Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Propoganda Perspective

My son recently did a report on George Orwell for his the English class.  He read one of Orwell’s essays on language and how it can be used to mislead the masses.  It got me thinking about the Houston Quilt Festival, which I will be happily attending next week.  I realized that attending the show can have some Orwellian consequences that are either completely unintended OR – they are diabolically designed by some evil geniuses who are trying to control me, you and everyone else who attends. 
One of the reasons I love to go to the festival is to see and be inspired by the astounding creativity of the artists.  Often I come home so excited that before I say hello to my family I am at my desk, busily working on my next project inspired by something I saw or some amazing fabric I came across.

But - there is danger lurking in the seemingly innocent rows of inspiration - it is the danger of thing-a-ma-bobs, doo-dads, and hootchies.  You know – it’s all the stuff that you see in the merchant section of the show. These items that seem so delightful in the glow of post-quilt viewings are often in reality items that you never actually use and can’t remember how to work once you get home.  The people in the booths cleverly demonstrate their ease of use, tell that they can simplify and save time and how they allow you to make the amazing creations they have on display,  and you actually believe you must have one or you’ll never be inspired again, but the truth is it’s really just the warm afterglow of viewing great art influencing your judgement - you may not truly be interested in making that particular type of quilt and the handy ” whatsit”  you need to make it will, in all probability, sit in your studio for years until you come across it one day and really cannot remember what it is or how to use it.  See what I mean about being mislead?  You are in actuality being influenced by the beauty of the creations you have viewed to buy a bunch of crap you don’t actually want!
I'm not saying all the gadgets or tools sold at the quilt show are useless; I’m sure all of them were invented in good faith and some of them really are handy, no doubt.  I’m just saying that it is good to be a little more scientific and less emotional when deciding what to actually purchase, especially after looking at the quilts on display.  I speak not in a preachy manner, but from experience.  I have been a victim of afterglow several times myself, and my mother, bless her enthusiastic soul, was one of the worst suckers for gadgets I ever saw.  Periodically I would help her clean out her studio and we often found items still in their original packaging (albeit covered with dust) and when I would question her about it, she either couldn’t remember buying it, or said “Oh yeah – I was going to use that to make that one quilt – oh I can’t remember, but it was really cool – just put it back, I’ll get to it later…” But of course, there was always some other new thingy, and most of them still sit dust-covered (now in my studio as Mother is no longer with us),  or have fallen off the shelf and broken, never to be used at all.    

This year I am on a short budget due to the fact that we are embarking on a new business venture (see my other blog:: cotton-pickingchickenblogger.blogspot.com), so I have devised a plan.  First, I am going to set myself a budget and take the amount in cash only. I am making a list of items to look for based on some designs I have planned beforehand, as well.   I will not even bring my credit card, so I cannot be tempted to use it.  On day one I will view the quilts, and view the quilts only.  The next day I will go through the booths and make lists of the booth numbers and what I think is interesting or what I want to buy (which is always a long list) as well as the price.  I will go over the list that night and see what exorbitant number I come up with and whittle it down to a more realistic amount, and on the third day I shall visit the booths again and make my actual purchases.  That way I won’t overspend or waste any money on things I will not use.  I’m going to stick to this plan no matter what.   I refuse to purchase another item I don’t really need just because of quilting propaganda.
Having said all that, of course I will be open to new innovations and ideas – part of the purpose of attending the festival is to get new inspiration, so I need to be a little spontaneous, right?  I'm not against being excited, I am merely attempting to NOT be mislead by the propoganda of the amazing art I will be viewing!  I'm trying to walk the line of inspiration frenzy and cool, clear-headed consumerism (which does NOT run in my family).  I’ll let you know how that goes when I get back – wish me self-control, okay?

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