I spoke (at great length!) to the Mississippi Quilter's Assn last night and had a blast. They seemed to enjoy the talk and the quilts, and I've been approached about speaking to 5 or 6 other guilds for their programs later in the year. Only 2 agreed on for sure, but I passed out a ton of cards. I could definitely get hooked on a roomful of 150 people clapping and laughing and ooohing and ahhhhhing at the appropriate times. I've been sweating this since they called me last summer to ask if I'd do a talk on embellishments, but I didn't have notes or an outline or anything. I figured if I can't talk for 45 minutes on something I'm so passionate about, then I probably need to get a real job. Well, THEY said 45 minutes to talk but it was more like an hour. I had no idea I went that long, honest! The most surprising thing to me was that so many quilters don't consider themselves artists. They've never thought about all of the principles of art they use every time they decide on fabric color, or border width or finished size of the quilt. With the exception of a quilt made from a kit or duplicated exactly, right down to the fabrics, there is an element of art (some good, some truly horrid, but art nonetheless) in every quilt.
One of the questions was "How do you know when you're finished with something?" It was a good question even though I wasn't prepared for it. Surprisingly, most of the audience seemed to actually understand my response of "When it says what you want it to say, in your own voice, you are finished." I can get a bit woo-woo when trying to explain that a piece should SPEAK to you on more levels than just visually, but they seemed to grasp what I was getting at pretty readily.
The most satisfying thing though, was the fact that there were a bunch of women there from my old guild. You know, the ones who laughed or zoned out or turned their noses up at the few pieces of embellished or art quilting that I ever got up the nerve to show at the regular meetings. My work wasn't good enough, or quilt-like enough, or "real quilting" until the state guild decided it was. Funny how many of those women suddenly decided it was acceptable once I had the official seal of approval. But, if I managed to spark a little creativity in even one person in the room, then it's all good.