ArtPrize Quilt Production Proves To Be Hair-Raising Experience

by jennifer

This is the ArtPrize quilt I’ve been working on. I’ve been hand stitching every day for the last several days, working late into the night to turn the 127 hexagon flowers made of fabric from donated neckties into something beautiful and agonizing over whether or not this is even possible.

I had some help getting those blooms stitched (Thank you!) and now I’m in the solo phase of the project and trying to stay sane. I’m mumbling to myself a lot and drinking ridiculous amounts of Pepsi. I love the challenge before me but realize every time I look in the mirror that this adventure comes at a very high price. I snapped the photo about a week ago after I heard my 4-year-old daughter poke her 6-year-old sister and whisper in one of those loud kid whispers: “Look at mom.”

I know,  I told you this was pretty serious. (To my credit I was fixing the kids breakfast and had yet to look in a mirror.)

I guess this means I’m earning my stripes as an artist. I’m not implying that all serious artists have bad hair. I’m just saying that I have a new appreciation for the struggle that sometimes goes into the creation of art. I have completely lost myself in this project and have suffered from hand cramps, nausea, sleep deprivation and chronic mood swings. (Ex: “I love this project. I hate this project, but, no, I really do love it.”)

But things are starting to look up.

In an effort to find suitable backing fabric I spent  hours wandering around local fabric stores carrying five large appliques made of neckties and getting some very mixed reviews. (Note: I got the most encouragement from fellow customers at an independent shop in town, the people at the big box store regarded me as if I had just escaped from the mental ward. And no, my hair did not look like it did in the photo above.)

Anyway, I’m happy to report that I have committed to some wild background colors: gold, turquoise and hot pink. (No joke.) And I’m finally to the part where I can rev up my machine. At last!

This project has overwhelmed me and inspired me at the same time. It’s caused a continuous streak of bad hair days and consumed so much of my time and thinking that I’m not sure what I’ll do when I stitch the last bit of binding on and release it to the world for public scrutiny. I’m not sure where this quilt will end up, how much money it will raise for the local women’s shelter I’m donating it to, or how I’ll feel about all of this when I’m done.

But even in my fatigued state, I appreciate that this project is so much bigger than me and therefore forcing me to commit to my design and be fearless about every stitch that goes into it as I race to the finish line. There simply isn’t time to freak out.

I really wanted to run the Grand Rapids Marathon this fall, but this quilt has become my marathon. I’m really tired and I have the equivalent of about 8 miles left to go. Will I make it? You better believe it. :  )

I just have to remember to comb my hair before the opening.

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