Saturday, February 19, 2011

I have a confession....

This comment was left a couple days ago:
My first thought was that these are too beautiful to use as placemats...then I thought...'what a great way to use up scraps'...and 'what a great idea to make beautiful things to use and enjoy'!



I have to admit that the things I made were always too precious to use.  They were pieces of art, show pieces, not to ever leave their pristine state of newness.  Then when my good friend visited overnight she asked me "where is the quilt for my bed?" and I had a hard time deciding that any of them could actually be used.  After all you wouldn't use a painting to eat on or as a tray to carry the teapot.  How could anyone sit on my piece of art on the bed?

I got over that finally and now I do use my quilts, placemats, etc.  Finally I have enough time to make more quilts, more wallhangings, more placemats, and even though I still consider them my artwork, I want to use them and enjoy them. 

It took me awhile to figure out where the change came.  I finally decided that it was when I stopped giving trunk shows on a regular schedule that I could finally use the pieces.  I still have at least 50 pieces that are in new condition to use for an occasional trunk show, but I have 8 quilts for my bed and 4 for the guest bed now.  I gave away over 50 quilts in the last 2 years and 2 so far this year.  I want to gift them while I'm still here instead of leaving the burden to some one else.  I want other people to use them too.
End of confession.

44 comments:

Feather on a Wire said...

Me too!

I sleep under a wholecloth quilt bought very cheaply on Ebay. I do have one of my quilts on our guest bed, but apart from that they are all under the bed and only bought out when I give talks on them.

I do have a couple of very simple quilts for the sofas which we use.
Somehow if months of work have gone into them, I do have a slightly precious feeling about them.

And I don't want the cats wrecking them!

stitchinpenny said...

I am not an artist, I am way too practical. I have given all of my quilts away and last year I made a quilt that was so precious to me that I had trouble giving it away. It tugged at my heart strings until I asked for a list of babies that needed a quilt and got a note about a child who had just undergone her first of multiple anticipated surguries, I was cure. Art is made to be admired and what better way to admire a quilt than in use. I understand keeping samples since you are a teacher, but in my heart I know that most quilts are there to be used.

jovaliquilts said...

I suppose many of us have conflicted feelings about using (by which we mean "ruining"!) our quilts. What helps me is when I give a quilt to someone and then see them using it, I feel great!

Jackie said...

It is funny how we tend to view our work. I think that we all feel that they are works of art. We put so much time and effort into them, that they really are art. But in the same respect many of them are meant to be used or useful. We should enjoy or work in whatever form it was meant to be used. I am so glad that you now use them. They are still beautiful when being used, but now they are truly loved!

Ann Marie said...

I make mine to use, everyday. Otherwise why bother if they are only going to sit in a closet collecting dust.

Gene Black said...

I guess because of my Grandmothers' quilts, I have always wanted my quilts to be used. For that very reason I have resisted making small "wall art" quilts.
funny how we perceive things, isn't it.

sally in st. paul said...

Hooray for you. One of the women in my quilt group died last year- leaving behind two van loads of fabric and many,many unfinished projects. We are now finishing them for her family to give away. She will never have the joy of seeing someone receive and appreciate those things.
sally in st. paul

Linda said...

I come from a long line of people who save the 'good' things and never end up using them. I have some wedding gifts from 40 years ago to prove it. But my first daughter is a 'use the things you love' kind of girl and she taught me a few things. My quilts are used. It is why I wash them first thing after I make them. I want them to look like they are to be used and washed and used and washed to encourage folks to use them. Wanda, your quilts are truly art in the purest meaning of the word. It must be even harder to let them go.

Cedar Ridge Studio said...

I love the idea of people using and enjoying my things now when I am here to see their pleasure.
As I get older things are just that things.
I take great joy in sharing with
family and friends.

karenfae said...

I always assumed at trunk shows that the quilts were "used" I didn't realize some people didn't use them but put away to look at now and then. I am too practical and love to use my quilts - I do consider my quilts my art but art to be used.
I think it is a good thing to think ahead and give quilts to people you want to have them.
Karen
http://karensquilting.com/blog/

Eat, Sleep, Quilt said...

Wanda, what a touching, eye-opening post! My niece had one of my mom's quilts and for some reason known only to her she kept it in the trunk of her car. The car caught fire and the quilt burned up! She underwent surgery last year and I gave her one of my quilts and I said "This quilt is to be used, not put away someplace!" When I talked with her last and asked if she's using the quilt, she said "Sometimes I just sit and look at it, I can't believe you made that!" What a dooflus.

I bought a quilt from an antique store that was in very good shape. It was so covered in dust that I washed it first thing... and I'm using it - it's a pretty quilt but I don't want to just pull it out every now and then just to gaze at it. I bought it because I liked it, not to have something to pass on when I'm gone.

So I agree, we put our time, money, effort into these quilts, they should be enjoyed in our lifetime.

Char said...

Great post Wanda. I've never hesitated to use everything I make. Maybe it's because I starting sewing garments and then learned to quilt.

Julia said...

I can understand how you feel. Your work is so beautiful that it would be a shame if something happened to any of these priceless treasures. But, I also understand the change in feeling. What's the point if no one else can enjoy them?
I used to cringe when one of my little grands stained one of the dresses that I had made for them. But, over time, I realize that kids get things dirty and they can usually be washed and come clean. If not, like the dress that got nail polish on it, oh well, it was worn and loved for a little while anyway.
I sure am glad you share your beautiful creations on your blog!

pcflamingo said...

I can see why you would want to be cautious of your quilts - they are indeed works of art. But how lucky now for your family and friends that they get to enjoy your works of art too! I sew mostly charity quilts, and some are of the 6" square, zip, zip, zip and done. But on others I play around with interesting new (to me) patterns and that's always satisfying.

Sue said...

That was beautifully written. It actually brought me to tears. These amazing pieces of you that you share with us reveal the artwork of your own soul. Those people who have received your quilt gifts are truly blessed. What a pleasure to read your blog!:)

Leslie McNeil of MarveLes Art Studios said...

Excellent post!

Needled Mom said...

I always admired my MIL because she would use her good things. My mom would keep them stashed away so it was such a foreign concept to me. I really try to be more like my MIL.

Anonymous said...

I had to go back and see if it was me that said, "too beautiful to use, just look at." And it was... Maybe some one else too ?

I have made many spreads over the years for our king size bed. And used them till, I got another whim to change my decor. But never a quilt ! And even those spreads ... I still fold them up and take off at night and do not use for warmth. I use them to a point... right ?

After reading your post and several others today. Yes I would try to use them and would not cry if someone spilled something on them . (*._,*)

J~MT

Quiet Quilter said...

I love my quilts and love the idea of my family using them until they wear out. My 2 1/2 yr old grandson has a "blankie" which was crocheted by a friend and it is almost in rags now..he still won't part with it...

Riel Nason said...

I like this post. I have both quilts "for use" and ones that I keep packed away in a cedar chest. I make fancy selvage quilts which I'm quite proud of, so those stay put away, but anything I make for my kids is 100% meant to be used no matter how fancy. It is hard to think of them getting pee,throw up, etc. ;-) on the quilts but knowing how much the kids like their quilts with my "hugs" stitched in them helps. Cheers, Riel

judi said...

I have seen quite a few trunk shows of quilts that were not in 'new' condition. Have to admit, these were some of my favorite trunk shows. The quilts were not only excellent in their workmanship, awesome designs, great color choices BUT they were also well loved. Have gone to a few of the same trunk shows several times.
<3 judi

MN2NM said...

This is a wonderful post and something that a lot of us think about. My worry is that after I have spent the resources to make a quilt that it won't get used. But my quilts are definitely not art :) And I think yours certainly are. What lucky recipients!

Miki Willa said...

This is a very timely post for me. One of the reasons I came to quilting from my background as a fine artist was the idea that I could still practice my art, but in a more practical way. I love knowing that my creations will be used for everyday life. I still make small wall hangings, but I am mostly focused on creating lap quilts, and other small, usable, pieces of art. Thanks for this post.

Cindy said...

I love this post! I've made so many quilts that I've given away. I always tell my recipients the quilts were made to be used. I say that but when my niece sent me a photo with her 3 kids having a picnic on a quilt I made for her baby (made in pastel colors and applique, which I rarely do)...well that made me blanch! But...I think I've gotten over it. To me a lesson learned....if it's intended to be given away, then let go! That, and, don't put intricate work on something to be used! :)

CharlotteP said...

So glad you are now enjoying your beautiful works of art...this was a prompt for me too...and your post about not wanting fabric listed in your estate sale! I am really cutting into my stash now, thank you!

Muddling Through said...

I think it is perfectly understandable, especially after all the time and work you put into your works of art. That being said, I am glad you are using your quilts and other art now and giving them away to give pleasure to others. We don't live in museums, and much as we might like it - there is no guarantee that the things you have worked so hard to create will be treated with care or even survive after you are gone. Enjoy them now!

Laura said...

I had the same problem as you, not just with my quilts, and I have finally progressed to using things now rather than waiting for "someday" or worrying about damage, etc. I figure if a quilt gets ruined, I can just make another one! LOL

didi said...

reminds me of something reputed to have been spoken by Erma Bombeck. when asked whether she would have done anything in her life differently, she replied, "I would have burned the rose-shaped candle."

Chris said...

Good for you Wanda! I too have learned to let it go and just enjoy.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Your pieces are artwork ... I can totally understand why you were conflicted about sitting on them or tossing them over your legs. But, when we cleaned out my grandmother's house, she had boxes and boxes of beautiful, brand new things that she was saving for "someday." We are now enjoying her someday ... I'm SO glad you have come to terms with your quilted art and are enjoying it on every level NOW and not missing the opportunities.

mary said...

I use my quilts and want the owners to use them too. One of my favorites is now getting faded from so much washing but I love it that way too. I once gave a baby quilt to a dear friend and was so disappointed when I saw it 5 years later folded on a shelf. I asked her about it and she thought it was too nice to use. What a waste.

I want my quilts to be like me; well used and happy about it!

Anonymous said...

Gosh i remeber saying WHERE IS MY QUILT ! I guess did hear me. hehe.Wig.

Dora, the Quilter said...

Near the very beginning of my quiltmaking journey (back before there was even the dream of a publishing for quilting books) someone told me that there was a long standing tradition that it was good luck to be the first person or persons to sleep under a new quilt. Therefore, even if the quilt has been intended for a wall, someone gets to sleep under it first! We need all the luck we can get!

hetty said...

I loved your post today, Wanda. Sorry I am so late in commenting. Our power went out and my internet provider along with it. I want my quilts to be used, but I have many that have never been out of the cupboard. I am working on remedying that. Your beautiful TAW quilts make me drool.

GerryART said...

What is art?
if not to enjoy?
How can it be appreciated tucked safely away and viewed only when it's re-folded to ensure safe keeping.

May as well use and enjoy. And better to gift them while we're still above ground.

I Love your art.

Hugs,
Gerry

Gari said...

Interesting.

quiltmom said...

I use quilts I made every day- I even wore out the first one I made but I know that they are being seen and loved by my family. I have made a few wall quilts but most of the time I have made bed or couch quilts as gifts.
What a great accomplishment to have given so many away- You are one prolific quilter Wanda- and a fabulous one too. Someone who receives one of your quilts is fortunate indeed.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful inspiring work- it does make me smile each time I come to look at your posts.
Regards,
Anna

Rebel said...

You know, I think we all struggle with drawing the line between art piece and functional piece. I tend towards the flip side, when I make a quilt I want it to be used used used to bits. When I gave a friend a quilt for her baby she put it up on the wall instead of letting the baby actually use it and that made me really sad. It's hard for me to accept the pure-art aspect of my quilts.

For me, I think it was only once I had enough quilts for me to cuddle up under that I started thinking about quilting as an art form.

I'm glad you now have enough to treat them both ways!!

Maria said...

I love to make quilts so there is nothing better for me than if one of my grand children tell me they need a new one because they have loved theirs to bits.
Admittedly my are not as gorgeous as yours.

Lynn said...

I read this not too long ago but don't remember where...."I buy fabric to use not for my estate sale after I am gone." Made me think about saving that beautiful fabric and not cutting into it. It is something I need to adopt as well as your in using the quilts.

Anonymous said...

It has broken my heart that the first quilt I ever made, a double bed size I hand pieced for my brother's wedding present, has been folded up in a bag in the attic ever since. "Too good to use" I'm told but maybe they just didn't like it! It really was meant to be used - or at least for their children (now 20+) to roll around on.

Brita said...

This subject really touched my heart, and got me up on my soapbox. Well, I'd been thinking about starting a new blog, so this got me riled up and made me do the first post. I hope people don't take it the wrong way -- and get mad -- and not come back. Oh, oh. Well, I am just so glad you allow your quilts to be loved!

Millie said...

Just beautiful Wanda. I love seeing your quilts and how you use color. Always fun to stop by at your blog.

biloxibird said...

Use everything--you deserve to be surrounded and covered in beauty. Our mother had a debilitating accident. Very controlling and greedy woman before brain damage--nice afterward--go figure. Would never give us anything we asked for even if she had no use for it. We had stored her stuff from her apt. and paid rent. Finally knew she was not going to use it. Kept some things we wanted, but dumpstered the rest as there was no close thrift store and did this on a Sunday. So much stuff that was too good for us to use. Use it or give it away. Love and blessings