Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weekly Tip: Channelling Einstein

A few years ago, I had the chance to attend the Einstein exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.  I already knew Einstein was smart...a genius...but I also have come to believe he would make a helluva quilter.  He had a sense of playfulness and simplicity that would work marvelously in the fiber arts.

One of the things I learned is that Einstein did not use his substantial brainpower on just anything.  For instance, if you see photos of Einstein, you will notice that he is wearing virtually the same outfit.  Apparently, he bought several of the same item...the same jacket, shirt, shoes, socks...and simply rotated them.  He didn't want to have to think about something as ordinary as clothes.  I have to say this works a lot better if you are a man (even if you're not a genius)  in the early 20th century.

I have taken several of my tasks and "Einsteined" them.  In this I rarely have to think about these tasks, and it makes it easier for me to get them done.  Here is one that I use for sleeves. I will post other "Einstein tips" in coming weeks.

I sleeve all of my art quilts, and many of my bed quilts, specifically the ones still in my possession.  This is simply because I don't know which ones will be submitted for an upcoming show.  Yet, this is not the Einstein portion of this task.  Einstein helped with the process of making the sleeves.  What I do is take long lengths (perhaps 5 yards) of muslin, cut them to a 9" width, fold them in half, and sew a seam on the long end.  I then roll them around tubes, pin and rubber band them.  I cut the lengths I need, and I have ready to go sleeves that need only be attached to the top of the quilt, and turn the short edges in 1/4" and hem their short edges.  I then do not have to worry about what fabric I use for the sleeve.  I use the muslin no matter what fabrics are used on the rest of the quilt.  If I'm feeling extra creative, I can stamp or put Paintstik rubbings on the sleeve, but since it's not a part of the quilt that is likely to win or lose points for me during judging, I save my meek brainpower for other aspects of my quilting process.

On Being Flexible

Have you ever been in this situation?  You're with a group of people doing an activity, and something unplanned, and inconvenient happens.  How you do respond?

As the Program co-chair for Garden State Quilters, one of the responsibilities I share with Becky Dieckmann (my co-chair) is attending the workshops as the host.  The workshop was in my church's beautiful parish hall when all of a sudden, the irons blew the circuit. I'll tell you what I did as host in a minute, but my question to you is would you:

a) complain about not being able to work in a suitable space, but stay;
b) ask for your money back and go home;
c) stay and do what you can do until the lights come back on;
d) find a comfy chair and nap.

As the host, I tried to (unsuccessfully) find a circuit box with a tripped switch, then called someone to help.  I am happy, proud, impressed as hell to say the other ten people and the instructor chose (c).  While they could have done any of the other things, and justifiably so, they did what I would have done had I been on the other side.  There is a proverb, which is believe is Jewish in origin:  It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.  I have always loved this saying, but did not know I would understand it literally.

Many thanks are also due to the instructor, Didi Salvatierra, who was able to direct us to non-electrical tasks while we waited for the lights.  Everyone present possessed two important life skills which are necessary, but cannot be taught: flexibility, and a sense of humor.