A PATCH OF CREATIVITY
Sometimes you have to step away from a project and let it find its own course – and what better way to do that than to have another creative outlet?
For me, quilting is the go-to when I need a break from writing. Writing is almost completely intellectual. Quilting is very tactile so the brain is engaged in a different way. Still, the two are more similar than you might think. Both the writer and the quilter begin by examining their components, testing different ways of combining them, seeking an arrangement that will blend conflicting parts into a harmonious whole.
I love words. I feel joy in the power they give me to translate ideas into stories. I also love color. I’m constantly surprised by the way the mood of a color changes according to other colors near it. I enjoy playing with different shapes, curved or straight lines, and the texture of fabric.
Choosing the fabric, the colors and pattern of a quilt is very like choosing the attributes of a fictional character. Combining dark and light shades is like working out the details of a storyline. A book begins as a tangle of ideas with only the glint of a plot shining through. A quilt begins as a mishmash of fabrics with colors and patterns that clash. As alike as the two mediums are in the making, they are, at least for me, completely different in their target destination. A story is written for the world, sent out with the blind hope that someone will read and enjoy it. Most of my quilts have been made with a specific person in mind, with the color and mood determined by the personality of that person.
One of my sons is the world greatest animal lover. His favorite color (and the color that best fits his personality) is red. When I decided to make a quilt for him one Christmas, I knew red would be the dominant color. Then, as so often happens in creative endeavors, serendipity stepped in. I stumbled on a panel with a cat face in shades of grey and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I cut pieces of every red and every grey fabric I could find, sewed them together willy-nilly, and put my big cat face in the middle. I love the result. Some of the shades clash, creating an illusion of movement. The cat remains still, looking wise and aloof as only a cat can.
When my grandson turned three, I made a bug jar quilt for him. No need to explain that. Have you ever known a three-year-old boy who didn’t love bugs? When a friend moved from New York to New Mexico, I made a quilt for her new home. For this, I combined the deep green of pine trees with the softer green of sage, the rusty reds of the great buttes and the sandy tones of the desert.
Somewhere in the process of making each of these quilts, I wondered why I thought this combination of colors would please the eye. Will anyone else see the vision so clear to me? Can I pull this off? And, probably the biggest question of all: will my patience last long enough to see it through? Will I ever finish this quilt? Sounds like writing a book, doesn’t it?
A little something about my most recent book:
In LOVE AND NOT DESTROY, a baby is found in a basket on the grounds of a small-town museum during their annual Folk Festival. Twenty-two years later, a homeless man is murdered in exactly the same spot. Connection? Or coincidence? Peace Morrow, the foundling, now an adult working at the museum, is haunted by this question and thus begins a quest that explores the nature of family, of loyalty and responsibility. As she tries to reconstruct the victim’s history, his story becomes entangled with her own search for family roots, a journey that leads her through the dusty boxes in the museum’s basement, to the antique markets in the northern part of the state and, ultimately, to the innermost reaches of her own heart.