Just a Hobby: Don’t Hold Back Passion

Creativity takes many forms. Simply working here I see proof of that—and I don’t just mean quilts!

Fons & Porter is part of The Quilting Company, which is in turn part of F+W Media, which serves so many different types of enthusiast groups, it’s astounding—Writer’s Digest for writers, Popular Woodworking for woodworkers, North Light for fine artists, HOW for graphic designers, and Interweave for fiber and jewelry crafts. And that’s just a few!

One of the most creative people I know, though, doesn’t work here. In fact, he started as a mechanic, and now runs a service department at a car dealership.

It’s my brother.

We’re not a mechanical family by any means. My dad likes fine cars, but was never the type to fuss around under the hood, so I have no idea where my brother’s passion for cars came from, but passion it is.

And you should never try to hold back a creative passion. In fact, I’m not sure you can.

My brother’s proof of that. He followed the rules. Sure, it was nice that he liked cars, but that was “just a hobby.” He was told that if he wanted to afford an expensive hobby like that, he needed a good-paying career. So after graduating from high school, he went to college, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in communications, and found a decent job.

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He was miserable. He got to play with his cars on weekends—fixing up Honda Civics with all kinds of upgrades, racing them at local tracks, chatting with everyone he knew about cars—and then would return to his “normal life.”

Then, somewhat abruptly, he quit, and enrolled in an automotive sciences program at Cincinnati State, a local community and technical college.

He quickly earned his degree, landed a job as a mechanic at the car dealership, and was rapidly promoted. He has earned all kinds of service awards for himself and his dealership, in large part because his enthusiasm for a finely tuned, well-functioning car is so contagious. And he’s certainly used to talking to non-car people (like, say, me) about cars.

For example, I used to think car racing was silly, but he actually got me interested in Formula 1 races, of all things, after explaining some of the innovations we see today were spurred by the engineers relentlessly pushing the limits and looking for loopholes. From his track-racing days, I still remember my brother’s descriptions of the delicately woven carbon fiber components (which catch the light just so), or how a burst of nitrous into the fuel line adds more oxygen into the mix, and that provides intense POWER that propels the car forward, bolting ahead of the others…

It’s made me look differently at sewing machines, actually. Now I think about how the engineers tinker away at innovations that, for sewers and quilters, are mind-blowing. The engineers create their own art in the finely tuned mechanics of the machines they make and service.

The constant tinkering and improving, acquiring tools and technology, broadening your skills to achieve a satisfying result, a beautiful result, a breathtaking result—that’s artistry.

My brother’s path comes to mind often, these days, as I meet so many quilters who delayed their passions because no one else they knew quilted, or because it took too much time away from their job and family, or because that longarm was too expensive for “just a hobby.”

When their creativity is finally unleashed and they commit to their passion, they—like my brother—are unstoppable. They have an intense power that propels them forward.

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With Father’s Day around the corner, I’ve decided that the Handyman quilt is right for my brother. The changing directions of the arrows in the pattern remind me of his changing path, and the lighthearted print is perfect for his kids. I could totally see this quilt spread on the grass by the driveway, so his son and daughter can sprawl with their toys and books beside my brother while he fusses around under the hood, popping up to hand him tools.

And all the while, his kids will be learning from their dad what creativity and passion look like in action.

Happy Father’s Day! And happy quilting!

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