting started again is a little daunting. What do you do next when you just did the best work of your life?
Hence the real reason for the break, it has given me some time to reflect and figure out then next moves, the next projects. I think I have one, and I think it will be good, but still I am a little tentative. I think I may have let my break last too long and I’ve put too much pressure on the next project to be even better than what came before.
I need a hobby, something to get me back into making again, but alas I don’t really like making stuff for the sake of making. I like quilts because each of my quilts feels like it has a purpose, a reason for existing, and that gets me over the proverbial hump. I suppose I just need to get the children the clean up the Lego from my studio floor and just sit down and go. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself.
So, I seem to be collecting Dr Martens now. I had to retire two pairs of boots due to extreme wear, but have now replaced those with four (soon to be five) pair. Add those to my basic black boots and we have a collection. I think I might start playing an Instagram game: Which Docs Today? Gotta do something when you have an abundance of shoes…
I love when Fall really kicks in; that means we can throw two quilts on the bed instead of the solo quilts we use in the summertime. Part of it is that I love the weight of two quilts; it is somehow different from just one heavy quilt. I think it is the knowledge that I can throw one quilt off if I get too warm without losing the comfort of the other.
At the moment we have one quilt that I made and one quilt that was made by my wife’s grandmother. I love the confluence of the two quilts, the intergenerational connection that is made. We, obviously, have very different styles, but we both clearly love(d) the practice of quilting.
I feel lucky to have my quilts share a bed with quilts from two generations before mine. Not only is she a presence through her quilt but is doubly present through the shared our shared practices. Though I hardly knew here I feel a kinship of materiality.
That is one of the things that really interests me about the quilting community; it is not first of all a community of personality. Rather it is born of that shared materiality, the fabric and cloth we all hoard and use, collect and give away in the form of a quilt. We come together because we love quilts and the practice of quilting and from that common bond we form friendships.
Pardon the wordplay, but we are stitched together by our common practices no matter how diverse in form and meaning our quilts may be. I am lucky enough to be proud of and wowed by the people who have befriended me in the quilt world. I have learned so much from these friends and hope I have leant a little knowledge along the way as well. Regardless, I look forward to the next time I will see them.
But I suppose I’ve gone off on a tangent. Perhaps I’ll just wrap up. A grandmother’s quilts are irreplaceable, quilting friends are to be treasured, and Fall is my favorite time of year.
I like bars; there’s a certain anonymity to them. They are places I can be around people with no obligation to talk to them. That’s the thing; I hate being alone, but I don’t actually like other people.
So, I usually find a seat at the end of the bar, pull out my laptop, and do one kind of work or another. I’m my most productive in bars; I’ve written all of my books in bars. I did most of the work for both of my MFA theses in bars. Most of my quilts have been designed on a laptop in a bar.
I’m comfortable in bars, in a way I am not in coffeeshops. Coffeeshops live in hushed tones for the most part, while there is always the potential for a raucous outburst in a bar. There is a certain tension in a bar over just where the vibe is going to go, who the next person to enter will be.
I also like the subtle interactions that are always going on, the glances, that guy three seats down who keeps giving me the side-eye. There is always something going on, even in the quietest of bars. I think that’s what I like: there is simultaneously nothing and too much going on. I easily can be distracted if I want to but can readily block it all out as none of it is of any real importance.
A bar is like a little anti-world, a laces where nothing really changes despite constant change. I guess that is true about the world at large as well, but there are actually lives at stake in the real world. In the bar the big risk is a hangover (not that I drink enough to worry about that).
I love the first page of a book, the inside title page. It sets up the whole book, tells you what kind of aesthetic experience you are going to have. A generic first page says a lot about a book; it reveals a certain lack of attention, of concern. Every book deserves a little bit of love, extra attention on its first page, even it reverts to straight block text thereafter.
I love my first page.
I love how the text from the quilt blends with the text added to the page to create a level of uncertainty in the visual hierarchy. I love the slightly awkward white boxes behind the title text, alluding to cut paper. And the diagonals of the quilting and quilt text against the horizontals and verticals of the digital layout. Essentially, I love it top to bottom.
And as much as I love the first page; it just gets better from there. It remains consistent with that first page but expands and grows as you progress through the book. I can’t wait for you to see it.
I am currently available for virtual workshops, lectures, and trunk shows. At this time I am offering several workshops ranging from the technical to the highly conceptual. I can be booked for one-day or weekend workshops as fits your needs. I am amenable to both online and in-person events.
For more information, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org