I’ve had lots of lovely feedback about my quilt, especially since I explained the process here on the blog. Quite a few people have described the making of that quilt as brave, or risky. I think that’s an interesting point for discussion. Describing something as risky can imply that maybe it’s foolhardy. For me risk is something different. Risk is about asking questions of yourself, stepping outside the known and discovering something new. The perceived risk? That the work might not ‘turn out’. Yes, my quilt might not have turned out, but is that really a risk? Only if you think that the end product is the only important thing.
While I’m not particularly driven by process, for me the experimentation, the making, the thinking about a piece of work, is as valuable as the piece of work itself. If the end result is a disaster, it wouldn’t mean that the journey (sorry to use that cliche) wasn’t worth it. I would have enjoyed the process and learnt lots. Quiltmaking is a slow process so maybe that’s why more makers don’t take more risks. Is the investment of time too much to lose? For me time doesn’t matter, a piece takes as long as it takes to make. It’s not about the hours, it’s about the time it takes to achieve what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s moments, sometimes it’s months.
My risks are calculated and educated. I’m not blindly bumbling about working in a random way. I think more than I do. But yes, I do take risks and I’d encourage you to do the same too. Playing safe, doing what you know will work, what has been already proved, it’s boring. So many quilts I see are beautiful but boring.
I don’t think I’m brave. Maybe it’s my limited attention span that demonstrates itself as risk-taking. I like a challenge, I need to keep myself interested in the work. And you know what? That energy does come through in the work. If you’re bored making something, then how can that work have life? How can it captivate anyone else? Someone approached me at the exhibition where 52 Degrees was shown. She had goosebumps and wanted to let me know that the quilt had caused them. That’s what I’m going for, trying to create those little moments of connection. I don’t think they happen without risk.
Coincidentally Elizabeth Barton who you might know from her wonderful contributions to Through Our Hands exhibitions has blogged on a similar topic just recently. I’d encourage you to hop over and have a read:
Thank you for reading today.