My Creative Manifesto

Is it like this for other avocations? Do hobbyists in other arenas continually question what they do, why they do it, where their mojo will come from? Or are quilters unique in this way?

I’ve written about it. Why do I quilt? What do I get out of it? Is it enough? What should I do when it is not enough? How do I define myself?

Others write about it, too. They write about being in a slump, a funk, at a cross-roads. They wonder where inspiration will come from, how they can get their mojo back. Examining who they are as crafters and why they quilt may lead them back to more joy and excitement.

Sarah at Thrift Store Crafter wrote about how she defines herself. She says

I have read some things on blogs lately that have inspired me to start drafting a personal crafting/quilting manifesto just to clarify my own thoughts on what kind of artist I want to be. This is a work in progress and the items are in no particular order.

Her list includes things like

  • I don’t have to finish it.
  • I will share my knowledge.
  • I will be open to learning from others and grateful for what they share.
  • I will consider my creations art.
  • I will credit those who inspired me. (Hello? It’s called ethics!)

I love the idea of the list (I love lists!) because when we consider our self-image as quilters, when we see who we are today and who we want to become, we also consider where our satisfaction stems from. Is it from design, execution, giving, teaching? If you test patterns for others and don’t find it nurturing, is there a reason to do it again? If your love is in sharing your knowledge, don’t you need to find more ways to do that?

I think self-definition helps provide the inspiration and motivation to continue growing in our craft.

With no further ado, and totally copying from Sarah’s format, here are some thoughts on who I am as a quilter, and “what kind of artist I want to be.”

  • I am creative, which means I create.
  • Transforming things creatively is part of transforming me.
  • Writing is part of my creative expression.
  • I include me in all of my work.
  • I try new things, even if it scares me.
  • I practice skills and don’t wait for the skills fairy to wave her magic wand.
  • I learn from frustration.
  • I take advantage of opportunities to grow.
  • I don’t have to do everything or like everything I do.
  • I help, teach, encourage, and try to inspire others.
  • I credit others for their work and words.
  • I value others’ work, even if I don’t like it.
  • I respect the history of quilting by learning more about it.
  • I respect the present and future of quilting by being part of it.
  • I am open to new ways of doing familiar things.
  • I say “thank you.”
  • Materials are to use, not hoard.
  • I share.

Some of these are aspirational, but saying them as statements of what I AM helps reinforce that this is the person I want to be, and can be.

Who are you? What is important to you as a quilter? What would be on your manifesto?


15 thoughts on “My Creative Manifesto

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Chela! Believe it or not, I don’t think I saw this comment before. You posted it more than a year ago! I just skimmed through this post again and thought about updating it. Thanks as always for reading and commenting!

  1. Angie Mc

    Hi, Melanie, thanks for connecting with me. WOW do I love what I see here. Ever since I saw the ladies building their quilts together in the church basement, I’ve always admired quilts and thought to myself, “Someday I’ll make my own.” Someday hasn’t arrived just yet but I’ve noticed that life continues to provide me with wonderful surprises, so who knows?

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for taking a look. Making a quilt doesn’t need to be as complex as I make it! My first several quilts were just squares stitched together. I love them just as much as my more recent work. And those they were given to do, too.

  2. Pingback: The Calling within… | Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog

  3. snarkyquilter

    Gmail finally delivered your original post this morning, so now I understand all those comments. I don’t know if I have a quilter’s manifesto, but here are some of the guideposts of my quilting activities.
    -Have fun and get messy, as Ms. Frizzle used to say
    -Don’t take yourself too seriously
    -There’s no rule that can’t be broken, but be prepared for possible adverse consequences.
    -Admire the great work of others but don’t try to slavishly copy it as you probably won’t pull it off.
    -There’s nothing new under the sun so give credit where it’s due
    -Expose yourself to as many great quilts as possible in all styles. (Thank you, Pinterest.)

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Those are great guideposts. I had to look up the word “manifesto” to make sure I understood what it implied. It’s basically a public declaration or statement of your goals and values. You have now publicly declared, so I guess it IS a manifesto!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s interesting to see what others have to say.

  4. Sarah

    I’m so glad I inspired you to put these thoughts down in writing. You didn’t copy me at all. I used numbers and you used bullets! LOL! It’s been interesting to hear the thoughts of others on the topic. I’m glad for the contemplation and discussion it prompted.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      I know, huuuge difference. MY chevrons were orange, but yours were aqua. 😉

      Did you have other feedback on your post? I’d love to see a follow-up.

      Thanks for coming by.

  5. Thread crazy

    Melanie – one additional comment… sometimes I too get in a funk which may last for a few days to a few weeks, and I find myself just struggling. Then, as if I flipped a switch, I will wake up one night with ideas and thoughts and know I am ready to create. Even some of my quilting buddies face and feel the same thing. Maybe this is what all “creative” individuals experience. Could it be this happens because we start setting deadlines on ourselves? Not sure; I do know what I love to do and my goal is to make the most of every day doing it..

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      Deadlines can hurt and help, I think. Working on deadline ALL the time, though, I think pushes us to do quickly, rather than greatly. And it burns me out. This year has been unusual for me. Since fairly early in the year, I haven’t had any deadline I needed to meet with my quilting, other than self-imposed ones for the blog. It’s been great to feel more freedom that way. Thanks for the thought.

    2. Jim in IA

      Often, I can tell there is something stewing in the recesses of my mind. Just not sure what it is. But, it just sits there and taps its fingers. Then, I read a story, see a picture, hear a song, … , and it triggers an idea to crystalize. It feels good when it happens.

    1. Melanie in IA Post author

      How does it work for you? Do you think a lot about it, wonder about direction you’ll take? Or are you on a sure path? I don’t know for sure which way I’ll go, what I’ll be doing in 3 or 5 years. But I know creative expression is essential to me. After having it turned off for many years, now the switch is flipped, and it needs to stay that way.

      Thanks for stopping to read and comment.


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