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June 21, 2010


Hi Bia, yes, Im having a lovely summer. Thank you! Im headed over to your blog now to take a look. Hope things are great in Brazil.

Hope you´re in good health, your fever didn´t last long and you´re having a good (summer) time.

Your post has come to mind several times in the last few days as I madly completed a quilt for our local Art Festival. It has been just over 20 years since I finished art school and indeed I believe I have become pretty good at doing what I do. But there was a lot of forgetting and relearning along the way.
My summer plan is to go slow, heal and spend time in the garden.
Hope you are feeling better! xox

i enjoy Malcolm Gladwell's perceptions too and am definitely a believer in repetition as a path to perfecting something. in practicing that path to perfection though, time often has a way of passing without my noticing. that's when it feels right to me. at the same time, while perfection eludes me the standard of "good enough" allows me to move ahead.

my summer plan? take a short break then work my ass off.

I agree with Jude. Excellence depends on your perception, your standards and your intention. I think I prefer to learn indefinitely and accept that I may never be excellent in terms of someone else's judgement of it.
The midsummer solstice, for me, marks the middle of summer: the point at which the sun has reached its own point of excellence and begins the journey towards winter. A point in the middle, looking forwards and behind.
Hope you feel better soon.

I was actually relieved to think that, assuming I live a normal life span, it would still be possible to give something 10,000 hours. But as we know, its the journey, not the destination. As far as focus - maybe there is a way to start with a broad goal and allow the focus to emerge.
And maybe the personal is political? Bob Herbert wrote a very sobering and forthright column today in the NY Times about America and how we keep backing off from opportunities for greatness. So maybe this is something the broader culture must address as well. After all, if the biggest (if short-lived) fame and glory comes from humiliating yourself on a reality television show, or having an affair with a wealthy married man, then where is the motivation for quiet, persistent striving for excellence? It simply has to come from within.

I did some math with that figure, too - and came to the same inescapable conclusion. Which is perhaps what I find most difficult about excellence - not the time and focus to do something well, but the need to exclude so many other lovely things.

I think excellence is the ability to make sense out of something. It seems time might be irrelevant. Some people seem to manage it it less time. Some seem to have that sense of something all along. For some 10,000 hours has no effect at all and they seem to come away with out the sense of anything.
And then... excellence is a matter of perception, and most often a judgment made out of context. Like how many quilting stitches can you fit into an inch. There are some that use that as a criteria for excellence. Yet cloth can hold together in many more primitive ways than that, and some of them are quite excellent. And quilting, well, its real purpose is to hold the layers together, so it all gets quite confusing.
So for the summer, I plan to keep working with cloth in order to acquire a better sense of it and get rid of a lot of clutter in the house and fit a 2week trip to Turkey in somewhere....

one of my best friends says it all takes 10 years.and in my experience she's right.
summer plans? aizome.

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10 Qualities of Slow Cloth, by Elaine Lipson

  • I defined Slow Cloth several years ago on this blog. Read the original post at http://lainie.typepad.com/redthread/2008/01/this-must-be-th-1.html. (Copyright Elaine Lipson 2007-2011; all rights reserved).
  • Joy
    Slow Cloth has the possibility of joy in the process. In other words, the journey matters as much as the destination.
  • Contemplation
    Slow Cloth offers the quality of meditation or contemplation in the process.
  • Skill
    Slow Cloth involves skill and has the possibility of mastery.
  • Diversity
    Slow Cloth acknowledges the rich diversity and multicultural history of textile art.
  • Teaching
    Slow Cloth honors its teachers and lineage even in its most contemporary expressions.
  • Materials
    Slow Cloth is thoughtful in its use of materials and respects their source.
  • Quality
    Slow Cloth artists, designers, crafters and artisans want to make things that last and are well-made.
  • Beauty
    It's in the eye of the beholder, yes, but it's in our nature to reach for beauty and create it where we can.
  • Community
    Slow Cloth supports community by sharing knowledge and respecting relationships.
  • Expression
    Slow Cloth is expressive of individuals and/or cultures. The human creative force is reflected and evident in the work.


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Books and Reports by Elaine Lipson

Selected Articles by Elaine Lipson