Sunday, October 10, 2010

one woman's hands...

I've been a crafter of one sort or another since I can remember. My mother was an artist - mostly oils - but I didn't seem to inherit the ability to draw or paint, only the desire to create. Macramé, weaving, quilting, crocheting, knitting - I've done them all with varying degrees of dedication and success, but I settled down to just one when I discovered crazy quilting. Judith Baker Montano, specifically. Here we are at a workshop around 2001, I think.

Her lush pieces, full of dreams and memories, intricate stitches, and lovely color combinations hooked me the first time I saw them. I dove in with a vengeance, collecting fabrics, fibers, buttons, and laces until you could barely squeeze into the craft room. And then I began to learn my way through the art of crazy quilting. Along the way, I learned to needle tat so that I could make just that perfect little bit of lace because I didn't happen to have it in the 47 boxes of lace stashed in the closet.

My early efforts were clunky, lacking both the personality and the complexity of Judith's, but I persevered and over the years became adept at wielding the finest fibers, the tiniest beads, and the thinnest needles to my satisfaction.  I met my good friend Julie when she hosted Betty Pillsbury at her house for a 2-day CQ workshop. Boy, was that ever fun. All day Saturday, crammed into Julie's family room, twelve of us sweltered in the heat wave San Diego was having that summer, learning from Betty, buying stuff from the store-in-a-suitcase she'd brought along, making friends with women we'd known only online until then. In the evening, we spread out into the kitchen and living room, all of us stitching on projects, talking and laughing, eating dinner together. Then we did it again the next day. That weekend remains one of the standout experiences of my life.

But gradually I developed osteoarthritis in my fingers, and by 2007 it simply hurt too much to stitch. Working those tiny needles and fine threads through several layers of fabric required more grip than I could handle, and I slowly stopped working on projects. For a while, I didn't really realize that I missed it so much. A year or so later, I got my yarn back out and resumed knitting and crocheting, branching out from scarves to mittens, hats, shawls. I enjoy that, but for me, it isn't very creative in that I'm following a pattern someone else thought up. I'm just a laborer, more or less. I'll have a lovely finished object when I'm done, but it just wasn't scratching my creative itch.

Anyway, somewhere not long ago, I came across a mixed media collage and it sparked my interest. it uses a lot of the goodies I collected during my CQ years, and the sky's the limit, creativity-wise. I reorganized my home office/craft room more efficiently, got rid of boxes and boxes of stuff I'd been hanging onto for no good reason other than I'm a pack rat, bought a few shelves, and now I'm set to go. I'm hoping this will be a pursuit that can take me creatively through my senior years.

It's good to be excited about something again.

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