Friday, May 11, 2007

Forty Years
My friend Emily is having her fortieth birthday today and is having a contest (go enter!) which invites the reader to leave a comment to commemorate the day.
I am having a hard time remembering when I was forty, even tho it was only 19 years ago. The mind remembers the fabulous times and the very icky times, but the bland times don't have the same sticking power.
I guess I was coasting that year...with a dull icky job, in a crummy neighborhood, wondering whatever would become of me. I thought I would have 'made it' by 30 and here I was already 40 and nothing had happened. I had not yet started dyeing fabric. Hadn't met Laura Wasilowski, who was to become my business partner for years, and had not yet gotten my free ride to graduate school. Everything was just about to happen, but it was all invisible on the dark edges of my future.
What would make it all come together? Fate or a Grand Master Plan?
A series of mysterious events occured. I was making quilts. I had no quilting friends, or friends of any kind. None. Zero.
I went alone or with my mother to local quilt shows. I saw magazines with art quilts in them. I felt a connection. I wanted to make stuff like Michael James and Nancy Crow and Caryl Fallert.
I knew nothing.
I found out about Japanese quilts from books at quilt shows. I saw an article about a Japanese man who dyed his own fabric. I tried dyeing with Rit. In the microwave (not a good idea, but hey, it worked for a while).
I decided to find a quilt guild. I would join and meet someone. Anyone. I was very isolated and lonely. I did find a quilt guild. I did enter their show which was like a month after I joined. I had a surplus of quilts and entered, uh, like eleven. This did not endear me to the group. I was considered a pushy upstart. My quilts were not regular, or bed things. O boy. I won several prizes, but not friends.
But I kept trying and soon I met someone (Zelig) who belonged to another guild besides mine and took me to a meeting to see Caryl Fallert give a lecture. On the way we stopped to pick up her friend, Laura Wasilowski.
Click click click. Bing!
Not that Laura liked me immediately or even soon. But it was fate or The Grand Master Plan unfolding itself.
I could go on to recount the next series of events or several years of miracles that followed, but the real story is that sometimes we just don't know what tomorrow will bring. One must take a step, move forward and reach out to get what is waiting...it takes just a step of faith.

14 comments:

  1. That was a very sweet story of the beginning of your quilt odyssey. Thanks for sharing! :-)

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  2. ...and just think of the adventures and friendships that lie ahead in the next part of your life in a new area of the country.

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  3. What an important message for all of us to ponder. I am so glad that whatever force was behind your destiny, it brought you to where you are now. The quilting community is forever richer for it. Thanks.

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  4. Looking back keeps one humble.

    Thanks for the window into your work and world.

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  5. Anonymous10:42 PM

    You are the one who got me started dyeing. I had piles of books, but never really never knew where to dive in. After attending one of your classes and getting the chance to work with your hand dyes got me hooked! Thanks for opening the door for fusing and dyeing! Keep on blazing the trails! You have a lot of us also trying to find our way in the art world and may use one or two of your trails to find our own individual way! Thanks! Debby in NC

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  6. Melody..

    I, for one, would LOVE to hear more about the "years and miracles" that followed. The woman that you describe in the beginning of your entry describes me almost perfectly....except that I am 55 and have waited waaaayyyy too long to take that step of faith.

    I spent the most blissful day today dyeing fabric....and buying wonder-under. Thank you so much for being so giving. I have needed a mentor for a long time. I too have dreamed of making quilts like Michael James, Nancy Crow and Caryl Fallert...but I would have to put Melody Johnson at the top of my list.

    Everyone who knows me knows that you're my favorite quilter...but I am OBVIOUSLY not the only one!! We were in New Orleans in January and while exploring all of the shops and galleries, we came upon this incredible artist...a guy who won first place in the world doing bodypainting. He has this incredible shop with photographs of his paintings (on people!! Unbelievable!!) and my husband and I ended up in an hour-long conversation. My husband makes his living as an artist too and they had a lot of interest in each other's work. Just before we left he looked at me and said "Are you an artist too?" and I immediately said no, but my husband said "Of course you are!! She's an award-winning quiltmaker!!" (big deal...first place in a county competition). This artist looked at me and started telling me animatedly about this "incredible" quiltmaker whose work he'd found on the internet and proceeded to lead us over to the huge screen of his Mac...and (drum roll please), as soon as he touched the keyboard and the screen jumped to life, there was your gallery!! My husband looked at me and we both started laughing...of COURSE it was your gallery!!!

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  7. I was just telling Terry last night that you've been quilting for 15 years already...when I realized I'd been saying you've been quilting for 15 year for some uncounted number of years, which means you've been quilting....how many years now? Anyway, my point was that you've got some stuff already figured out that I'm just learning.

    But I have a great teacher.

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  8. Anonymous8:15 AM

    What a great story! It is reassuring to those of us who feel like we are on the outside looking into a world we want to join to know that you were once in the same situation. And look at you now!

    I have been reading your blog for ages and enjoy your energy and creativity immensely. Thanks!

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  9. You rock Mel. Thank you for the post :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. bonnie4:21 PM

    What a wonderful journey...may the road keep turning and the sun keep shining.....

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous10:07 PM

    Sometimes, someone says just the right thing, and it goes out into cyberspace and we quilters get a chance to touch base...thank you for sharing your journey, and for giving all of us a touch stone. We create, we try new things, we are artists disguised as moms and sisters and workers and a million other things...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for your encouraging story about life in your early forties. Just what I needed to read today. Because, you could have been describing me where I am right now in my life. So... its nice to be reminded that there could be hope! More than hope, an exciting life ahead even!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That was the most inspiring thing I've read all week! What a great story! Thanks for sharing it! And so much of yourself. Wow! ...

    ReplyDelete
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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com