Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Is Your Stash Holding You Back?

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

studio 1

I have spent part of the day reflecting on the last year and part of it running around after my grandsons! A great way to end the year if you ask me. One thing I did this year that was scary big was to face down my stash. It was crazy huge, it was everywhere, refusing to be contained to it's allotted shelf space and it was bogging me down!

I have been quilting seriously since about 1988. That is 26 years of stash building! I had kids flannels and prints, civil war reproduction, William Morris, Kaffe Fasset, florals, plaids and striped fabrics. There was also the healthy collection of Aboriginal, African, Japanese and Indonesian fabrics (new and vintage) that I had so carefully been curating. 

Every year I set aside a day to go through my stash, get rid of stuff I won't use anymore and spend time re-organizing and folding it all. I find it satisfying to create order of the mess and it makes me happy to pet all my fabrics and think about new projects and possibilities. However, when I got ready to do that earlier this year I got this heavy sense of dread in the pit of my belly! I needed to do it because it was a mess, falling off the shelves and couldn't find anything but I found myself dreading the entire process this year. 

I had a sit down with myself, a cup of tea and some cookies. Cookies always help when confronting any realities that I am avoiding. I am no longer a real quilter! I still love most of those fabrics but with the possible exception of some baby quilts for future grandchildren I had no desire to stitch bed quilts anymore...and even quilts for grandchildren is questionable! Wow! I was going to need a lot more cookies.

I allowed myself a short period of mourning the passing of this stage of my stitch journey and then got to work. I grabbed some bins and bags and stripped the shelves of all the commercial printed fabrics. I kept out about a dozen pieces of vintage ethnic fabrics but everything else went in the bins. A few times I was tempted to keep a delicious specimen in my favorite shade of chartreuse but after fondling them a few minutes I put them in the bins with a sigh and another cookie.

I called my good friend Cat to come by and pick up the piles of fabric goodness. I knew that she would put it all to good use making charity quilts and things for her guild annual auction. Suddenly I felt as if a huge weight was lifted.  I had empty shelves! Well, at least they were empty for a few hours.:-) I quickly filled them up with all the stuff that was on the floor and needed a home. 

It was hard to release all those years of collected possibilities and quilt dreams but giving up all those future quilts meant that I was free to make more art, open to new directions in my work and I could see even more possibility than before. 

Now, I am not saying you should chuck out all your carefully curated fabric collections but you may want to set aside an afternoon to weed out that which no longer suits you. What is weighing you down? What is preventing you from stretching your creative muscles? Get rid of the fabrics, beliefs and assumptions that may be holding you back and getting in the way of seeing the wide vista of possiblities that 2015 will bring.

 

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What's In a Name?




Art~Craft, Studio~Sewing room~Craft room, Artist~Crafter~Dabbler…what do you call yourself? What we name ourselves and our spaces is important...it is one of the ways we tell the world what is important to us. When I decided that I wanted to become more serious about my passion for stitching and art I thought I should change the name of my sewing room to studio. Easy right? NOT! I felt so pretentious calling my messy thread covered room a studio. It actually took me 2 years to make that change. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the title of ‘artist’ for another 2 years.

What is the big deal about the title artist? Why have we elevated the title ‘artist’ to an award we bestow upon a small percentage of our population? Who gets to decide who is eligible to be an ‘artist’? Back in the middle ages many things we consider art today were thought of as craft…painting was no different an occupation than a cobbler. During the Renaissance painters and sculptors got a boost up the ladder to join poets and musicians as ‘artists’. The art academies later elevated these media to the status of ‘fine art’. More recent movements in the art world are bringing art back into the hands of the masses and changing the way we look at and define art. Has the pendulum traced its longest period? I hope so!

Everything in nature seeks balance and I think we will see more acceptance in the art world as we as individuals balance art and technology…even combining our art and technology. The art~craft debate will slowly die off as we allow the creator to define which of their creations are art and which are craft. When I think about the future of art in all the different media and forms I get so excited. One day, we will look back and laugh that we even had such silly arguments over art and craft…sort of the way we laugh at the clothes we wore in high school.

Art is nourishment for the human spirit. We are all born to create stuff and we are all better humans when we do just that. Go make the world a better place…go make some art in your studio!
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