I was happily engaged, clicking the next button from quilt to quilt on Jenny Bowker’s site, and imagining questions I would ask her if I ever was in a position to enjoy a face to face conversation.
1) Could you name a few persons you might choose as role models (of desirable values) for your daughter, since Barbie obviously does not meet the standard.
2) What did the water taste like from the water fountains in Damascus? Was it as good as the coffee?
3) You mentioned that the pictures on the walls in your house give you places to go to when you are dreaming. Could you describe some of those travels? Are they as vivid as the physical travels you embark on?
4) Why did you reveal the text on your Hearthstones quilt after stating that it was not really meant to be read? Do you expect that your curiosity must always be satisfied?
5) If you tallied your reactions, which would win: looking forward, or looking back?
But then I entered Twisted Thread and was confronted by two stunning images of quilts “based on portraits of tradesmen in Egypt.” They were frustratingly small, so I went hunting. Luckily, her blog, Postcards From Cairo, revealed the pair I sought, and a few other gems that would rival any found in a Sultan’s palace. (Also see her Flickr Photostream.)
Twisted Thread contains the following quote:
[Bowker] believes that because we spend most of our lives wrapped in cloth, people respond to textiles in ways that they do not respond to paint on canvas and this is indicated by the way people want to reach out and touch the work. It gives quilters a specific language that relates especially to women.
I think I will have to adjust my previous list of questions to add a sixth:
6) What led you to choose male tradesmen as a subject for a traditionally female art form? Did the irony appeal to you?
I happen to be one of those persons who does reach out to touch paintings, especially when there is mixed media involved. Also, my paper quilts end up being quite hard surfaced (much like leather). No-one would want to, or be able to, sleep under one of them. Nevertheless, I did not take umbrage with these remarks as I continued to explore the Bowker universe. Her bio included a science background, and a husband who is a diplomat. Wide travel has imbued Bowker’s work with a flavor and flare that truly arouses the senses.
And then I found the pearl, a statement that so resonated with my purpose that it caused my being to reverberate to its clarion call:
I teach and really enjoy it. There is no greater delight than to offer tools to a quilter who wants to make original work but doesn’t know how to access her own ideas.
It’s such a simple, precise statement; so matter-of-fact. Yet, it expresses a very high calling~one which I also aspire to. How fitting that Jenny Bowker is a tradesperson herself, employing her tools to facilitate others in the construction of their own, original work.