Over and over, up and down, another panel. Another crooked line of stitch. How did I get 32" instead of 30". And don't get me started on colors -- can a nice juicy Lenten purple be that difficult to get on silk? Rolling of eyes. Gnashing of teeth. Pulling of threads. How could a church project inspire such woeful internal language? If I ever decide that making a traditional quilt is necessary for my art quilt mastery --proving to myself and others that I am a "real" artist -- please remind me of this week.
Pinned to the wall in the studio is a diptych of art quilts, a commission for San Pedro Presbyterian Church-- the first commission I have accepted in a long time. The diptych, with its rich silks and relatively simple design and patterning, has been a pleasure. Ever step was joyful: researching church symbols, dyeing and printing fabrics and ordering silk from my favorite sari store in Houston, stitching the layers together by machine and by hand, even the repetitive meditation of finishing the edges with layered stitch. (To see some interesting finishing ideas for textile work, order my mentor and friend Jane Dunnewold's "Edges and Borders" CD.)
Not so the simple silk dyed banners that are to hang either side and change with the liturgical seasons. Why does 30" slip around on my measuring stick? And why has it taken me four tries to get an appropriately Lenten purple? My old Singer machine (it was my Grandmother's 1952 pride) is a workhorse when it comes to freemotion quilting -- but because I have pushed the tension and manhandled so much fabric through it, making a simple seam strengthens my resolve to start down payments on a new Bernina. I'm still not done, and need to deliver the banners and art quilts next week, so that they can be welcomed into the sanctuary on Sunday, Sept. 10.
That date, Sept. 10.
That day a few years ago was last day before everything changed about how we in the U.S. think of peace and war, sanctuary and safety. It's amazing the power that typing Sept. 10 or Sept. 11 or Sept.12 has now. As an artist, it's often hard to see the relationship between peace out there and peace in here. What can my work do to heal a world where some people are so desperate to achieve their view of right that they are willing to kill others, and destroy their own precious gift of life? All I know to do is to keep doing my soul purpose, to trust that my quilts are putting peace into the world. And to remember that the tasks that I do, even the ones that tangle the threads and threaten my sense of worth in silly little ways, can provide sanctuary if only I keep the peace.