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13 January 2006



Searching for beauty is a noble quest. And as you so rightly point out, Cassie, it's not limited to outward appearances. It's a state of soul. Thanks for a lovely post.


The stitching in your quilt is drop-dead gorgeous.

The search for beauty, and the creation of it in (and sometimes out of) chaos, is what makes life bearable. And oh, when you find it unexpectedly, it makes the heart ache.


Cassie, as always, you have found such lovely words to share something so meaningful. Joy and beauty are so difficult to touch on. Fear, doubt and misery are always more readily accessible. I think we all tend to associate beauty with luxury, but searching for beauty isn't just a luxury -- as you pointed out -- it is an absolute necessity and is most often found in the day to day activities of survival. I think that if we don't make seeking beauty an intention, it always comes to us as a surprise, but when we make it our purpose it is suddenly everywhere -- still a surprise, but oh so much more than that. Thank you for such a poignant reminder today...


Thanks for this thoughtful and thought provoking post. Reading it, my mind slipped to the tangent of the Navajo "Walk in Beauty."

That quilt is spectacular and amazing!!


The part that intrigued me most was your point that cultures, no matter what the resources, create things of beauty. I wonder what it is about humans that drive us to do that.


First, the quilt. thank you for suggesting to click on it. The quilting is exquisite. I can never bring myself to quilt a pattern that is shaped differently than the piecing but it works soooo well. I can see the welsh influence and the welsh name is a nice touch (hint: w is a vowel in welsh, pronounced like an enlish u).

Your overall post is also very thought provoking, not unusual for you. I am reminded of a William Morris saying (which I will not quote properly, I'm sure) about keeping only those things that are useful or beautiful. I think that our tendency in affluent cultures to separate utility and beauty is part of the issue you refer to. The useful can also be beautiful. For example, we have the luxury of making a quilt like that and then hanging on the wall, or storing it to be brought out for exhibitions. But the Amish and the Welsh traditions on which it was based made beautiful quilts and then used them. Yes there were everyday quilts and special quilts (for weddings and so on) but all were used.


It's a great saying, simple but profound in it's way. One way to look at it is not so much to actually search for beauty, but to notice the beauty every day, in the otherwise mundane...a sunrise, the smell after a rainshower, birdsong, the sound of children playing. Things that we normally take for granted, but truly are beautiful.


First, the quilt is stunning, just stunning. I love this post. I would tend to think that THINKING about the search for beauty is probably the realm of those with priviledge, but I think we humans do it instinctively, whether we are in the lap of luxury or in the most destitute place imaginable.


I have an aunt who has a collection of Southwestern pottery - really beautiful primitive things as well as stark stunning modern examples. I was visiting her once and her daughter (who is my age) was basically saying - I don't get this stuff. For her beauty and art are European things, first world things - a gothic church, a beautiful gown, an fine antique chair.
I said - no, no, look at the shape, look at the colors, look at the fact that even though this potter's life is without privilege in any modern material sense, she has taken the time from her survival to decorate her world with exquisite precision.

And that's it - if we are only about survival, what are we creating, what are we leaving behind? There has to be a search for something more than ourselves - it can lead to religion, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Pueblo pottery, Welsh quilting, cave painting, Ukrainian eggs, Venetian glass - these objects people have left behind that continue to inspire us, warm us, connect us to our pasts...long after the individual creator has passed into history.


I guess it sounds trite to say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" when you have written so eloquently about the concept of beauty. But really, my experience is that when you LOOK for beauty, you FIND it. Which I guess is what you said, too, only much better than I.


one of the things that strikes me most about integration of beauty across cultures goes to joVE's comment about use. i think that it's a shame that privilege allows people to have one set of belongings "for their beauty" and another - often, more disposable - set for their usefulness. to me, the regular use of an object of beauty might diminish that beauty (in one sense) over time as it becomes older and worn, but the same use makes it so much more beautiful because of the human imprint that the wear and tear adds to it.


I think it is the search for beauty, where ever one may actually find it, is what so often makes life meaningful. For me with beauty comes passion and it's one of the main reasons I knit - I love the feeling I get from creating something beautiful from such simple materials. It is what helps sustain me in this crazy world where it can be so difficult to find beauty and passion - you have to take it where you find it. The feral knitter wrote a post recently that also touches on this issue of beauty and passion. You might like to read it - you both speak so eloquently. http://feralknitter.typepad.com/feral_knitter/2006/01/we_act_as_thoug.html


What lovely words you share with us today and your quilt is stunning! I have been yearning to do some quilting again, and your little quilt with it's beautiful stitching, reinforces that ;-)


To paraphrase Hamlet,

"There is nothing beautiful or otherwise but that thinking makes it so."


I just LOVE the Welsh quilting! Thanks for sharing that on another dark, gray day. A ray of sunshine!


beautiful quilt. lovely post.


You reminded me of the women who homesteaded the west and lived in hovels, lived day to day, worked the land and still made the most beautiful lace or embroidery...even snakeskin clothing. Beauty is all around we just need to be open to it, accept it and understand it is everywhere. Your post is as beautiful and complicated as the quilt you created.


Maybe I should have said as complex as the quilt? You got the idea, right?

martha in mobile

Your quilting is so lovely -- full of care, thought and intent. And so are your posts. That's why I read your blog. Thank you.


JoVE and Heather bring up an important (I think) point about the daily use of beauty. William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement tried to make the point that you should have beautiful things around you for daily use. I sell handwoven blankets, throws, towels, etc, and am frequently told that my stuff is "too pretty to use". What does that mean? You don't deserve anything nice? Even my mother puts the stuff away in a drawer and won't use it. I don't get it.


We are obviously biologically programmed to seek/need beauty. As a complete and utter optimist, I am of the mind that beauty can be found everywhere, even in the most mundane and ordinary surroundings. As to physical beauty, it is truly a double-edged sword: I know some remarkable people for whom many doors have opened simply because they're great looking folks. Of course, that does a number on their heads because they know that they're being judged on the most superficial of all criteria and not for the content of their character. I'm ashamed to admit that I've been guilty of that in the past and have understimated someone's intelligence precisely because she was such the glamorous beauty-queen type. I was dead wrong about her and learned a lot from the experience.

Great post, amazing quilt. Thanks for the food for thought.


I love the quilt! It is gorgeous and intricate!

Cassie, much of what you said resonates with me. Slightly before my dad died, he told me that one of my strengths was finding and enjoying beauty in the world. And I hold onto that and think about it not unlike you and your "Search for Beauty."


"'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"
John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Lee Ann

My search for beauty led me to the person I married two years ago, and I'm still surprised at the beauty a simple gesture from him can engender, because it's genuine. Keats got it right on that score. As for creating beauty, you've done just that with the quilt and this post.


Yep. Beautiful quilt (the stitching is just stunning!). Beautiful post. I think there is definitely something to be said for humans seeking beauty where and when we can find it. It's not a matter of being able to afford luxurious things, but of a certain amount of grace in living your daily life--a farmer taking a moment to admire the colors of the sunset after a long day--a caveman painting on a wall--a red thread worked into a blanket. They're not necessarily "big" things, but they are the important ones, like love, like laughter. You can live without them, but . . . why bother?

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