I’ve been making more of tape
quilts patchworks in the morning to clear my mind and keep my hands busy.
“I have to have something to with my hands to keep me satisfied,” says 93-year-old quilt artist Laverne Brackens.
Brackens says her designs often come to her in dreams. She then wakes up in the middle of the night and arranges her vision to be sewn the next morning. “You’d be surprised at what you can do with the material,” she explains. “The quilt takes you where it wants you to go, not where you want to go.”
I find that’s true of all of my work, too. Anni Albers said you have to let the materials lead:
Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done. The dictation of the materials.
It’s as true for people who work with words as thread. Here’s an excerpt from Irish poet Ciaran Carson’s obituary:
Mr. Carson — who was also a translator, working in several languages — viewed writing poetry not as an exercise in setting down an idea, but as an exploration.
“The kind of examination question which used to be put, ‘What did the poet have in mind when he said …’ is an assumption that the poet clothes his thought in verse,” he told The Spectator in 2012, “whereas the poet often doesn’t know what he has in mind: He follows the language, and sees where it might lead him, which is usually a very different place from what he thought at the onset.
“If you know exactly what you are going to say in a poem,” he continued, “that poem will be a failure. Besides, there is no interest or fun, in saying what you already know.”
When I came across artist Bisa Butler’s quilts, which are based off of photographs, I wondered if there was still room for this kind of exploration. “I like working from black-and-white photos,” she says, “because it gives me the freedom to put in the colors I feel belong there.”