Today I’d like to interrupt my ongoing, insanely dull series of posts about shows, new work, and publications to make an announcement: I haven’t been using a longarm machine.
When I encounter people at shows, they will often ask me this question: “Have you been using a longarm?” No. I have not. From time to time, I’ll see a comment on a blog or a discussion list which will state that thus-and-such piece of work was created using a longarm. No. It was not. I’ve been using a fairly standard domestic machine, a Bernina 440QE. It’s a very nice machine, the nicest I’ve had in my life. However – not a longarm. It has about an 8 1/2″ throat, I think.
To continue in this vein:
Flooded – not stitched with a longarm.
A Gift from Earth – not stitched with a longarm.
Siesta – Also not stitched with a longarm.
Anything else I’ve ever created? Also not stitched with a longarm. It has just been me and my flagon of espresso, shoving the danged work back and forth under the Bernina, trying to not make my thoracic outlet syndrome flare up.
I’m not sure why people want to believe that I’ve been using a longarm. One possibility is that they suspect a sane person wouldn’t try to densely stitch largish pieces on a standard domestic machine. (They are correct.) Another possibility – and I base this on the panicked expressions on people’s faces when I say “actually, you can thread paint with whatever machine you have” – is that they lack confidence. Maybe there’s something they’d like to do or try, but they’re afraid of “failure”. If something was done with a high end machine, it means it’s out of their reach and they don’t have to risk that “failure”.
My experience is, there’s no substitute for sitting down with a cup of coffee and giving something a try. I’ve made many a cleaning rag when painting fabric, and had to start over – a set of teeth which resembled Chicklets come to mind. “Failure” just isn’t a big deal. The only people who don’t “fail” are the ones who don’t try to do anything.
That said, I will make a confession – I’m tired of flirting with the thoracic outlet syndrome and setting a timer for a break every 15 minutes. I do have a crib-sized machine quilting frame and a Bailey 13″ on order. I’m going to give them a try to see if they’ll make certain tasks easier. However, I don’t NEED this stuff. I can create without it – and so can you.