I am embarking on a new career. That is, after working in educational institutions for over 45 years, I have decided to become self-employed. That is, I am embarking on a second career focusing on textile art and design. The first stage is teaching myself to be ‘free and bold’! I want to get away from the conventional bounds that have held me in check for many years. That is—do my own thing, if I can.
Perhaps we all reach this stage at sometime. I seem to have taken longer than some others. I began quilting as a young child. Initially, I remember sitting under the table while my great aunt and my mother were stitching, listening to their family gossip, but admittedly not really understanding it all. I played with fabric, and shaped ‘garments’ around my doll.
My first machine stitching came when I was about seven or eight. My maternal grandmother’s treadle machine was brought to our house and I could just reach the peddle. Now I could ‘sew’! I loved working up the rhythm of the peddle and seeing how fast I could go. How I loved this machine and the freedom it offered me. I don’t know what happened to that machine. Yet, when my husband and I moved into a home without electricity, I was offered another Singer treadle by his aunt. I used the machine for several years to make patchwork quilts and things for my young boys. I still have this machine, although it is now used almost exclusively as a table for the audio system in our digitally enabled home.
My paternal grandmother taught me to blind stitch when I made my first dress. I was so proud of it, thinking it was the most beautiful garment in the world. Until one day, several years later when I saw a picture of me wearing the dress in the company of other young seamstresses. The hem was so wonky, I became very embarrassed. By then I had learned to recognise good craftsmanship.
In highschool and college, although I was in the academic stream, I always had at least one ‘sanity’ subject. These were Art & Design Drawing, Fashion Design and Pattern Making. During these classes I could relax and enjoy myself. My mind usually went into a restive state and I could just ‘be’. Over the years I have found that when I needed time out to restore my mental balance that I would ‘hide’ in creative activities. I have done a lot of sewing and playing with arts and crafts over the years. All with the primary purpose of maintaining a healthy balance of mental health. I guess my art & design is my way of saying to myself ‘time out’. Well now, I want to make it a primary activity rather than a secondary one.