Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let's blog about inspiration

I ended up doing a double shot of last month's Block Lotto linky topic, so I will try to corral everything in one post this go-round.  For May the topic is Inspiration.  Hmm.   Well.  I barely know where ideas come from & like Forrest Gump that is all I have to say about that.

Or is it?

It is almost easier to say where it doesn't come from.  Unfortunately, it never -for me, anyhow- comes from learning where other people get their inspiration.  I mean no disrespect, honest, I just find talking about it (or listening anyhow) leaves me with mixed feelings.  I guess it is because inspiration seems to arrive from to places:  ideas are either "all around" or "inside you".  I could be wrong, but is there any place else?  Don't those two kind of cover it?  I'm not saying either of these is wrong, just they are so all encompassing they could not possibly be wrong.  Sort of like saying all food originates with the sun.  Which it does.  But how will that help me with what to a plant here & now for canning next fall?

So I decided to look at a few of my creations & where I think they began.  Turns out the answer is usually "books" which is actually WORSE than the sources I biotched about because books are both all around & inside.   Also books can mean anything.  I spent most of quilting-2013 obsessed with a thing I call bird trap which was more or less a break down to common elements (in a quilt called Bird Trap) & then a build back up of a quilt I saw in a book.  On a not wholly unrelated side note I found myself winding into that again with a different picture of a different quilt in a different book (John Michael Vlach's The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts)....& it turns out to be by Pecolia Warner again. 

Then there are the much easier inspirations from books. I have said before that I consider The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns to be my most valuable quilting tool.  Not just for the Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group blocks although it helps there but even when I am just doodling.  Most recently the center block I sent in for the Cotton Robin was from a page in this book that I have had marked as "try this" for years. 

I also have a..let's call it a problem...with more abstract quilt ideas that begin with books.  Specifically right now I have a plastic bin full of fabrics that might do for a Thursday Next themed quilt top. WHAT!?!?!?!  You don't know who Thursday Next is?!?!?!?!?!?  Run don't walk & put your hands on a copy of The Eyre Affair RIGHT NOW. 

But the drop dead truth is these are all in my view, ideas more than inspiration.  Inspiration is somehow less conscious & more translation of unrelated whatever.  For example after years of looking at index cards & boxes of blocks of wood (you wish you had my job yes?), I have noticed my first drafts of quilts are kind of boxy.  Blocky even. 

When I go back through my weeks, it is easy to see how day after day of this:

became this:

For the record that quilt block there is supposed to be a row of books.  My brain is a big old mess.

1 comment:

  1. I think I came to the same conclusion-quilters are inspired by everything ... it's how they go from inspiration to quilt that is more of an individual process ;-)

    Thanks for blogging about inspiration.