Is It Really One of a Kind?

What makes something one of a kind? Those of us in the handmade world tend to think that virtually all of our pieces are one of a kind…..but are they really? Are we over-using the term and diluting its impact in the process? Curious about this, I set out to find an official definition of one of a kind when used in the art and handmade world.

I wasn’t successful at all in my search!  Surprisingly, at least to me, I couldn’t find a definitive authority who would tell me exactly what one of a kind means when it comes to handmade.  The consensus is that one of a kind is unique and like no other, or without equal.  Okay…  so when do I use the term as it applies to my pieces?

I gave this considerable thought; in fact, I’ve been mulling it over for almost a week.  I can’t come up with a distinct and unarguable text based definition, but I think I can explain it with the help of a picture or two.

Attic Windows QuiltHere is the quilt I am working on now.  It’s a pieced quilt.  Although it appears to be put together on the diagonal, it’s not; it’s a series of squares.  Each square consists of a 4.5 inch square (the deer), two rectangles (the side and bottom of the windows) and two triangles (located where the window sides meet).  I connected my squares with a thin black strip to give each window even more definition.  I didn’t invent this optical illusion, and I don’t know who did.  It’s been around a very long time and is called attic windows.  Yet, I’m tempted to say this quilt is one of a kind.  Lots and LOTS of other people might make an attic windows quilt.  But they would be unlikely to choose exactly the same color scheme that I did.  Would they even be able to find the same deer print I used?  All of these things lead me toward using one of a kind to describe my version of an attic windows quilt.

But wait!  The last sentence in the paragraph above rules out my quilt being one of a kind…  why?  Because my quilt is a version of a specific type of quilt that already exists.  Yes, mine is different than all the others, but it’s still not “unique, like no other, without equal.”  Tempting as it might be, I can’t say this quilt is one of a kind.

OOAK QuiltThis quilt, on the other hand, is truly one of a kind.  I never saw a picture of another quilt like this one before I made it.  The inspiration came from one of my sons who loves to fish for trout.  I didn’t have a pattern, either.  It simply evolved as I made it.  The other thing that makes this quilt one of a kind is that I won’t do it again….  ever!  You have no idea how I struggled to make a somewhat realistic brown trout out of fabric and embroidery floss!

Yes, each and every thing that we make is different from the last.  There’s no argument that it’s difficult, if not impossible to duplicate something that has been created by hand.  But be careful using the phrase one of a kind so that it continues to mean something special.

Written By iKnitQuiltSew





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