A few things you should know.
I am not God. I am a seeker just as you are. We are all on this journey together.
While we are all traveling down the same road, some of us are further along in the journey—Hence some of us are teachers and some of us are students. It is good to tell yourself this when you enter a new space of learning.
We all learn from each other. I learn from you. You learn from me. In fact, by the end of our time together, we may discover that you are further along the path than I am. You, instead of me, are the teacher. This is OKAY. We find our teachers and our students in the most unusual places. The point is to find them, identify them, and learn or teach with them.
Check your ego at the door. Open up your center to pain and process, to making and stitching, to vulnerability. It is in this space that the greatest works are made. It will all happen if you are open. Say yes to this.
It is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.
I cannot know what you do not tell me. I will be listening and watching to learn about where you are as a student, and where you want to go. I will be looking at the work you put on the wall. I will be listening to what you say about your compositions. I will be observing your process—by process, I mean the WAY you build a quilt. I will be watching your body language and expressions for feedback and understanding. And I may get it all wrong.
Floundering happens. And when you are floundering, I am failing. We are in this difficult moment together.
I will frequently tell you things that you will not hear. I will tell you them again, and I will tell you them again. I will tell you things through images and words and actions. Trust me and eventually it will stick—you will hear and see what I am saying.
Construction is an issue that must be contemplated at EVERY step of the way. I will say that again. Construction is an issue that must be contemplated at every step of the way. It is one thing to have a vision, it is something else entirely to build it. Adjustments and adaptions will be made and the sooner you embrace flexibility, the further along your journey you will travel. You can also choose water colors or acrylics—construction is not a problem with these mediums.
We are building the surface. Connecting bits together with the dream of making something whole and beautiful. Starting from scratch we stitch into the unknown. Be fearless with your sewing machine. Be mindful with your iron. Be loose with your rotary cutter.
Piece work involves color, pattern, and repetition along with the craft of cutting, stitching, and pressing to perfection. We must hold all of these things together at the same time. This is a lot to carry. Practice will make it easier.
Not every idea will bare beauty. If you can, try not to think of these compositions as failures or mistakes. Instead consider them to be new knowledge and potential.
It is okay to stare at your quilt for a very long time. It is fine to walk away and return. It is perfectly acceptable to steal, borrow, and manipulate your materials—but please do it with honesty and respect for those who have traveled this road before you.
Like I said, I’m not god. I am a seeker, and these are just a few notes from my journey.
PS- These images are from the workshop Abstraction of Place held June 16-20 2017 at the Wrangell Mountains Center.
My students went deep and the results were truly amazing. All three participants were beginning art quilters, and their work blew me away. Mark your calendars–I will be doing this again out here in McCarthy in June 2019.
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Thank you Grandma Patt. I hope you will join us next time. much love.
I am DEFINITELY adding this to my calendar for next year. Same dates?
Kelly- I meant to say 2019! I am hoping to offer this workshop every other year out here in McCarthy, Alaska. Maybe I will get invited to teach at the Valdez Quilt Festival and we can meet up there. That is always wonderful event. Are you in Alaska? If I know where you are, I can share my relevant teaching info with you. Thank you!
I live in Tennessee and could easily travel to Paducah to see you in the fall, but the Alaska experience sounds so phenomenal and unique that I want to save my pennies for that. I will certainly keep in it mind for 2019!
I would be really interested in attending any classes you might teach in Valdez — I’m only about two hours north of there. I had hoped to make it to McCarthy last weekend..but wasn’t sure about transportation out there those dates. 🙁 Any idea when you would know if you’ll be teaching? Thanks!
Christine- the Valdez Quilt Festival happens every other year. The next time will be in September of 2018. I will keep you posted. I taught there in 2016 and they like to have new teachers, so they may or may not invite me back next year. We need to keep our fingers crossed. Either way, I think you would enjoy the festival. The committee always brings a great rooster of teachers!If you decided to come out to McCarthy in 2019 for the workshop then, contact me and I can help you with the logistics of getting here. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
Beautifully written and deeply felt.
Thank you Martha! I hope you enjoyed your Solstice!
Oh, yes! It seems to me we get the most out of life when we can be flexible and open to experimentation and new learnings. But that can be hard!
You so right. But it is hard to do. Open up. Open Up.
Oh, Maria, I so want to do this! How exciting!!
Deborah- The first time I taught Abstraction of Place in McCarthy, I did do surface design. Maybe you can join us next time and be a guest teacher!
Your writing is beautiful and inspirational. Your writing makes me want to sew.
That is the highest compliment ever. Thank you Ivy!
Construction is an issue that must be contemplated at every step of the way. Oh boy is that true. I just ran into a construction wall tonight on something new I was trying out. I’m still not sure what the problem was!
I like to sketch as I am building it helps me see the construction lines. I also take photos and print them out so that I can draw on the “quilt” to see where my stitches lines work best. And there is always the partial seam which I avoid if I can! I hope your composition came out alright!
It looks like the workshop was fantastic! Thanks for your images and words.
Thank you Carrie! I hope you are having a good summer. It looks like I might be back Berkeley in the fall. I will keep you posted!
I’ve been contemplating what my goals are for your class at Sisters. When you wrote about staring at the quilt, I cringed. That is such a tough part for me. I stare, but don’t know what to do next. Is it unbalanced, chaotic, and unfocused? Or is it modern improv?
Thank you! It’s been more frenetic, but better overall than the Spring.
Oooh, please do let me know. I hope to take one of your classes.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy your time on the road!
Kristi- I am so glad you are taking one of my classes at Sisters! We will do amazing things together. Looking at your own work in a semi-public setting is hard work. I will help you. It is one of things we will talk about–how to look at our work and make it better. Please bring this topic up if I for some reason do not. Looking forward to meeting you!