Quilts generally have stages that move you from plan to complete. You fall in love with the pattern in the store or magazine. You then search endlessly for the right fabric. Next are the countless hours (days or even years) staring at the fabric and pattern as you wait for the next project to be completed before you start a new one. Eventually it moves to “in process”. More countless hours making blocks to exacting standards. Sewing. Reverse Sewing. Finally, after everything is pieced, its quilted and bound. The quilt may or may not get a label, but, it is finally “complete”.
Not so with Art Quilts. Like most art, there is always a little more you could do. You are constantly asking the questions: What is it missing? Is everything balanced? Should you add more? Are there things you need to remove? You have to train your eyes to edit the work. Don’t short change your vision, but don’t go over board. So, how do you know when it’s done? My stock answer is. . .“It’s done when it’s done.”
For the last couple years, my husband has a different measurement for me being “done”. He asks,
“did you bleed on it yet?”
Yes, you read correctly, actual blood. Now, while you are conjuring up visions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and Seymour giving drops of blood to Audrey II, let me assure you, I don’t willfully bleed on my or anyone else’s creations. It’s just that needle, scissor or stabbing accidents happen in my studio on a regular basis. So much so, that when I moved into my basement studio, I keep a First Aid kit stocked with varied size band-aids.
Now you can collectively say “EEEWWWWW”!!!!!
My list of sewing accidents is extensive:
- I have stabbed my palms using a seam ripper.
- I have impaled digits when changing needles
- I have nipped fingers with scissors
- I have sliced skin changing rotary cutters
- I have sewn needle & thread through thumb callus (this just falls into the category of “seriously?”)
- And my personal favorite, ramming a needle under the nail while hand sewing.
Now, if that doesn’t gross you out, then this will. I’ve learned the best way to get a drop of blood out of fabric is to wet it with a little saliva and then dab everything up with a paper towel. Yes, spit works pretty darn well. It removes all the evidence from sight.
I am not sure how I ended up with this curse. But, I can tell you it has been years since I have not shed blood on a project. There is no rhyme or reason when the accident will happen. It could happen at the beginning when I am pinning the backing fabric to the leaders on my Milli. I’ve stabbed myself taking the finished quilt off the rack. I’ve drawn blood cleaning up after projects and putting tools away. All I know is that if I haven’t bled on it yet, something must be missing.
As I was telling my husband about my idea for this post, he said “I bet that years from now, when you are dead and famous, someone will write about the blood you put into each project. They’ll have forensics experts doing DNA searches to determine if the piece was yours or a knock-off.”
I don’t know about the famous part, but if nothing else, we certainly know when “it’s done”.