Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A maker's musings

So we're into the deep freeze up here in Winnipeg,
and in the depths of the creative season on the Canadian Prairies.
My city has vibrant and creative cultural communities--
writers, musicians, artists, artisans--
and lots of people say its because of a long winter where we have time to perfect our art or craft.

I certainly sew and quilt more in winter than in summer
and my creative output often prompts the remark:
You get so much done!
or I can't believe how much you make!
or another variation of that.

I don't want to appear defensive,
but why do I have to defend making stuff?
I've been doing it since I learned to sew doll clothes at age 6
on my mother's new Elna Supermatic,
I've had really productive times
and times that are less productive,
but face it, I'm a maker.
I also hear the subtext of their remarks that they don't have time to quilt.
I hear that it's not important to them to take time,
and maybe even that I have nothing better to occupy my time with.

Do musicians and artists and novelists get those kind of comments?
I don't think anyone is telling Miriam Toews or David Bergen,
two award wining writers from Winnipeg,
that they like their books, but  (sigh) they don't have time to write. 

I like turning bits of fabric into something
and touching fabric
and figuring out how to make an idea in my head come to life.
My son is studying engineering, and taking courses on design
and reverse engineering, and material properties,
and project management. 
Those are all skills quiltmakers have.

But I'm not despairing. Just wondering.

I'm energized by making stuff
and I like sharing my makings with others.
But I'm tired of the comments about my output.

One answer is I have a really fast sewing machine and I know how to use it.
Another is that I have 50 years of making stuff,
so my hands are practiced at what they do.

Maybe it's just the speed of social media
and how quickly a finished project can be shared with the world.
That's why I'm not posing this question on Instagram,
where I have followers not interested in quilts (gasp!)
but here in Quilt Blogland,
where only quilters hang out because they care about making.

I love being a maker.
I don't want to feel guilty about being fast or good or prolific.
Makers gotta make, right?

What do you make of my makers's questions?


Kathy S. said...

You definitely don't have to defend yourself to me. I LOVE looking at all the eye candy on your blog! I love the way you take scraps and make them into something beautiful. Your wall hanging about snow is adorable. Love how you used all those strings and alternated black strings. Keep sewing!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I get the same kind of comments and side-eye looks -- I gave up trying to explain myself and just tell the commenter/looker "makers gotta make" or "making is my sanity-saver" and let them wonder. Makers get it - others never will. For the fun of it, ask them how many hours they spend reading/warching tv/ eating out with others/shopping for entertainment/ etc and let them realize you choose to use your time making instead of on those less productive activities. Here's to making because we want to!!

Jean said...

It doesn't matter what others say. When you have the heart of a maker - you make. It's a beautiful thing. We savor our fabric, the yards, the fat quarter and most especially - the scraps Oh, the beautiful scraps! I remember when I bought that fabric, where I was, who I was with, what I planned to make with it. And there in your hand is the tiniest bit of that fabric that is left and you enjoy your memories and then get to make something new with it. Beautiful and magic. Let us makers make!

Sue said...

I mostly make comforters for relief, lots of them, and regularly get comments about how many, and how fast, and do you ever stop to sleep, and on and on. It’s what I do, because I love to sew and make, and because the need is neverending. So, evidently I’m a member of your club as well! Sisters gotta hang together!

Rebecca said...

When someone comments you You just grin and say "Yep!!! ain't it grand!) or a polite Canadian version of the same .

P. said...

I'm a slow maker, but maker nonetheless. I often marvel at what others "get done" in a day (week/month), but for me it's a slow and not-always-so-steady process. The fun of it for me lies in the gearing down of my pinball brain and focusing on the pieces or the step at hand. However, I seem to have a 90-minute window before I get antsy about doing something else--laundry, cooking dinner, working. I think we all work in "mysterious" ways in our craft. I may very well have said to a fellow crafter words to the effect of "you get so much done," but it's only because I do marvel at the different process and outcomes. Love seeing your work Brenda!

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

Bravo for saying all of the things I feel too!!! I hate having to justify anything. We all make decisions for our own lives and my decision is to feed my artistic soul (with fabric, color, and the therapy they provide)

Barb said...

great post and thoughts on being passionate about your craft and art form.
I love your winter quilt! it just makes me smile everytime!
you go ! Keep making and making yourself happy.

Louise said...

This post really resonates with me! I'm a prolific quilter and I love it. There are always a few that ask that question, and it's annoying. But really, it's about them and their needs and insecurities, so I try to let it roll off my back. Let's hear it for the makers that make, full speed ahead!

patty a. said...

I say thank goodness you can whip something out! I remember when I was a kid it took me an entire summer to make a simple apron for 4-H so that I could enter it in the fair. Good grief if I didn't get faster at sewing I would have given it up! Quilting and making stuff is what we do! At least we have something to show for our time instead of hanging out in a bar or playing golf! LOL!!! I love that piece you made that is the first picture posted.

Sharon said...

Yep, makers gotta make! I'm not speedy or prolific at all, just slow and
hopefully steady. Making quilts and other things soothes my brain and my soul. I love fabric and colors and making. I might marvel at your output, but only in admiration! I love your work! Don't feel you need to justify yourself to others. I used to feel that way, but now I realize it's their issue, not mine. Keep on making!!

PrairiePeasant said...

Yup, it used to bother me too, because we all have the same amount of time to do with as we choose. Now I choose to see it as an innate need to create, it's often meditative and calming, keeps me sane. There's so much more to creativity than just the output. If only they could see that.

Elle said...

You do NOT have to justify your art to anyone. Quilting is an art. For many of us, it's therapy. I work a stressful 50+ h/week job. I NEED the outlet that quilting creativity offers me. My quilts go to family and my charity group.

ARTISTS MUST CREATE! I've been questioned about hubby's expensive woodwork shop. "Hey, he's not hanging out in a bar" is my usual response :-)

Nancy J said...

Hi,I hopped to you from Wanda's link, I would hope that you keep on making, designing, and having a whole lot of pleasure in giving. How can anyone think time is wasted when sewing, designing, quilting and adorning. This is part of who you are, I tend to sew a bit, quilt a bit too, talk a lot, but never think I am wasting time, in listening to whoever I talk to is all a huge part of my life.My man does woodwork, and I never think he is wasting time at all. Love your needle cases, and the fronts are all so delightful. Fond greetings from a warm spot down in New Zealand.

Peach said...

I love what you’ve said! My least favorite comment is, “who is that for?”, when I’ve made it just to make it. I want to see what it looks like in real,life - outside my head. When asked for my occupation, I reply, “quilter”,:but now I think I like the term “maker” better. Thank you.

Stephanie from Ontario said...

You nailed it all! Thanks!

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