Wednesday, November 10, 2010

stake out--Mothertown Quilt Guild

It was a dark and stormy night. This was where Google maps had landed me--an unnumbered church lot in the middle of Massachusetts. Alone. Outside it was cold.  Was I at the right place?  The rain kept coming down. There was a bar at the corner--I watched cars stop, leave, return with bags of food. On the side street,  cars drive up to the mail box, stop and then drive off. I felt like I was in a Walter Mosely novel.

I confess I have always wanted to start a blog post like that. Never thought I could. Maybe I have also wanted to be in that Walter Mosely novel. Or sitting in an unmarked car with Renko on Hill Street Blues.

Then, the lights came on in the church building. Women were streaming in. Such a happy eagerness to see each other. Tables for the Civil War quilt raffle, fabric exchanges, some wonderful holiday blocks--snowmen and angels. I spread my quilts on other tables--a logical progression from the start to the finish--and sit and watch. Collect my thoughts.

I always get a bit nervous before I speak. Can I bring the audience along with me as I describe my grandmother and her search for beauty? Can I help them see why I love quilts and give them a few tips? Did I bring the right quilts to help their imaginations run with ideas for their own projects?

They bring out more and more chairs. The audience grows. New members. Guests. They are right around the tables where I will speak. I get more nervous. Then I start and immediately the questions. This is a very involved group.  How do I do it? What inspires me? How had I planned the black definitions in rivers of autumn--I confess my memories of making this quilt focus more on choosing the colors of each row--waking up in the morning thinking of the next colorway to get the same ethereal effect--some intense and some lighter. The need for the little splashes of light to give the piece motion. How the colors in the corners caused me the hardest time. The black was just something I knew.

I show the progression of my quilts to blue shadows. At first they don't see the color folding onto themselves. Then they squint--get more distance. Follow the colors. Rainbow hills. Hidden lake. I have blogged about these quilts--won't go into them now. Lots and lots of questions. After the talk, my tables are swarmed with women wanting to ask more questions. Sharing their stories--they were just out in Wyoming and so loved first mountain. Hidden lake reminded one of taking off on a small airplane. Have I ever seen? What do I think of? Where do I buy fabric? They examine the samples carefully. Look at my book of photographs. I try to be attentive, responsive.

Too soon, the  break is over. They begin their regular meeting. I pack my quilts and head out to the rain--after all I have a two hour drive home and a quilt to work on tomorrow. While driving I ponder why I give these lectures. Sure it is fun having my work admired--but that also happens at craft shows and at my studio. The money is sweet--and I know there are many that depend on teaching and lectures for good portions of their income--but I prefer to make and sell my quilts.

No, it is something more. I think of the warm shared fun those women were clearly having in their bright church hall. How glad there were to see each other. Planning sewing parties. A holiday party with hand made gifts drawn at random. Shopping expeditions. So many projects and exchanges. I think of their wonderful name tags--they each had one--so different and yet so inclusive. Some with beads, embroidery. I snapped a few photos. Cropped out the names.

And my favorite. She assured me this was her house in Bermuda--although she quickly added she did not have a house in Bermuda. And she was still waiting for the palm tree to grow, she said with a smile. What a conversation starter.

Yes, I think that it is this shared warmth that I enjoy watching. The name tags so no one is a stranger. I envy this sense of belonging. I think of other groups I belong to--daylily groups with hat contests. The shared purposes of business associations and family gatherings. Thanksgiving with dear friends and good food. So many ways we connect as people.  Transcending the "stake out" in the rain  to the warmth of the so aptly named Fellowship Hall where "everyone has a name".

And you, where do you go where you have a name? Do you also have the need for both the "stake-out" and the Fellowship?  How do you create the balance?


  1. Thank you, Ann, for your lovely display and heartwarming story. I was wowed by your artistry and inspired. Your path has taken you to a beautiful place. Your blog is now on my top sites list.

  2. Thanks Mary. I also had a great time meeting your group. How special quilt making is.