Sharon B’s May challenge relates to the question of what we, who work with textiles, call ourselves and why. Are we artists, craft makers, quilters or something entirely different? This is a vexed and thought provoking question, open to individual interpretation – so here goes….
I have never been comfortable calling myself an artist of any sort – to me the term implies possessing a natural talent and the ability to produce a real piece of visual art; skills can be taught and one can learn to make items that follow design principals and are pleasing, but it is a sometimes a struggle for those with less ability. Despite coming from a family rich in this natural artistic talent, I’m sorry to say it missed me entirely but has surfaced again in the next generation. I may be creative, but I have to work hard at it.
I’m also hesitant to call the sort of textile work I do “craft”, as that term reminds me of the fabric covered tissue boxes and similar things I used to make a million years ago, and I now consider crass. According to one definition I found, a craftsman is an artisan who practices a handicraft or trade, often in the field of decorative arts, using natural materials such as wood, clay, glass, textiles or metal and his work exhibits craftsmanship – that is, made to a high standard and highly valued.
Over the years I have made clothes, learnt tailoring, embroidery, cross stitch, crewel work, canvas work, machine embroidery, patchwork, and quilting. I guess if I had to use one word, my preferred description of myself would be as a needlewoman because my current textile work involves so many of these different (learnt) skills and relies on attention to detail to produce a good result than the artistic talent I envy in others.
I look forward to see how people interpret this challenge, or whether they use the colour palette below instead. At this stage I do not have any great ideas, and these pastel colours are not those I might normally use, except maybe the blues………….