Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Turning Point . . .


When I thought about what quilt I'd like to showcase in The Blogger's Quilt Festival I kept coming back to this one.

In 2002 I decided to enter the Quilting Arts Magazine Calendar Contest. I wouldn't have had the nerve a few years before but I'd had some success recently so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Now in those days Quilting Arts had more handsewn, non-altered fabric articles. Nowadays it seems to be geared towards the "Art" quilters who do all kinds of things to their fabric and quilts that just give me a headache. I've spent years being "non-traditional" but now I'm probably considered more traditional as I actually know how to sew. I'm not discounting the value of the kind of work they showcase, it's just too complicated for me. Anytime I have to put on latex gloves to do something. . . well, I think it's time I'll do something else . . . but then, I digress!

I entered for the 2003 calendar and there was no theme, just an open call for entries. Now, this competition was perfect for me. The quilts are small, 12" square, so my heavily embellished style was feasible, and I thought I could shine.

I've always been fascinated by boxes of chocolates. Of course, I love chocolate, (Dark Chocolate Raspberry Creams by See's especially . . . yum), but what always attracted me were the compartments, each with some different shape inside.That inspired me! I like order with a touch of chaos and a box of chocolates, well, it works for me. So, I decided I'd do a valentine themed box of chocolates.

I started making the chocolate box and when I was nearly done I happened to come upon a piece of fabric in my stash with frogs all over it. It started me thinking about the old Monty Python "Crunchy Frog" sketch, where the chocolate coated frogs were "crunchy" because they still had the bones in them. Then I started thinking about frogs and about their long tongues and how they caught flies, and then it occured to me . . .

How about a frog hiding out in a box of chocolates, using them as a lure to catch flies? That was it and my cupids and valentines went out the window to be replaced by a garden full of all kinds of flies and bugs, and a couple of frogs trying to catch them all.

I called it "You Can Catch More Flies With . . ." and sent it off.

Well, to make a long story short, it won the February spot in the calendar! It was a thrill but the most important thing about winning was what I learned from the experience.

First of all, it's never the life changing experience you think it would be. It feels good to get the recognition for your work and it does wonders for your self confidence. However, whenever you send off anything you still have doubts about whether it's good enough, and more often than not it isn't.

So much about the judging and selection process is beyond your control. All you can do is your best work and then hope for the best.

Secondly, the reactions of friends and family aren't always what you expect them to be. Some will be effusively happy for you, others will ignore it, and still others will make snarky comments. It's a great way to find out who your true friends are, especially within the quilting community. Jealousy and competitiveness can be lurking inside people you'd never suspect so just be forewarned.

Finally, the most important thing I learned about myself was that winning wasn't what mattered. It turned out that it wasn't the reason I quilt. I quilt because I can't not quilt. It's like it's in my DNA, so deeply ingrained in me that I couldn't stop even if I wanted to.

So, this little quilt was a turning point for me. It pointed me even more in the direction of letting go of preconceived ideas and going with the flow, it also taught me that there's more to quilting than ribbons and prizes.

Thanks froggies!

Susan

14 comments:

ivyarts said...

I love the quilt! And the story too. Thanks for sharing the experience and putting it into words for us... I quilt because I can't not quilt. Priceless.

Ruth Anne Olson said...

You quilt is wonderful, but your story is perhaps even more so. Your take on winning was eye-opening. I thought it was the be-all and end-all (and I felt that I could never be the one to win). Quilting because you can't not quilt is the way so many artists live their lives: they have to do it. And they keep getting better at it. Keep up the good work. I will be one of your followers.

Zonnah said...

It is beautiful!

Susan said...

Great quilt...I love all the beads and embellishments!

(Your name is what originally caught my eye though...I'm Susan McConnell!)

Terri Stegmiller said...

So much to look at in the little quilt. Fabulous color!

QuiltyGoodness said...

This is so creative and fun. Very imaginative! The frogs are great.

hetty said...

I love it!

Pat said...

Thanks for sharing. Plunging into a contest takes VERVE and the exciting thing is that you figured out that winning wasn't really what mattered. You rock girl!

Rene' said...

I absolutely LOVE your quilt!!! .... and not just because dark chocolate with raspberry is my favorite, either. I can't even begin to imagine how you made the chocolates look like they are edible. I love the dragonflies in the background. They are my favorite - after the chocolate, of course.

I agree with you on all your comments about art quilts and how some of them have gone way over the top. Yours is just right. I can't wait to come by and check out more of your blog after I've seen all the festival entries. Thanks for sharing.

stitchinpenny said...

What a fantastic quilt! I am so glad that you can't not quilt.

Roslyn said...

Very clever-the choc box quilt is fascinating

Michelle said...

It is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

Sara said...

Great story and adorable quilt...

Maddie Can Fly said...

Love your quilt and the story and I'm glad that you won. I too entered one of the QA calendar contests, but unfortunately, my entry was during the "wear latex gloves era" (LOL), so my poor little quilt didn't make the cut. If you have time on your hands, it's in the header on my blog.