I have my ups and downs in life, like we all do.
There are times I’m aware that I’ve been relatively fortunate in life and with the work I’ve chosen to do: I grew up in suburban/borderline rural Indiana and now live in New York City, making a (meager) living as a costume designer primarily for theater. Despite understanding that I’ve had some really great opportunities presented to me, every once and a while, I can sometimes forget that. There are times I wish for more. I have a tendency to compare myself unnecessarily to my colleagues and the people ahead of me in the theater food chain.
I’m proud of who I am as a person; I’ve got a great education, I’m healthy, people seem to like me, I adopted a dog who really is one of the best things about my life. However, as I grow into myself as an adult, some parts of my life don’t thrill me. Some of these faults are trivial and silly, yet others could unfortunately get worse if I don’t try to correct them.
Somehow, back in late 2012, after seeing Margaret Rolfe’s Peace Quilt online, I had the idea that I could adapt the Japanese legend of the Thousand Origami Cranes into this “A Thousand Quilted Cranes Project.” I decided this life project (because I’m aware it will take years to finish; I’ll become okay with that) will be a proactive way for me to start thinking about change and gratitude and the path my life has taken. Because I’m a little overly Type-A, I set some rules:
1) I’ll attempt to sew one Crane block a day, choosing a new fabric combination each time. Ideally, each fabric will be used once (UPDATE: that lasted until Crane #41).
2) Each Crane that I sew will be dedicated to someone who has left an impression on my life- however small or large, positive or negative. I really do believe I wouldn’t be here (in New York, in theater, or even alive) without the connections I’ve managed to cultivate in my life. If each Crane is to be a silent prayer, of sorts, for the life I’ve lived and am living, then I should take a moment and think about who got me to where I am today. Yes, I know this means I need to think of 1000 human influences that I’ve hopefully personally encountered. I think they’re there.
3) When the first “phase” of this project is finished, each Crane will be stitched together. Originally, I thought to sew them together one by one, forming a long banner that would serve as a literal timeline for the project and also a timeline to the humans with whom I’ve connected. However, as I’ve worked on this, I realize I might shift things around. I had the idea to shift the Cranes out of order, and make it a color sequence. I’ve also thought about making this into a gigantic wall-hanging, trying to see if this could perhaps become an exercise in Pointillism.
4) Take this project, like life, ONE DAY AT A TIME.
I have no idea what this project will turn into or look like at its completion. By allowing myself the realization that I will be working on this for years, I’m trying to remove the pressure to finish a certain product. Hopefully time will tell me what the “A Thousand Quilted Cranes Project” wants to be.
So, my goals are: to sit down and do this project in the time that it needs , to think about the people that these cranes will represent, to reflect on the idea that I started this project hoping to elicit change, and to pursue that change as I can, however it needs to be… Piece by piece. Stitch by stitch. Block by block.
One day at a time. One step at a time.