20 May 2012

like a roadmap

I've been talking about the purging and cleaning activities. I've got piles everywhere, ready to be mailed out to some people and others going to a garage sale and some that well, just need to go to the the craft cemetery in the sky.

My first reaction was, "Holy cow, what an incredible amount of junk." But the more times I look through things and I sort them, I realize I'm really tracing back my history.

When I first began in fiber arts, I started with crazy quilting. I remember the ad I got in the mail advertising a brand new magazine that was about to launch called Quilting Arts. All about crazy quilts, I didn't hesitate to subscribe. I still have the premiere issue, its something I decided I wanted to keep because it feels so symbolic.

Then there is the bizarre pile of fusible web I accumulated when I discovered that I could "glue" fabric down with an iron. That was the beginning of art quilting.

I also found one of my first sketchbooks. There is an entry in it that I wrote after going to an IQF. It was kind of an epiphany, here's part of what it said:

I've finally realized I'm not a true art quilter. I walked through those exhibits and stood in awe of these massive, heavily stitched quilts. Those artists carved out faces and scenes in such realism and beauty. Even the abstract pieces had a quality that I know I'll never achieve.

And I'm excited to know this about myself. But what does that make me? Where do I fit in? I wonder if I'll ever answer that question...

I'd spend years trying to find an answer. Its still not fully answered and I know now that that's the way it should be.

So all this stuff. These things that, to someone who isn't an artist, look like an incredible accumulation of things, is so much more. Its all the necessary steps that got me from the first step to where I am now.

I'm happy to be passing them along, sending them on to new homes so that other people can find the excitement I felt when I discovered them for the first time.

What about you? How did you start in fiber arts and is it very different from where you are now?


mary said...

oh gosh, what a great post and question!
i started with a traditional quilt class over 20 years ago and i felt restless in it. horrible teacher, boring pattern. and after meeting you and working for you and us forming our great fiber arts groups i realized it was the "pattern" part of creating that always bugged me.
the freedom to be able to make whatever i wanted without written instruction, but rather the suggestion of ideas really was satisfying to me.
after a class we had on a retreat with pamela allen, i felt even more ability to create the way i wanted.
who knew that learning about glue sticks would be so life changing!
i look at work i did years ago and i really hate some of it...some i have tossed, others i keep as a reminder of where i have come from artistically and as my "road map" to where i am going!

Mia Bloom Designs said...

I agree with Mary...great post and question. After I was unable to make a living as a textile artist, I stumbled around trying to find a creative outlet while working in an office environment. Saw an art quilt exhibit and thought it was interesting. Recently, I feel that my art has evolved into mixed media. Loving where the journey is taking me.

Jeannie said...

Great post! I have been going through boxes. The boxes were my Gram's and two Great Aunt's. It is like a living history of these creative women. They were great friends and learned together. I can see where one loved an activity more than her friends. I view my journey the same. I started out sewing clothing, knitting, and crochet. Traditional quilting was embark on in my early twenties. Then I found Melanie Johnson and Melanie Testa's blogs. Wow! I wanted to learn how to express myself so freely. I am curious by nature, so there are supplies for all the activities that light a spark in me. I don't think I'll ever quite learning and I am okay with that. I don't need to earn a living creating. I just want to learn and master more techniques. Creating makes me happy and that is a good thing!

tiedyejudy said...

I never did learn much about traditional quilting. But I got into tie-dye in '97, and have done lots of dyeing ever since. In 2007, I took a class from Melly Testa on a number of surface design techniques, and began my journey in Art Quilting. I also follow a number of blogs by fiber artists, and derive inspiration from them to try different things. Meanwhile, the stash pile keeps growing! I did donate a bunch of items to a local thrift shop earlier this year, and really need to go through the pile and cull out more! Thanks for sharing your story...

Thea Belecz said...

I started out with traditional quilting while a student at Michigan State. Touching the fabric and working with it (all by hand at that time) soothed my frayed nerves and helped me focus on my studies. One day, I realized I would never make points that weren't buried and I didn't care. I also didn't care about tiny perfect hand quilting stitches. By then, I was living in remote central Idaho (still there) and there were no fiber art groups (still aren't many and none where I live) so I was on my own. Took a few great workshops with Nancy Crow, Barbara Olson, Sue Benner, and I was on my way. Still have several of my first attempts and still hang them - I like them. Now I have a lovely dedicated studio and sell most of what I create. I've come a long way and know I'll do and learn more. I love the process!

jspillane said...

Fantastic, inspirational blog