Do you ever have so much to tell someone, brimming with excitement, only to sputter your words and slightly foam at the mouth, unable to speak?
Sometimes I feel that way when I am writing to all of you, because sometimes I just have so much to share and hardly know where to start. Thanks for being patient.
September was brutally unkind with its morose visit to California to see my ailing mother and the stress that ensued afterwards. It was a socially awkward time for me as we made many different changes in our store and in our commitments. In retrospect, I feel stronger because of these struggles, and grateful for the chance just to go home. Mom is overcoming obstacles everyday---the doctor recently confessed that he didn't believe that she would live to see Christmas, but now he is convinced she has a few good years left. What a blessing! What a miracle.
This is our QuiltFestival booth. Yep, prime location--right next to the ladies room.
October brought us a magical time at Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival. For the first time in years, I was able to enjoy Market as a spectator. It was wonderful! I'm sure you've seen a million photos from a million blogs, and have already seen all of the latest fabrics, so I won't bore you with an encore, but I will leave you with my favorite Market photo, which you may have already seen on my Instagram (@jessicaksloan is my handle- follow me if you would like to see photos of quilts and references to both Hall and Oates and the Wu Tang Clan, indeed). This was taken with one of my favorite designers and all around favorite people, David Butler, aka Parson Gray.
keepin' it real, that's what we do.
And now here we are, November has passed, December in the swing, and the New Year lapping at its heels already. I feel as if I am in a competitive race with Father Time, grabbing his sweater and pulling him back in an attempt to cheat and win the race. I have the Artists Syndrome: never enough hours in the day to complete my passions, and a million more hours in my mind spent dreaming up new ideas and visions. I'm so fortunate that I'm able to work so passionately and intimately with fabric, day in and day out. It is a luxury that I fully appreciate.
I've been thinking about some things.
So many people that I look up to share this one same characteristic: an unwillingness to compromise their sense of artistic composition and vision. Only the best for them. "Never Compromise" is the concise slogan for renowned jewelry designer and artist Scott Kay, whom I greatly admire. When others in the industry were using 14 karat gold, sometimes 18, Scott Kay was casting rings in 19 karat gold, a richness and eccentricity that struck my eye as a young diamond professional.
In my hands right now is my copy of Kaffe Fasset's Dreaming in Color: an Autobiography. I haven't been able to take my eyes off of it since receiving it in freight today. Being a fellow Northern Californian (and a San Franciscan byproxy, since my mother was born and raised there and we spent a vast amount of my youth there), I am enjoying his fruitful tales of the Northern California hillside. His story is narrated in such a way that you feel as if he is in the room with you, a light pinot grigio in one hand, and a charcoal in the other, sketching your portrait as he tells his life's tales as if they were a bedtime story. Whenever I see him in a Quilt Social Setting, such as QuiltMarket, I cannot help but hang on his every word in an attempt to squeeze his essence. Like bleeding a turnip, I can never seem to get enough influence.
One of the things I have learned from his narrative is to simply make art, at any capacity I am capable of making it, and worry about my style and sensibilities as they come. [I'd like to think that I've forged a unique quilting style, but upon careful analysis I realize that I am just recreating Grandma Pam's quilts. I study her as often as I study Kaffe.] I had been very concerned lately with "my place" in the quilting world, with the clash of modern and traditional. I realized that I am neither of these things, I am simply a girl who gains influence from many worlds. I derive the most influence from graffiti and fine art. Taking the labels off was liberating--I'm just sewing!
I started collecting this fabric in '04 when my friend Adam was shipped off to the Army. 8 years later, I kept my word and finished his Quilt of Valor.
My echino pillowcase! Why did I make a linen pillowcase....I don't know. I was just excited to use the echino and wanted an EASY project! I added a black flange-- even though I hate quilting anything with a flange, I'm realizing its cuteness factor. Fabric softener will probably help make this pillowcase a little more formidable.
I was reminded by Kaffe's larger-than-life stories of famous bohemians that we must always surround ourselves with like-minded or influential people. On Thanksgiving, I was thankful for all of the obvious things, like my family and Remnants and World Peace (joking! although I do want it) I was most thankful for the ability to create and the ability to study other beautifully creative people like Kaffe and Amy and the rest of my influences. I was thankful for Basquiat and the way he has changed my artistic spirit, and helped me reach an understanding of my own artistic chaos. I was thankful for Tula Pink, who changed how I view myself thru her own quiet strength. She is bombastic, yes, and comes off as larger-than-life, but there is a quietly calm confidence that radiates from her and just her innate vibration is empowering. Maybe because she has tattoos on her hands too, I can't quantify it, but she makes me feel like less of the Drama Geek of Quilting (as she so aptly put it in one of our conversations at Market!). I was thankful for Valori Wells, who "raised me" all of these years artistically. Valori never gets enough credit for her pioneer work in modern quilting--she was my Denyse Schmidt, my Amy before I had Amy, and when I was underconfident about my "obnoxious" quilts I thought about Valori and that kept me going down my own very different path!
I think a lot about Stefani Burton, and her mom Deb, owners of Country Fabrics and Quilts in Brainerd, Minnesota. QuiltMom met them at Market quite a few years back and they have been pals of ours ever since. When I started Remnants, and I wanted to give up, I thought about Stef, and how pissed she would be. (Truth!) I wanted to come back next Market, and then next, and then next, and keep sharing our expansion with them. I continue to enjoy watching Stef's quilting career grow and cheer her on by buying her patterns!
It's amazing how powerful an influence you can be in someone's life and not even know it. I am so thankful for these artists to look up to, to continue to forge bonds with thru the selling of their dry goods, and for the help expanding my own creative voice.
I must also express my gratitude for your eyes and your ears and to be able to express myself to you! Thank you for your concerns about my mom, and the cards, calls, emails and overall bids for good health. Since I don't have family in the state except for my husband, it felt like I had this huge extended quilt family to lean on. So many strong shoulders let me cry on them as I feared for the last time I would see my mom. I was (and in some capacities still am) struggling with many conflicts emotionally. My mom's illness opened a floodgate of past family issues that were crippling me. My (personal) quilting was suffering tremendously and I was just.....struggling. I can't explain it.
I feel like the past few months brought a tremendous amount of peace and clarity to my heart. I spent an hour or so talking with Amy at Market. I apologize if you were within 20 feet of us, as I have a tendency to become an English Bulldog if anyone gets close to me and Amy B. during our chit chats. Ha! I'm sorry. I'm a psycho. Amy's conversation was intimate, and I keep those talks very close to my heart, so I don't want to detail our talk, but it gave me strength, understanding and empowerment. That is what a true leader does--makes others feel like the most important person, instead of making others feel that THEY are the most important person. Amy, if you ever stumble upon this, just know that I love and appreciate you so deeply, and you inspire me everyday.
I made a commitment after AmyTalk to acknowledge and adjust to the growing stress level that running its own business manifests. I admit it! I am a human and I have mini-meltdowns when I miscut batting! The straws that break the camels' backs, eh? I'm working on it.
*******Christmas Giveaway Time!!!*************
I'd like to encourage more open dialogue on this blog, and less of me talking about....me! Please follow, Google+, comment, and so forth. It makes me feel like a comic telling jokes in an empty club!
Tell me a time when you were struggling, and what you did to overcome your obstacle. It doesn't have to be an emotional struggle--kudos if it is a quilting problem that you solved! I am gifting you 2 of this season's latest RoseCards and a half-yard of Echino linen!! YIPEE!!!! I will pick a winner (using a random number generator) next Friday, December 14th!
I just want to reiterate to you that you are innately special, and were put on this earth for a purpose. Whatever your dream and your passion is to do, don't wait---do it, and do it as passionately as you have always hoped to do. Starting Remnants was the most wonderful decision I have ever made. We only have one life, and I want my autobiography to be as colorful as Kaffe's.
Our tree is trimmed and lights up the whole showroom. So much love, hope and light in this room. Xoxoxo