These are me, with no particular emphasis on any one: music, writing, quilting. The activity of each shares equal importance. They are the things that get me out of bed in the morning, with purpose. They are my good work, connected by environment, words, narrative and beauty. I began quilting in the early 1990’s after visiting the home of artist and writer, Sandra Gould Ford, where for the first time I experienced an artist-made quilt. It was hanging on the wall and I said to Sandra, “What is that?”
Imagine a gut punch, but of happiness. That was my experience with Sandra’s quilt. The need to research quilting, and learn how to do it was immediate. My older sisters were tailors, and they taught me how to sew when I was little, so I had that background, was familiar with fabric and how to handle it. So I jumped right in to this new connection with fabric. It was joyous. I was fearless and made many quilts. My big brother, Sonny, is buried with the quilt I made for him, a spring time fabric Sunshine and Shadow design.
But then, somehow I lost my way, veered away from creating pretty bed quilts and couch cozies to creating political and historical narrative quilts. I didn’t enjoy the process and stopped quilting altogether, for about 10 years.
During the summer of 2016, two women approached me about teaching them how to quilt. I balked at first, remembering my last emotional response to the act of quilting and declined. But then that small voice said, “Why not?” What happened during As We Mend was that those two women reminded me of why I wanted to quilt in the first place and I realized I had somehow placed quilting—the gift given me to play with fabric, shape and color—in the space reserved for writing.
During that class, I was reminded that quilting gives gifts, for example: the love and need to hear crunchy sounds of scissors cutting through fabric; going against or simply throwing away the color wheel to let confidence show up and show out; and that
listening to color in the fabric store, in nature, and in dreams makes me know stuff about subtlety, nuance, aggression (yellow), jealousy (red) and performance.
This is quilting’s foundation—the rendering of whole cloth into pieces and then re-imagining the pieces into whole again. It is the act of tearing down and building up again with pizzazz!
A long time ago, I sang alto and soprano in a clear, soft voice. High “C” didn’t bother me; neither did the “A” below middle “C.” I had a nice, comfortable range. But the voice box is a muscle and if not used, becomes flabby and lazy. Some of my poetry and fiction these days requires music. I’m finding that life, (the way I’d lived it, with alcohol, other drugs and an unused and misused singing voice) is responsible for my flabby and lazy voice box. I have to exercise it, rest it, soothe it, teach it to stretch again and to love the high “C” again as much as the low “A.”
This blog, Quilting in the Key of C, is me learning how to stretch, render whole cloths into many pieces so that I can re-imagine the many into whole again. I am searching for, and find again and again with each new quilt, the pleasant feeling I first felt looking at Sandra’s quilt. I want to re-learn how to easily reach my quilting high “C” voice.
Quilts in this blog may be titled Series One (Quilts made from 1995 – 2006) or Series Two (Quilts made beginning 2016 - ) so that I can differentiate my high “C” quilts from the others I made prior to 2016. You can see some of my first quilts in the Quilt Gallery.
Some quilts in Series Two may fit into other categories. I think. We’ll see. Not sure just yet how everything will work.
The above quilt is from Series One. This quilt is called by many names:
Nine Wild Women
Witches Brew, and
Nine Wise Witches.
I can’t decide on a title, I suppose, because they all work. It is a Redwork Variation, meaning that I used fabric that does not follow strict Redwork directions. It is an entire scrap quilt and some of the red and white fabric had other colors in them. I will write more about this quilt and the technique of Redwork in another post.
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Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll come back often.
Happy Quilting in the Key of "C"!
This is a blog about how we make things.