The Smithsonian Collection: High Time to Get Started

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The Smithsonian Collection: High Time to Get Started

Hello, Friends!

I can’t tell you why it’s taken me so long to get to this point, but I CAN tell you that I’m thrilled and relieved to be here. The Smithsonian Diamond Quilt Series has been a dream of mine for years. I’ve selected the first gemstones I want to interpret in fabric and have been dreaming about them all this time. I’ve even been chatting about them in my trunk shows and classes.

So why don’t I have even ONE piece completed yet?

Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and the National Gem Collection
Specimens of the Mineral & Gem Department of the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution); photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Succumbing to the Fears

It all boils down to fear. Yeah, the chick who talks ALL THE TIME about choosing joy over fear struggles with that choice constantly. Truly, when I talk about choosing joy over fear I’m really talking to myself — trying to give the internal MJ a pep talk.

So what fears?

Let Me Count the Ways

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) for starters. When the world shut down, all my teaching gigs were cancelled – just as they were for all of us travelling teachers. I decided that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, so learned all I could about how to Zoom, create/edit videos, and and teach quilt classes online. I didn’t want to be left out and, of course, I was worried about money. So last year was all about scrambling up the steep learning curve of technology and trying to find my way through the COVID fog.

Fear of Letting People Down was also a factor. There are so many amazing opportunities out there and I wanted to say YES! to all of them. Consequently, my schedule was crushed. Creating, marketing, and prepping for online quilt classes and experiences like the Elizabeth Sew-Along, the “Treasure Hunting” class, the “Holiday Jewel Box” class, and the “Shine Online” video editing class was all-consuming. I loved every minute of it and getting to know the amazing quilters who shared the journey with me. How could I drop the ball on any of these projects when these amazing quiltmakers were investing time and money with me?

Other Joys Can Also Get in the Way

And there were other wonderful things that happened last year, too, that simply got in the way of my own art. The release of a new book, Gemstone Quilts (by C&T Publishing) and the marketing marathon that goes along with publication was another factor. And finally, planning, marketing, and prepping for the current Tiny Treasures Club (which launched in January) and Diamonds & Drama Queens block of the month (which began this month) occupied most of December and the first quarter of this year.

So how to shoehorn in my own art?

It’s Simply A Choice

The simple answer is “Make time.” I finally realized that the time I’ve spent in my studio creating my diamond quilts is EXACTLY what allowed me the opportunity to develop all these programs and quilt classes. The art drives these other adventures.

I also realized that I need that alone time to tend to my own creative spirit. While creating patterns for my classes is fantastic, there’s something about starting a gigantic project that is like nothing else. Watching a piece come together — a piece that you’ve been dreaming about for years — is an amazing experience. My heart and soul were hungry for that experience again.

I asked a few people to be my Accountability Partners for my own work and they’ve been doing a wonderful job kicking my behind.

Introducing The Victoria Transvaal Diamond

The Victoria Transvaal diamond of the National Gem Collection. This is the first diamond I'll interpret for my gemstone quilts collection.
The Victoria Transvaal Diamond; photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

So here’s the first post of what I plan to be a weekly series documenting the creation of the Smithsonian Diamond Quilt Series. I hope you’ll join me as I select, chart, assemble, and quilt the art that has spent enough time occupying my brain. These gemstone quilts now need to occupy a physical place in my quilt studio.

The first piece I’m working on is the Victoria Transvaal diamond. The VT is a spectacular 67.89-carat, cognac-colored, pear-shaped, brilliant-cut diamond valued by the Smithsonian at an eye-popping $20 million.

What makes it so valuable and so rare is that it is nearly flawless and has 116 facets, rather than the typical 58 facets of most modern brilliant-cut diamonds. This baby SPARKLES! I’ll share more information about her history in the next post. Until then, here’s a quick peek at the charting process. (See video below.) This time-lapse segment condenses about 90 minutes of work. More to come! Meanwhile, you can learn more about this gorgeous gem by visiting the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

You can also check out my previous gemstone quilts by visiting my website MJKinman.com. Shine on!

The Victoria Transvaal diamond at the Smithsonian Institution. It's the first diamond I'll interpret in my Smithsonian Diamond Quilt Series of gemstone quilts.
The spectacular Victoria Transvaal diamond; photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

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