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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Secret Life of Symbols


When I was teaching in Tampa, at Keep Me in Stitches, I had the pleasure of talking with an old student. 


I've been teaching now for almost 30 years, so it's not uncommon to find people who'd had class with me teaching, writing, creating amazing art and winning awards. Students in the quilt world are not like students in other places. They're often experts in their own right. They're there in class to pick your brain, but they've already got amazing skills. So it's not like that student owes you very much. They're another traveler, perhaps out ahead, perhaps a step or two behind. But you've showed them a cool trick or two and they may well have showed you as well. It's more like meeting a pilgrim on a similar path.


I used to give everyone three scraps of fabric:A red badge of Courage, a green lunatic fringe and a purple heart, because if you're doing brave things, of course they're shooting at you. At some point, in the four thousand things that have to get done before class, I stopped. 


I also always used to wear a badge. At one point someone gave me the most wonderful bug pin. I put it on my badge and it was part of it. At another point, I lost it. No one seemed to miss it.
My old student asked me if I was still giving badges. I think I had him in class 15 years ago.
It still mattered to him.


Every so often, someone would stop me and tell me they lost their badge. I gave them explicit permission to make another for yourself or for someone else. 


Perhaps the badges need to come back. Am I as brave as I need to be? Are my students? Are any of us?


A sacrament is an outside sign of an inward grace. A symbol can be one too. An ordinary person can stand behind a curtain, make a great deal of noise and convince people to be brave and have heart simply by giving them one. But if works???????????????


Should I start making badges again?
Do we need the lunatic fringe rampant?
Would you stand in the lunatic fringe?

2 comments:

71square said...

I think I need to make myself a badge!

beckypb said...

YES! This journey we are on is multi-dimensional and I think we need the lunatic fringe rampant. Our sharing and support of one another in creativity as we are on this journey makes the difficult times worthwhile - I'll stand in the lunatic fringe!

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