On March 1st, at the age of 82, Jean Ray Laury died. The world, and in particular the quilting world, is a richer place for her. Back in the 60's, when there were only 3 or 4 books on quilting in print, she published Quilts and Coverlets. My Mum had a copy of that book, and it was my first exposure to non-traditional quilts. But the book that caused me to add her to my personal list of mentors, was The Creative Woman's Getting-It-Together Handbook. I've read that book from cover to cover several times, and am struck by how many of the insights she offers in it are just are pertinent today as they were when the book was written. My personal favourite? Whatever you do (whatever you make),
do it with passion. Do it because you care about the person for whom you are making it, or because you're crazy about the colours, or because it's an issue you're passionate about. Don't waste your time on mediocrity, on the lukewarm. Life is too short for that. (This is quoted from memory, so not an exact quotation, but you can get the gist of it.) It's advice I've taken to heart ever since. Back in the mid 1980's, I was fortunate enough to take a class with Jean at Banff - Applique with Simple Shapes. Tom's quilt, pictured here, had huge appeal for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed being in her class, as much for who she was as for what I learned. Jean had a terrific sense of humour, as well as strong political statements to make, and often her quilts embodied both. The Listen to Your Mother quilt illustrates that. But my fondest memory of her is the story of Jack and the Beanstalk that she gave as the Guest Speaker at Banff. She talked about planting the seed you've been given - the bean being a metaphor for creativity. Because if you don't plant it, if you don't tend to it properly, it won't grow. At the end of the lecture, she gave every participant there a hand-painted bean, to remind each of us to plant, to use, to take care of, our
own creativity. My original bean was chewed up by a toddler who was resident in my home at that time (he shall remain nameless), but when I was going through my mother's belongings in preparation for a move to a facility some thirty years later, I found my mother's hand-painted bean, tucked away in a tiny wooden holder. I have kept it ever since. A great reminder of a great lady. You will be missed, Jean, but not forgotten.