Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Read This Unless You've Ever Made a Foolish Mistake

A few days ago I was sulking about my fiber art creations not making it past the juror in too many juried shows.

I was feeling the sting of rejection, but you know what?  Some of it was self-inflicted.

Read the sad truth here.

So, the Studio Art Quilt Associates ( ) was sponsoring an art quilt show called Text Messages. One of the main rules for the show was that all the quilts had to have at least some text on them.  I'd known about this for months and had ideas for three quilts to enter into it.  My ultimate choice: a formula for happiness I'd read in the New York Times a few years ago.  In that issue of the paper, a reader named Harvey Kliman wrote,

The Futile Pursuit Of Happiness

Published: September 21, 2003

As in physics, it may be time to suggest a unifying theory for happiness: Happiness = (Reality x Flexibility) / Expectations.
Harvey Kliman
Woodbridge, Conn.

I was tickled that someone thought to reduce happiness to a formula, and even though I'm not a math person, I could see the sense in its equation.  I liked it so much that I wrote it on a white board and stuck it to the side of my desk with a magnet.

Fast forward 10 years.  What more succinct way than this formula to express the factors that go into happiness?  And isn't succinctness the soul of a text message?

I decided to use that formula for my quilt, and to be on the safe side, I decided to see whether I could find Harvey Kliman and ask him for permission to use it.  Lo and behold, the man turned out to be highly Google-able.  I found him immediately.  He's a professor at Yale University.  I e-mailed him, and told him my situation.  He graciously responded immediately and gave his permission.

I set to work and produced this creation in the style called crazy quilt:
I'd sprinkled happiness-related quotes throughout the piece, such as Thoreau's "Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul."  This is a blurry image of one of those quotations, printed on a strip of fabric.
I toiled away at the piece, embellishing it with couched thread, yo-yos, beads, and whimsical flowers.  It was done 24 hours before the deadline.

As I went through the online submission process, I re-read the size requirements:  Messages must be 24 inches in width.  Length must be a minimum of 24 inches up to a maximum of 60 inches.

I got them reversed.  My piece was exactly 24 inches high, not 24 inches wide.  It was 28 inches wide and 24 inches high.


My own mistake, and an avoidable one.

So, yeah, last week, I was feeling pretty bummed about some of my art quilt failures.  But I was also feeling pretty bummed about this, too.



  1. OH, I am SO happy to know I'm in your good company. I could have written this account. Really!

    1. I guess you and I are on the same page re only learning things the hard way!