Monday, September 19, 2011

On the duration of finishing...

While we were on vacation this summer we were blessed with a lot of rain. That definitely was one reason why I was rather glad I had resisted my husband’s repeated attempts to hire a camper for our vacation – although small, we had at least two rooms that we could spread out in! We also had internet connection, and I could do a bit of blog-reading. Amongst others I read Terry Jarrard-Dimond’s post ,Are you a finisher? and the kind of energy that you can release by finishing old pieces.
I recognized a few points that I had also mentioned in my posts on UFO-completion earlier.
(By the way – there is going to be another UFO-completion-weekend at the Catholic Community College Petersberg in February 2012. More information and sign-up here.)
But Terry’s post set me thinking some more on finishing, time frames and such.
Before I had left for Switzerland end of June I had that special experience with finishing „Personality“ to enter in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, which I wrote about here.
That certainly was another lesson in taking care of oneself simply by allowing oneself enough time to finish projects properly. It is not healthy to be forced to work under stress until the last minute before the post-office closes. And usually things tend to get more complicated that way. I still remember the time when I was finishing my Ph.D.thesis – I had planned generously, allowing myself a buffer-time-zone of several weeks and managed to be finished three weeks ahead of the deadline. A year later, when I was preparing the manuscript for the printer to be published, I had booked a flight to go to Canada, was teaching, and everything had been calculated much tighter. Of course the printer broke, and everything turned very hectic. I did send the manuscript off, and I did catch my flight, but I was so exhausted that I did not even have enough strength to be mad at myself.
Ever since then I have tried to be a better planner. I set aside the weeks in my calendar when I know I will be busy dyeing the fabrics for the fabric club. I put in registration deadlines for shows or competitions in which I participate. Just a few weeks ago Ieven printed out a year’s planner for 2013, earlier than I ever have done that before. But as I realized in June – it’s not always possible to finish in proper time...

But that doesn’t really have much to do with the topic of Terry’s entry  – finishing of (older) pieces that are as of yet imcomplete.

Reasons for not finishing a piece may be numerous. One of them may be that it was started in a workshop-einvironment but they have to be finished at home. There, however, is another piece that has been hanging on the wall and needs to be completed first. And when you have finished that one, there are already so many other interesting ideas that came up that you don’t return to the workshop-piece, but start something new first, and that's the beginning of being a UFO. Or it might happen that you unpack something at home, eager to continue – and then you realize that there is something seriously wrong with the piece which for one reason or other you did not notice before.
That’s what happened to me with a large piece I had started during my stay at Nancy Crow’s barn during a Master Class in June of 2008. It was the first time I was a participant in that class, and that meant a lot of different emotions and experiences  – was I really worthy of being here in that group? I was also trying out something entirely new by using my son’s line drawings as a kick-off point for my quilts, and it was the first time that I could really work that big because I had never had such a large design wall before.

"Play of Lines II" (in progress, stalled)
I learned a lot with this piece. For example, I had never worked with this color palette before. I was getting acquainted with the techniques to get satisfying line-work in. After several days, however, I had reached a point when I thought I could not go on with it right then and that it schould be packed away. That was the time when Nancy said „I’m not particularly thrilled with that orange.“ That was quite a comment – why hadn’t she said anything about that three days ago when I first started using that orange for the lines? and what about the fact that I was certain that the orange was the right color for what I was trying to express as it caused sufficient contrast to the grey background?
As I said, at that point I had the feeling I wasn’t going to get any further with this anyway and packed it all away. When I unpacked it all at home, however, I realized that for me it definitley wasn’t the orange that was the problem, but the green configuration. 

Due to the insufficient contrast it did not achieve the kind of importance I wanted it to have. So it all went back into the box because I could not at that point figure out a way of solving the problem. Throughout the three years since it was made I kept taking it out regularly, looked at it contemplatingly, and put it back, out of sight. It was supposed to be Play of Lines II, but that gap remained in the series. But something in Terry’s entry struck a chord, and established a connection to this particular top. Suddenly I knew how I could deal with this lost top.
So finishing may take a while, sometimes gestation periods are longer than the nine months of a pregnancy... but as long as you have a special attachment to a particular top, there is still a chance that it will find its time. Now I have an idea, and as soon as the project on my wall will be sewn, the grey top is going to be taken out again. You won’t be able to recognize it after it’s completet, and it won’t be a Play of Lines anymore. That gap will stay. 

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