This has been a transitional week for me. For months, my work has been focused on a particular set of goals that had to be met.
I had complete justification for hunkering down and not leaving the studio for hours on end. I was a monastic quilter. And while getting up at five in the morning is never fun for me, the jettisoning of all other obligations was pure bliss.
This week has been about bills, appointments, meetings, obligations, cleaning, folding, cooking–all the drudgery of my life that has piled up around me.
Dealing with limited studio time always makes me grumpy. The truth is I like to work all the time.
On a regular basis, people comment on this, but they don’t all say the same thing.
Some people are impressed with my work ethic.
Others are appalled–”How can you spend SO MUCH time doing that? I’d go crazy.” This does, on a certain level, translate as–you, Maria Shell, are mental.
At first, comments like that, made me defensive and cagey. But as the years have gone by, I’ve become more confident in my work and my work habits, and I’ve learned not to take what is said about them too personally.
And I now know that most of the time when someone asks how long it took to make a particular quilt, they are usually asking out of admiration. I try to be honest, especially with those who are not familiar with the craft of quilt-making. It’s important that outsiders understand the skills and time needed to do this work.
In the early days, baby quilts and raffle quilts were my best excuses for justifying my obsession. I have found this to be a common behavior for makers in general. On the surface, it looks like we are being generous by making things for others, but on the inside we are really just feeding our deep need to create.
This is a positive–in that it is a way for many makers to justify the time they spend in creative expression. But it is also a negative–as many makers feel that they can’t or shouldn’t claim making on a deeper level. They are afraid to dig deep and grow original creations that do not have a final destination beyond the actual act of creating.
I am not pointing any fingers here, but I do know this comment will resonate with some of you. If it does, I challenge you to be bold, to be an unapologetic maker.
I won’t lie. Even now, when most of my work is about art, I still question the purpose of all this making. Why am I doing this? These are my answers.
I experience great joy in making and sharing my work. Simply put, it makes me happy.
My work is a series of puzzles about color, pattern, repetition, and construction. If I don’t keep trying to solve these puzzles, I will arrive at my death bed with a feeling of great sorrow, knowing I did not lead the life I supposed to lead.
I know there is larger meaning to all of this stitching, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet, and the only way to get to that meaning is by diligently sitting in front of my sewing machine.
And my final answer, which is sort of lame but totally honest, is because I have to–not for money, but for sanity.
I know that in the next few days, I will cross all kinds of necessary tasks off of my to-do list, and once this is done, I will be back to making things. Cause life works that way.
Next up, Ozzy’s dental appointment.