Towards Craftsmanship and story telling

Someone posted this Carhartt video of Jason Momoa crafting a story surrounding his life, craft, finding his life’s purpose, learning to enjoy life through acting. He speaks with

great love of his wife, and their children. Jason speaks with passion about his mom’s influence on his life, that she taught him to skateboard, and this is something he is passing onto his kids.

Jason speaks of craftsmanship. This caught my attention as it is a word I’d love to bring into the lexicon of quilt making. Merriam-Webster defines craftsmanship as: a worker who practices a trade or handcraft, and one who creates or performs with skill or dexterity especially in the manual arts. (Emphasis added.)The favorite word here is practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.
I have this thing for Craftsman houses, Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, Mondrian paintings, a well-done, and well curated fabric line, a well-made quilt, a well told story. What I can see underneath the thing is all of the work that went into getting to the point of creating the particular thing. I may not know each step, but more the level of effort and work. Make sense?

Nearly thirty years ago while serving as a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity I took a very basic clowning class offered by some of the other volunteers. Learning to clown, like quilt making, is something of a process wherein thought is given to your walk, your face including which features to exaggerate and de-emphasize. Perhaps in something of a telling way, I wanted to be a story telling clown. Clowning is not something I pursued with reckless abandon however, I could remake my clown face. The point of sharing this, is that clowning is something I tried. Story telling however, has stayed with me.

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When the opportunity arises to give the Trunk Show of Quilts I get to tell the stories of the quilts, the struggles making them, and which are my faves. Taking in progress pieces that will not ever be finished in any way to show how I practice that which is the craft that has chosen me.  Just as it took Jason years to find his passion, for acting to find him, it’s taken me, any quilter who quilts, writes, teaches, shows, competes to get to the moment they are in. It’s risky business putting our stuff out there, because like actors we leave ourselves open to rejection, criticism, and a lot of tears and pain. And then there is the great joy of a quilt done like we envisioned, students getting “it”, ribbons on our quilts, and the feel of fabric beneath our fingers. The designs that wake us up at two in the morning because they just have to become something real.

One day the quilting story will write itself in a way in which allows me to breathe deeply the satisfaction of a well told story, the next quilt will be the one that will let me put it out in public.

This leads me to some writing, and quilting that is calling my name, so I’m off to hone my craft of quilting, and all of the things that go with it.

Happy Quilting,

Teri

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2 thoughts on “Towards Craftsmanship and story telling

  1. I too have long felt that in addition to enjoying the fun of just making, mastering the aspects of quiltmaking embodies definite craftsmanship. Twyla Tharp, in her book “The Creative Habit”, brought it home to me when she said “It takes skill to bring something you’ve imagined into the world….If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill (or for the purposes of this comment, “craftsmanship”) is how you build that bridge”.

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