Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Mice and Men

              I had the best of intentions: On day one  I was to look at the art; on day two, look at the shops, decide what items I want to purchase and weed out what I could not afford, and on the third day make my purchases.  All might have gone as planned except we ended up tweaking our strategy a little: We decided that instead of viewing all the art at once (It really was quite overwhelming – actually exhausting -  and we felt we couldn’t do them all justice)  we would go back and forth between the shopping booths and the art.  Admire the art for a couple of hours, look at the booths for a couple of hours…take a break and eat, then do it again.  Still, it was working; I didn’t buy anything on the first day, and I only bought one item on the second day.  I had seen most, but not all of the shopping booths by the end of the second day, and I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to buy from what I had seen, so I felt safe on the third day. 
            Little did I know that I was to experience a new phenomena  – one that I will call, the big finale.  On that third day, after I had coolly made my planned purchases, I discovered the Vogue booth, with hundreds of beautiful, colorful batik fabrics for half of what they normally go for!  I felt I would have been a fool to resist buying them, even though I had spent my allotment already.  “Okay,” I told myself, “You’ve spent your sum, but this really is a bargain!  Besides, I know I will use these fabrics!”   So I went ahead and bought them.  Later, we came across a booth we had missed with some of the most interesting designs I had seen in quite some time.  People were in a fabric frenzy in there– flipping through the stacks like they were dealing cards…even grabbing fabric from each other, and I knew that if I didn’t buy some of it, it would be gone, so, weakened  as I was from allowing myself to fall off the fabric wagon, I got that, too.  And that was it – I had taken my finger out of the dike and the material sprang forth.   
            The next day was Saturday, and we only had a few hours at the show before we had to leave.  We still hadn’t seen all the art, so we planned on viewing, and then leaving.   But then I got inspired by some of the pieces I had seen, and we still had two hours, so I decided I wanted to look for specific colors, and  suddenly we passed by the hand-dyes I am such a sucker for,  and the colors were so rich, and I was leaving soon, so I bought some of them, and then I (stupidly) visited the Vogue booth again with their darn half-priced fabrics -  and in the exact colors I was looking for, too…I ended up spending twice the amount I had planned.  I even had to go to the ATM to get more cash for food and incidentals. 
I’m so ashamed!**
            I’m also a little disappointed in myself because I did not remain entirely present and aware, which was my spiritual goal.  I know that I didn’t need to buy all I did;  I already have enough for many future projects, darn it,  but once the end was near, that part of me that is pure emotion took over and the result was, well, fabric gluttony.   I didn’t want to gain any fabric weight this year, but I piled the pounds on at the end.  Damn.
            My only consolation is that I already have ideas and designs in mind for every purchase that I made  - does that make it all better?  Probably not, but it makes me feel better, anyway.   

So for this year, I must give myself a failing grade (A, for avarice), but next year, I’m still striving for a Z (for Zen!)

**Not really, because I really am so excited and inspired by the stuff I got, but I should be - really!

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::, 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?