I am not a quilter, though I aspire very much to be. The techniques I use when making stoles and table runners are not terribly different from those employed in making quilts, but what I lack is the technical proficiency that master quiltmakers exercise. I am not nearly as skilled as some of the artists whose work I saw last Friday at the Georgia Quilt Show.
Have you ever been to a trade show? They are amazing and overwhelming experiences.
I went to this show with my stepmother, a skilled seamstress and creative spirit herself. This particular show consisted of a few dozen displays of quilts, along with up to 70 or so vendors—-all bursting from booths with fabrics, tools and patterns specifically geared toward the quilter. The vendors sold tools as complex as long arm quilting machines (complicated, high-tech tools that look more like a drill than a sewing machine), as intricate as “fast turners” (simple yet elegant metal tubes that flawlessly create delicate strips of fabrics perfect for straps, stripes, borders, or piping), and as necessary as rotary cutters (those pizza-cutter shaped tools that almost every quilter uses daily).
Even more astounding, though, was the quilt show.
Dozens and dozens of quilts were on display for judging. I wish I had taken notes, rather than these clandestine pictures (I wish I could give credit to the amazing women and men whose hours of work went into these masterpieces). Some were small, others immense. All conveyed a level of intricate detail that boggles the mind… colors, quilting work, sizes of fabrics, shapes of fabrics… even the themes of some of the quilts were incredible to behold. How on earth does any one person do something this grand?
Needless to say, I was in awe. A religious experience of wonder and terror.
I felt like a child in a candy store, or (perhaps more accurately) an aspiring artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. How in the world could I ever think I could be so creative as the artists showing their work here? How could I ever be so precise? The colors were so beautiful; the designs, so targeted and joyful!
Good thing no one is expecting me to be a master quilter—I’ve only just started! Besides, no one says I can’t be a master quilter one day. We all know that intimidating feeling when we see others who are accomplishing something that is such a dear ambition for ourselves.
And I’m not joking when I say it was a religious experience… the best of religion is its ability to transport a person into a state of more poignant humanity: we feel our faults and our strengths more sincerely when we are fully human (that is to say, fully religious); we understand our hearts’ desires more acutely. We experience what it means to be but one small piece of a greater, more magnificent pattern. Pardon me, if I seem a little enraptured.
I encourage you to take part in something that terrifies you… just a little. It is the wonder and awe that tells us something dear about ourselves and our desires.