For over five years I’ve intended to start a hands-on project – one that doesn’t involve a keyboard. Too often I’m focused on reading, writing, planning, and thinking – mostly in front of a laptop. So, even before my dissertation was finished, I started a project to create five small landscape quilts related to each of the pilgrimages included in the research. These would be visual images recreated in fabric that I would choose, feel, cut. A tangible product that would get me out of my head and away from a screen. I could picture the final quilts hanging on my wall and as illustrations in a book about these journeys. I had the story in mind; getting there has been the challenge.
Yes, it’s been five years. Fabric still waits in a basket on top of a bookcase. Many things have happened in the intervening time, but not much to engage that mind-hands interaction. My excuses are many:
- Unscheduled days don’t appear in the calendar.
- I’m unsure of what to do.
- I’ll make a mistake.
- I’ll never finish.
- This is a waste of time.
So the basket has remained closed.
Recently I met a woman who creates landscape quilts and thought that she could spur my latent interest. I reached out and spent over an hour at her house looking at fabric and learning some basic techniques. After sorting through the fabric scraps she gave me, I added them to the basket, saving it up for that perfect day. Yet, I remained afraid to step out into the unknown space of working on this quilt. Would I keep the possibility stored away, or do something about it?
I had the story I was working towards and now at least one other person with me on this journey. So, I eventually I took the basket down and read some how-to books. I was in the preparation phase of the pilgrimage, gathering the necessary equipment to bring along – pins, fabric, scissors. I started by first creating the canvas. I like that. I’ll be working on a canvas just like an artist. The first hours, though, were a bit of a failure. But I had started. I’d stepped into a place where I’m moving towards the final destination of completing these quilts. It seems a long way off, but there is hope – and I think I’ll learn much along the way.