On Finishing, and Creative Road Blocks

Fri Aug 7, 2009 at 11:11 am in Embroidery, Finished Projects, Quilting

Well, it’s done. I finally put the border on. Don’t know what you’ll think of what I chose – heck, I’m not sure about what I chose – but at the end of the day, it’s done. It even has hanging loops. And as a matter of fact, it’s hanging right now, in my office, above my computer screen. It’s hard for me, now, to just look at it without seeing every tiny or not-so-tiny stitch in it. I’m not sure I’ve been done with it long enough to see it as a whole. One thing, though – in my office, the gold in it positively glows like sunshine when I look up at it, even in fluorescent light. It’s a pleasing unexpected result.

Birch/Aspen Finished Wall Quilt

So, details.  The finished size is roughtly  24.5″ wide by 14.5″ tall.  Base fabric and binding: upholstery-weight woven  fabric remnants, cotton (mostly). Trees, flowers & hills: repurposed cotton/polyester blend pieces from a 1970s quilt kit, 4 prints and 2 solids. Embroidery: DMC cotton.  Stitching: mostly machine stitched with cotton/poly blend.

My machine refused to stitch through the corners since there were 9 layers of upholstery weight material to chomp through. I hate mitering, so this is not that.


So if you’ve made it this far into the post, allow me to go off on a tangent for a bit and talk about Merlin Mann. He writes at 43folders.com, among other things, and is well-known for writing and speaking about how to be more productive. He’s written about the Getting Things Done system of staying on task, focused and organized. That’s not really much my particular worry, but lately Merlin has veered off into something more interesting to me.  These days he’s talking about how to be more creative - because his productivity work led him to realize that that many people clutter up their lives and minds with endless distractions and excuses to avoid the act of being creative (a type of productivity).  People can’t even start that thing they’ve been wanting to do/make for so long for reasons that seem to make sense, but instead are excuses to avoid the possibility of failure and fear.  Internal voices that tell you you’re not good enough, what you want to do will inevitably suck, that pursuing it is ridiculous or childish, or that you don’t have enough time or space or … whatever.


Anyway, Merlin says it better than I, and he’s funnier than I am, so you can read his blog post about it or listen to the embedded recording of a talk he recently gave on the subject. I read it/listened and a lot of what he said resonated with me as I completed this little quilt. For me, making something like this is intimidating:  it incorporates techniques I am unsure about, features subject matter that is personal, has no pattern, was begun with only a general picture of how it would turn out, and when I started I didn’t even have all the fabric I needed.  I did the first small picture quilt for someone else, which made it easier, somehow. I had a deadline, too. So it took some of the stress away. This time, it was harder to begin, hard to finish, and hard not to stop halfway through and think, “This project stinks. What were you thinking? What are those color combinations, anyway? It’s all lumpy. Your stitching is awful. You’re never going to finish, it’s taking too long. No one cares anyway,” and finally “Your border looks terrible.”

But it’s like Merlin says, if you want to do something that’s important to you, and foster that creative urge, you have to start somewhere, and put one foot in front of the other, and not care about suckage and pitfalls and insecurities and your relative ability to do whatever it is you’re doing.  Your first attempt might be horrid. Then you do it again, and again, and again, until finally you’re doing what you wanted to do, and the act of doing and making has become more important than the fear.

The Scene

I say this rarely, but when I was very small I wanted, desperately, to be two things: an architect and an artist. Today I am neither one because when I was young people told me I wasn’t very good at math, geometry and drawing and I should really concentrate on things that weren’t analytical or creative. At 34, I still want to be an architect and an artist, and I know now that the people who told me I wasn’t very good were not very nice or correct, and that one day I will prove them wrong by doing a little of both.

And now it’s done. And hanging. And I can start on the next thing with less of the fear than I had when I began this one.

P.S. That’s my office, the top of my screen, the most boring wall color ever, and to the left my note to myself about the reality of the world:  absurdum ad infinitum.

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It turned out really, really well. Love it!

Kristina B — Sat Aug 8, 2009 at 11:55 am (link)

I think it looks great.

Jennifer — Sun Aug 9, 2009 at 8:02 am (link)

It is wonderful, I love it! Congrats! And boy do I know about putting up roadblocks…..

Diane — Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm (link)

wow, I adore this. Really amazing job. Beautiful trees. I don’t think it could have turned out more perfect!

urban craft — Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm (link)

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