A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I happened on a book of Chinese Window Screen Designs. A fan of anything repetitive or gridded, I was hooked. But I wanted to make it into a quilt. A Chinese window lattice, turned into a quilt? Sun, Falling Into Sea is the result. I drew the block in my Quilt Program, then played and played and tweaked and worked the darks, lights and lines into something I could cut out of fabric, piece and stitch.
I had forgotten about Sun, Falling Into Sea, made for a guild challenge (“Patches of Blue Water” hosted by the Orange County Quilt Guild), finding it again when I decided to try and photograph all my quilts. And that was prompted by a desire to have a written record of all my quilts, which was prompted by a set of art journals that my father has made to chronicle his path from the time he first picked up paintbrushes until this day. He has four of these journals, and I was completely taken by their existence. I mean, I know they existed, but I’ve come to understand the work and history and their significance only lately. Since they have been promised to another one of my siblings, I decided that I should try and capture a little of his books by making onof my own.e
First thing to do was to sit down and make a list of the art output of my own. Certainly it wouldn’t be how many floors I’ve scrubbed or loads of dishes into the dishwasher, but something more tangible, something I could photograph. I have done some tole painting, some crafting (remember that I am a child of the 1970s and, yes, I’ve even done macrame) but it was quilting that came to mind. I made a list. Even considering the ones I have given away, I have made 75 quilts, as of this counting.
Somewhere in the early 1970s, I started quilting, and the quilt above, a whole cloth quilt with the little Holly Hobby girls outlined by thread, was where I began. I didn’t know even how to start or stop the stitching, so in some places, I simply did a few back stitches in place, the nub of thread hidden in the heel of one of the girls. I finished the edges with frilly eyelet lace. I would call it pathetic, but it’s kind of endearing in its naivete. My latest big effort was a quilt made of dotted fabrics with hundreds of pieces, chronicled on my quilty blog.
In the last two days I’ve put close to 50 quilts up on the wall, flipped them over, taken them down. Rinse, repeat. Dave helped me for the huge ones, as I had to borrow a quilt stand to get the full view. A few of the early ones I have never photographed, nor seen stretched up before me in all their glory. It was enlightening, and rewarding to regard a life’s work in cloth and thread. I’ve sent them all to Costco to be printed, and will be taking the borrowed quilt stand to Arizona when I travel to see two of my children, to photograph the quilts I’ve made and given to them.
I don’t quite know how to describe what I feel tonight, after this experience (besides tired). It’s not often that I take time to review my accomplishments, and to enjoy them. Rewarding? Humbling? Satisfying? Maybe. But all of this was prompted by my father’s books, of his journal built page by page, painting by painting, a few artful scrawls of information in his deft handwriting. I look forward to building m