Sometimes someone will email me and ask if I will make them a specific pillow or wall hanging or quilt. I always get a little uneasy at such a request, because I’m not always good as saying no. Although by now I have enough experience to know that if I’m trying to make something that I don’t want to, I won’t enjoy doing it and I won’t do a good job.
If I don’t know right away if I want to do it or not, I usually don’t answer right immediately . I give myself time to think about it, sometimes a whole day. Then I see how I feel when I do think about it. If I get an ugh kinda feeling in my stomach when it comes to mind, I know not to do it. If it’s not an ugh, I do it. This doesn’t mean that if I say no to a request, that I think it’s an awful idea, it just means I’m not the right person to do it. I have my line and sometimes I’ve done a balancing act on it, a few times I’ve stepped over it. I like to believe that I’ve learned from those times.
One that comes to mind has to do with a piece of dog fabric and a potholder. Someone gave me a bunch of fabric with dogs on it. Some of it I enthusiastically used and some of it sat on my shelf. It was just ugly. I don’t remember how I got to this point, but one day I found myself at my desk piecing together a potholder and using this ugly dog fabric, just because it was dog fabric and I had it. I remember struggling with it, then finally throwing something together. I only made one, and put it in a pile of other potholders that were going in a show. When it sold, I was a bit embarrassed and glad that it was gone. I told myself that I would never do that again. I still cringe when I think about it. It’s not so much about the potholder itself, I’m sure whoever bought it, likes it (I hope). It’s more about me feeling like I wasn’t being honest, I wasn’t being authentic. My work is a piece of me going out into the world, if I’m not true to my work I’m not being true to me.
Above is a commissioned piece that I didn’t even have to think about. When I read the email from Anita, I immediately knew I wanted to do it. I understood and loved everything about it. It is so close to what I am already doing, I almost could have come up with the idea. Even with all that, it was still a challenge. The pillow has more words that images and most of the words aren’t mine. But I decided to see the words as pictures and fit them all into the design.
It’s a little different for me, and I had my doubts yesterday when I left the studio. But today I could see that it worked. And I’m glad to say I think the beautiful words will always stay with me and happy to share them with you.
“Just for today, I will not be angry
Just for today, I will not worry
Just for today, I will be grateful
Just for today I will do my work honestly
Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing”
Reiki mantra by Mikao Usui