A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
Yes, I’ve finally fully retired from professional machine quilting. Under doctor orders, I’m limited in the amount of time I can swing the heavy machine for quilting. To continue full time quilting would damage my arm even further.
What now? Well, I think it’s finally time for me to get serious about creating art. What type art? Cardboard art? Textile art? Drawing? Painting? Sculpture? I love them all but I must choose what I wish to do most. I still love the idea of creating portraits in fabric. It would fulfill a lifelong dream of creating portraits. Too late to learn to draw them but fabric would work.
About six years ago I took an online portrait class with Margaret Bucklew. She is the wonderful person who agreed to have a class of only two people so I could take the class before my Christmas quilt rush season started. In the six years since taking her class I have not created the first portrait quilt. Not a single one. Ugh! I have actually taken her class twice and still not created one portrait quilt using her technique.
For me, quilting for customer commitments always took priority over everything else which left no time for creating. I don’t have that problem anymore. I’m fully retired from professional machine quilting. Don’t get me wrong, I love my customers like family. Our lives are connected through the quilts. I am going to miss them a lot.
I can’t blame my lack of creating solely on quilting for a living. My neighbors have taken a lot of my time too. In my neighborhood no one respects working at home as a “real” job. Everyone believes because I am at home that I’m just like them. To them, working at home means I don’t have to actually work. The money just magically comes rolling in. The neighbors believe I set around watching tv and movies the same as they do because, of course, I wave my magic wand, push a button, and the quilts start magically cutting and sewing themselves together.
The neighbors believe I’m free to go gamble with them at the mere mention of going. Bingo and casinos are very popular around here. Um…. that doesn’t sound right but it’s true. My neighbors are dependent on others for their life. Food stamps, welfare, food banks, and social services of all types yet they find the money for gambling. A few have menial jobs but the majority don’t. Their logic is that since I’m home all day too I must be as dependent on social services as they are. Therefore, I don’t have any work to do or deadlines to meet. Strange logic but that’s life in the ghetto. I live in the wrong neighborhood for entrepreneurship. The neighbors see what my job is yet it doesn’t click that I’m actually working to earn a living.
I can’t machine quilt full time anymore and creating art is an alternative. The pieces can be small and easily quilted which shouldn’t cause too much strain on my arm. Creating art doesn’t have a deadline unless I plan to enter a contest or something. Creating for my own pleasure can be on whatever schedule I set for myself.
I have been considering renting space in an art center not far away just so I can get away from the neighbors. I believe it would also be a good atmosphere for me to relax. My neighbors do understand leaving home everyday to go to work but they don’t understand working at home. The place is called the Mellwood Art Center. Click the link to check it out. I used to work at that packing plant, in the bookkeeping department, before I started quilting for a living.
My retirement budget is very tight. The rent for a space in an area away from heavy traffic on an upper floor is around $150 a month including utilities. I really don’t need a fancy space although a window would be nice so I could have sunlight. I just need a small room away from distractions to create in peace.
I wouldn’t need much stuff. A few templates and rotary cutter, sewing machine, thread, design wall, a table, my bags of selvages, a bin of scrap fabrics, a lap top computer (when I can afford it), and that’s about it. Basically I would be creating a studio sewing space without the quilting machine.
Getting away from interrupting neighbors and being surrounded by artists sounds very appealing. I could very easily be tempted to rush into renting a space. I must keep my thinking realistic though. I need a plan. This time, succeed or fail, is my final attempt to create art. I don’t want to rush because haste means making mistakes. Take my time. Enjoy the process. Test out a few artistic techniques to find my own artistic voice. Try not to embarrass myself too much when asking questions of teachers through email. Yup, I did already, but that’s another story.
Time to get back to the fair entry quilts. The days are going by very fast.