Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Imperfection is PERFECT!

I'm in the middle of charting my Spanish Mystery Sampler...a few more hours to go, and then off to the model stitcher (my good friend Kathy, who is itching to get started.) The colors are lovely -- beiges/browns, a plum, a couple of reds, a pale frosty blue. Bands alternate between bands that repeat a wave of flowers or Quaker-y shapes and rows of alphabets scripty and plain. I'm a little jealous that I won't get to stitch this one, and will be anxious to get it back. These old samplers really come alive when they're re-stitched.

One of the things I love about reproducing the old samplers is the mistakes! I am the first to admit that I make (and leave in) mistakes while I stitch. I hate ripping out, and will only rip if it is going to make a huge difference in the final project. What makes a reproduction look truly authentic is those little bits that are off, just a little bit...a stitch here, a color substitution there. When designers create mirror-image/perfectly symmetrical samplers, they are lovely, but I think they end up looking a little cold. (Plus, it's not much fun to stitch half of a sampler twice.) You might notice the birds above from my "Two Angry Birds" sampler. They are *almost* perfect in their symmetry, but the bird on the left has about ten stitches of black on his wing where the stitcher may have run out of purple.

Looking at an old sampler, you don't necessarily *see* the mistakes right away. But if you reproduce a sampler, you'll come across them. I know mistakes bother some people, and there are stitchers who correct mistakes in reproductions as they go. But I think that slightly not-quite-rightness adds to the beauty of a sampler. Someone's hands added every little square, and out of 20,000 stitches, that someone was bound to get a few wrong (especially when that someone was a 9-year-old.)

There is a certain texture and loveliness to imperfection. The Mona Lisa doesn't have eyebrows, and the Venus de Milo doesn't even have ARMS for crying out loud, and they are beautiful works of art. People pay all kinds of crazy money for shabby-chic reproductions in hardwood flooring, furniture and textiles. Chipped paint is in (and can be applied NEW). A little tarnish on the silver adds depth. Dog-eared pages indicate a much-loved book.

And it was Marilyn Monroe who said, "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." Marilyn, of course, had a mole on her cheek. *MWAH* -- perfecto!


Nan ~ Threadwork Primitives said...

I totally agree :)

Peggy Lee said...

BRAVO Theresa!! I couldn't agree more. At one time I was very particular and didn't want one single stitch to differ from the chart. Thank goodness I believe differently now!
Beautiful sampler.

Kathy said...

I also agree that a mistake makes it your own.

I always think of something someone once told me. "Only God is perfect."

And contrary to popular opinion I know I am not.


natalysneedle said...

Can't wait to see your new reproduction.

Jacqueline Korteland Boller said...

I think quilters have a saying that only God is perfect and will sometimes make a mistake on purpose in their quilts.

The only mistakes I see are my own!!:)

Hillery said...

Can't wait to see the design.

Karen said...

Amen brother Ben on the leaving the "mistakes". I just makes each piece unique and you know no one else's will be like yours.

Love the new sampler...can't wait to see it finished.

Anonymous said...

I am dying to get my hands on the new piece!
I totally agree with you. In stitching Mary Wigham and Sarah Woodham, I enjoy coming across the mistakes. It is a happy reminder to me that these amazing pieces really were stitched by nine year-olds, and that I need not be completely perfect.

barbara r-g said...

i never call it a mistake. how about just your own artisitc design. who knows maybe the little girl wanted the bird to be a little different. we will never know and how fun to make up stories. love the sampler can't wait to see it finished.

Lauralee @ The Eclectic Stitcher said...

I've really had to try hard not to go correct mistakes that will not matter in a piece ~ my friends say I'm anal-retentive and maybe so. However, it's when I notice the mistakes only after I've framed the piece that just tears me up....

BTW, I never noticed the Mona Lisa didn't have learn something new every day!