I have some material for years before I use it. I keep special pieces in a pile on my shelf, knowing someday they will be just what I need.
But there are sometimes when certain pieces of fabric can become more of a burden than an inspiration. One day I can just feel it and I know it’s time to give it away.
Most thrift stores won’t take fabric, but the Goodwill in Bennington, Vermont takes anything you bring them.
I’ve had a box of silky scarves that people have sent me over the years. The box got bigger and bigger as my collection grew. There were times I was convinced I wouldn’t use the scarves to I moved them to the attic for my next trip to Goodwill. But I was never quite ready to give them away. I moved them back and forth between the attic and my studio a few time.
Because every once in a while, I do have ideas for them.
One of those ideas, that came to me when I was in the Mumbai airport, was to piece them together and make a long drapey kind of vest. I even did a drawing of it in my sketch book.
Today I pulled the box of scarves out of the attic again.
I wanted to try making that vest. I sorted through the scarves looking for the colors that would work well together and finding the right sizes for what I had in mind. I made of pile of the scarves I had cut up in earlier attempts to make something else (I don’t even remember what it was).
I started pinning and sewing and at some point realized that I didn’t really want to make the vest.
I was doing it not out of inspiration or enjoyment but out of wanting to use the scarves. Sewing the silky fabric was difficult, as it slipped and stretched, puckered and pulled. And I didn’t even like the way the vest was coming together.
So I stopped.
Suddenly I knew, without a doubt, this was not something I wanted to do. The box of scarves had become a burden. A hindrance to creativity instead of an inspiration.
It was time for them to go. I packed the scarves back into the box, their next destination, Goodwill.
People often send me all kinds of fabric. Many times the fabric has meaning for them. It belonged to someone they loved or had been in their family for a long time. And I take that seriously, it’s what makes so many of my creations special and have feeling that doesn’t come with new store bought materials.
But I also feel the responsibility to do the fabric justice. And sometimes I can’t. That’s when I know it’s time for me to find a new place for it.
I wonder what will become of the scarves. If people will buy them to drape around their shoulders, or if an artist will see the whole box and find the inspiration in them that I couldn’t.