Leave Perfection to the Gods

I was lucky enough to be in the Peddlers Room. All day I sat in front of hundreds of tiny hand carved chairs and wagons and animals. All made by one man. Jon took this photo of me working.

There seemed to be a theme for me at the Adirondack Museum yesterday.  It think it was summed up by Carol, from Delaware who said she was inspired to start something new and now worry about perfection.

So many of the people who talked to me said they didn’t sew or quilt, because they were afraid of making mistakes, of their work not being perfect.  I know traditional quilting has a lot of rules, but I think rules that stop people from creating should be broken.   I don’t care about stitch sizes or matching up seams, as much as I care about content.  So I spread my word to everyone who asked and would listen.  Just start working, if you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.  Using small pieces of inexpensive (recycled) fabric takes the pressure off or ruining what your are working on and gives you the freedom to experiment.  Play, don’t take it so seriously, and allow yourself to make mistakes, leave perfection to the gods.

And when I wasn’t preaching I was talking to everyone who came past my table.  And there was a steady stream of people, a few I knew, but most were new to me and my work.  I showed them how I sewed my words and images and  we talked about their work.

I got to meet Tess and her  sweet family and give her Neno’s Apron Quilt in person.  We found out we have a few things in common including sharing a birthday.  On woman told me how her husband was making her what he called a shack and she called a studio, outside of the house for her to work in.  He said she had so much fabric  he just wanted to get the spare room she was spreading out in cleaned up, but you could see from his smile that  building “the shack” was an act of love.  And I was thrilled to learn that Micaela, who curated the exhibit, found out about me by doing an on-line search.  That means I’m easy to find, and she liked my work.

The whole day was an affirmation of  my work.  I enjoyed every minute of it and only wished I had more time to walk around and see the other exhibitors.  And ,of course,  Jon was there with me.  Leaving to take photos and get lunch and giving me the perfect amount of support and encouragement.

It really was just a great day, dare I say perfect?


18 thoughts on “Leave Perfection to the Gods

  1. Maria, you are right about quilters not allowing themselves to make mistakes. I wish more would because then it would mean that they have allowed themselves to play and playing is creative. Following the rules, is not. Many quilters today are so technically advanced that it takes my breath way to see such perfection but then I think of the most recent piece, an Inuit outfit…amauti, trousers, boots and a veiled cape with a large hood and which I submitted to a juried exhibit. It was placed in the exhibit, somewhere off in the boonies, I’m told for I wasn’t there…and one critique that came back when it was returned was this: “It will never wash”. Now the outfit is made of 100% cotton muslin, beaded with clear crystal beads on the sleeves and trousers to represent melting snow flakes and the entire outfit is covered in a layer of white chiffon, then quilted through where the appliques are placed. It was never intended to be washed. I chuckled because it only reinforced what I’ve been wrestling with for years….quilters are TOO PERFECT. They are afraid of making a mistake. You could not have said it better.
    SandyP in Canada

  2. I am so thrilled you had a wonderful day, Maria! Those shows are so fun — my mom and I used to do them when she was alive (both crafters) and it’s so exhilerating being in one’s element, chatting with people, and sharing one’s talent. I love your “leave perfection to the gods” advice — it’s pure gold! Whenever I teach crocheting or knitting, so often the student becomes so anxious over counting stitches, a not-so-perfect color-change, etc, and I tell them, “just relax, and let those issues be secondary to your creative juices flowing…that’s what’s important. Those kinks can easily be fixed, too.”

    So as novice quilter, I now must practice what I’ve preached and thankfully, you’ve affirmed. Quilting can be so intimidating because of all the intricate measurements, rules, etc…..I’m finding, though, if I concentrate more on the artistry of the craft than the rules, amazingly the end result is so much nicer!

  3. I loved seeing the pictures you took and reading your commentary on the festival. Lucky people who were able to see you demonstrating your art!

    I will be going to Jon’s reading and book signing on 10/2 in Collegeville, PA. Am SO hoping that you’ll be with him. I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you both!

  4. Congrats on such a terrific day at the show! I only wish I could have come to see you work and meet you. Fear of not being perfect in my art has always held me back – perhaps now it won’t. Thank you!

  5. Roger, Rosette and I enjoyed stopping by to chat. The “Umbrella Girl” and cat potholder I purchased has joined one of your earlier potholders in my office. It’s in a place where people can’t help but see it and those who come in my office looking grim (or at least determined about something) can’t help but smile when they see it. Guess that old tune “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella” is true!

    This Adk Museum event was a great day for us, too. We met many new people, exchanged spinning and knitting ideas and best of all, we got to see so much creativity on display. It’s inspiring…I will be in NYC for a week Sept. 28-Oct. 5 and intend to bring along a couple of knitting projects to work on in various places (Madison Park!) while Roger sees his docs. I plan to visit the Union Square Farmers’ Market, too, to purchase some yarn from Catskill Merino Sheep Farm to make Roger some thrummed mittens. So many ideas – I need more time to make them all happen!

    Hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the Washington County Fiber Fest this coming weekend.

  6. Thanks for this! I know with my knitting I worry about a missed stitch, and my hubby always reminds me that I am the only one who will ever notice.
    Good advice for those who are considering anything new. Interestingly enough, a co-worker asked me today if I would make her a quilt out of her old band shirts. Not sure why she asked me (I suppose she thinks I’m crafty) but this gives me something to think about!

  7. Maria, I had not heard that expression until a few years ago. I sometimes write an article for a national quilt magazine in Canada. I wrote an article on the quilt police. Guess what?! It wasn’t accepted. All others have been over the years…guess I should not have made fun of the quilt police…(smile). I include myself in this…we quilters are too tight-arsed for our own good. Once a year I take a class in encaustic painting simply because I cannot control where the paint is going. It’s good for me to not be in control. (but not always easy !!)

  8. Hi Maria, What a wonderful post this is. Guess what? I think you’re a writer too.
    I think the Gods would be honored for you to call the day perfect. This day was a gift from God and the Angels just for you. 🙂

  9. I told my co-worker how I read this blog post after she asked me about the quilt, and she said “just do it, I won’t care if you mess up”.
    I will think about it, and if I do it I will be sure to let you see it!

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