Talking with colleagues (who also happen to be friends) can be enlightening to say the least. A work that one thinks is within heartbeats of being finished becomes a "Well . . . . hmmm . . . maybe . . . if you? . . . perhaps . . . (cough, cough, eyes tearing, nose blowing)."
Sound awful? Well, if you're really lucky and these friends are experienced art quilters, kind, and good at giving constructive criticism, you wind up feeling liberated, full of ideas and enthusiasm, and fully charged to get back to work.
Here is the piece I thought was close to being complete:
Okay, it's a photograph taken on my phone with the flash on (how did that happen? I know better! Flash can make a decent photo awful, okay, maybe just not as good as it could be). The buttons and brown coiled tulle aren't sewn in place because they'd get in the way of the quilting. All of the sewing has been done by hand so the quilting will be done by hand, too - which I'm looking forward to.
After hearing a lot of silence (you know the phrase "the silence was palpable"?), my friends finally admitted that the brown tulle was a major hurdle. What I thought was the money maker, the element that raised this piece above the pedestrian, becomes the money drain, that which makes people wince. Ha! That was the biggy, but there were several other minor issues - problems of both commission and of omission.
Here's the good part. Those same people plunged right in, explained, and suggested until I could see my way through to some possible solutions. By the end of our meeting, I was happily working on one easy fix after having decided how to salvage the tulle element in a way that will really pull the piece together.
How painful was all this? Not one bit! With a supportive group that is. This kind of group is a gift. Spending time with such intelligent, kind, and knowledgeable women is such fun and so rewarding that criticism is truly constructive instead of painful. And now I have the joy of re-imagining this piece in the same way I approach a water color study. I feel I have solid plans as well as at least some of the skills to bring it closer to a successful finish.
And I will show you when it gets to that point!