Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hey Jude - Let it Be!

Have no fear of perfection...you'll never reach it. 
                                                                     Salvador Dali

Just reading a blog by Amy Garro at 13 Spools talking about a mistake in a quilt.  It made me think,,,I don't believe there is a piece I've ever made that doesn't have a flaw in it somewhere! 

Not that I'm bragging, of course.  

My goal, absolutely, is perfection.  But so far, I've never been able to attain it.  And somewhere along the line I realized I would have to settle for the aspiration of perfection, but the reality of not-so perfect.

For example, yesterday I was finishing a commissioned piece that so far had gone really well.  I literally was putting the final touches on the quilting, and I could not get the thread to cooperate (metallic thread, enough said).  It didn't look horrible, but it wasn't - well, perfect.   After pulling out the stitching three times in one area, it was becoming clear to me that perhaps I was setting my standard too high.  I took a few deep breaths and decided that if the next time, if it was good enough, I would just leave it.  Unable to resist trying to fix it, I tweaked** it one more time, but (this is the key, here) I had already accepted that it wasn't going to be exactly the way I wanted it to be... as you may have guessed, this time, it worked just fine and it looked exactly the way I wanted! 

Wish I could say this happens all the time, but nope, it doesn't.  Sometimes, I really do have to live with imperfections in my work  -  because, Man! these things are handmade.  Most of the time I'm flying blind, I have an idea and a sketch and if there's a pattern I made it myself and well - I'm not a machine, I'm a person, and boy oh boy am I imperfect!

Don't get me wrong I still (desperately, intensely) want to make my quilts perfectly!  I mean, everyone else seems to, why can't I?  The answer, silly me, is that everyone else doesn't!  I just don't see their mistakes the way I see mine.  Or sometimes I do see mistakes, but it doesn't negate the beauty of the piece or even really impact it at all - they're just there. Or maybe they have made mistakes but have been able to "fix" them so they aren't noticeable. (I was absolutely liberated one time by my friend Karen Kemp telling me about some class she took where the lady, a reknowned artist, actually said she uses SHARPIE markers to correct mistakes.  Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you, I said SHARPIE!)  

Of course, my favorite mistakes are the ones that actually enhance the beauty, as in "Oops - I accidentally made this piece even better!"    It does happen on occasion, you know, what a boon!  That's one we pretend we did on purpose. ( wink, wink) "I meant to do that!". 

Having said this, I think everyone has a certain line of what is acceptable and what isn't. After re-doing the binding on one of my favorite pieces recently I somehow ended up with a bare spot where the batting wasn't covered on the back!  EEKS!  This is completely unacceptable.  I had to take the entire area of binding off (again) and add a piece of fabric to cover it.  Excellently, I don't think one could tell at all now where that happened, and I'm sure not telling, but the point is, it had to be fixed.  On a different piece, there is some very small quilting that didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to, but I left it in.   It's white on white, and really not all that noticeable and it would damage the fabric to try to pull it out and I just don't want to, either.   Does it irk me?  I would be lying if I said it didn't, a little.  But the goal is to Let. It. Be.

I have a pact with myself that I will do everything I can possibly do to make my work as perfect as I possibly can. If there is something I think I can fix, I will try to do so. And - here's the challenge for me - I strive to be calm and positive while I do it, too, while I do it. It takes a lot of self talk sometimes.  It goes something like  this:

"OH &^#($@!  What the *&##%!?  How did that happen?"

"Remember Carrie, you are trying to do the best you can do - it's worth it to try to figure this out, now DON'T GET FRUSTRATED CARRIE!   If you are getting mad you have to stop NOW!"  

"But," whines my mind's I,  "I don't waaanna to stop!"

"Okay, then you will CALM DOWN!" (deep breath, deep breath) 

"Alright I'm calm, let's do this, bi-atch!"

As I've said before, I want to create with a happy, positive vibe with my art, and I believe that comes not just from the design, but from the attitude of the creator, too - to bring joy, it must be created with joy.  And that includes when something goes wrong, too.  (Which happens to me pretty much daily.)

So not only is my art a daily practice for being present, it's also a daily practice in tolerance. Because sometimes we can fix mistakes, sometimes we can cover them up and sometimes...well, sometimes, we just have to --


Here is a photo of the one with the bald spot - close up, even.  I think it's fine, except for the stuff sticking to the back of the quilt - need to get out my lint brush, methinks!

**I had been using clear monofilament as the bobbin thread, thinking it was the same consistency as the metallic, but I switched back to quilting thread and Viola!  Perfect stitches!

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