Saturday, December 22, 2007
I sew because I have to-it is just that simple. After a long day hunched over my computer dealing with the vagaries of English spelling, clumsy syntax and wayward grammar, not to mention computer crashes and arbitrary and demanding clients, I look forward to time spent with my needle and thread, the tactile delight of cloth in my hands and the pleasure of working with color and form-nothing is more life-sustaining and yes, it has to be said-more therapeutic.
I am a graphic designer by training and profession and a writer by happenstance. Both of these activities are intensely rewarding and have become like second nature to me. However, unlike design and often writing, which are by nature and necessity cooperative, collaborative enterprises requiring the interaction of other people, sewing is mine and mine alone-no opinions to ask, no advice to solicit, no expertise to borrow, not even, especially not even, from those nearest and dearest to me. Mine! I sew only in the evenings-but almost every evening. (It is no a hobby-I consider it to be my "other" job.) When events overtake me and keep me away from my needle, threads and boxes of beautiful cloth I become a wretchedly unhappy, cranky person, adrift and without a rudder or anchor. Sewing is as important a part of my life and my "paid" job and it is woven seamlessly in to my other occupations.
I started to quilt when I was a small child sitting with my mother and my aunts over a quilting frame. I continued to sew, albeit intermittently, as I went through high school and college. After I left teaching for a period and with two small children, I became a fulltime freelance graphic designer and once again took up my needle in earnest. After making small cloth dolls for my children and friends, I made a doll for designer Alexander Girard, who asked me to make a large number of them the new Textiles & Objects shop he was designing in New York City for the Herman Miller Furniture Company. Over the next few years (in the early 1960's), I made nearly 2,000 dolls for the shop and for Girard's exhibition projects. And I am still sewing and quilting.
My quilts usually take about a year (sometimes longer) to piece and quilt, so my production has never been prodigious. I never give myself a time deadline (unlike my work as a designer) and I often don't know as I begin a new quilt (or doll) exactly where I am going to end up. It is always a journey of pleasurable discovery. And as some wise person once remarked, "Inch-by-inch, everything is a cinch."
Marilyn Neuhart, October 2001