Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Lots of Work?
Does it annoy you when someone looks at something you've made and says, "That's a lot of work!"? Another kind of startling comment is the type of thing a friend said recently: "That's a lot of thread." (She's a woodworker and should know better; I wouldn't look at something she made and say, "That's a lot of varnish.")
Comments like this are intended as praise, at least I think so. I find them hurtful though, because they miss the point so completely. Cleaning the bathroom is hard work. Making a quilt may be time consuming and have tedious stretches, but it satisfies the creative spirit before, during, and after the process. There are constant challenges to overcome, new fabrics and colors and stitches to try. That's not "hard work."
However, quilters can sometimes contribute to the quantitative approach to quilt appreciation. Not too long ago I read the "Artist's Statement" of a big prize winner who proudly reported how many yards of thread she used in her masterpiece. Sometimes too, we value handwork more than machine work, even if the handwork is poor, apparently because handwork is "harder."
It is true that difficulty and quality often go hand in hand. Detail and intricacy add to the enjoyment of viewing a quilt and help make the difference between an ordinary quilt and an outstanding one. I know when I look at the work of Japanese quilters I'm stunned by the beauty and intricacy of the design and the unexpected color harmonies, but part of me is thinking, "How long did that take?"
Still, I don't want "That's a lot of work" to be the reaction to one of my quilts.
I'd really like to hear opinions about this. Have you had this reaction to your work? How do you feel about it?