Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oriental Art Quilt

Just after Thanksgiving, I completed the quilting on the oriental quilt I had been working on for about a year.  Yes, a year!  This is a quilt that I started in order to try out a discharge dye technique I saw on Simply Quilts.  The technique makes an awesome 3D effect.

I was really pleased with how the quilt turned out so I took it to work to show to some of my coworkers before it was trimmed and bound. 

There is one coworker in particular that really enjoys following my quilts.  His name is Peter.  About 2 years ago his daughter Tammy died.  She had been very sick for a long time and his wifes full time job was taking care of their daughter.  After their daughter died, Mihn (Peter's wife) was having a very difficult time as you can imagine.  Her entire life for the past 20 some years was taking care of Tammy.  Suddenly there was a gigantic hole in Mihn's life.  One of Mihn's skills is sewing.  So Peter found a group that gets together regularly and makes quilts as a way to work through their grieving process.  Peter is in IT and likes computers so he bought a program to design quilts.  He designs the quilts, chooses the fabrics and Mihn makes them.  How cool is that!  The quilts are usually charm fabrics with Tammy's favorite cartoon charaters.  They want the quilts to be used and cuddled. 

So I pinned the oriental quilt to my office wall and Peter came over to see it.  As he examined it he talked about how this quilt is an art quilt, not a quilt like he and his wife make.  He kept finding subtle things to look at, like the bands of pebbling that draw your eye over the quilt.  He then said that while he appreciated the quilt and it was beautiful, it wasn't one he would want in his house.  The quilt is dark.  The tree looks like death or something dark.  But there are small sprigs of life on the tree.  He said that his life has been this quilt at various times.  To him, this quilt says "Hope."  The kicker is that just as we were finishing this conversation, another coworker from the IT department came in and asked what the quilt said. (The oriental words)  Peter responded, "The question is, what does the quilt say to you?"  She looked at the quilt and said, "Hope."

Wow!  Understand that I had no intention of having this feeling in the quilt.  This quilt was literally an experiment into the discharge dye technique and I intended it to be a happy quilt.  I chose the oriental symbols to be some of my favorite things... Husband, God, Tree, Leaf, Dog, etc.  The tree was a complete screw up on my part.  I had originally designed the tree to be reaching up toward the sky.  But I had drawn the limbs incorrectly on the fusible web.  Instead of the limbs reaching up, they were drooping down.  When I put the limbs on the design wall, it looked like a Halloween tree!  I was pissed!  So I put it away for several months.  When I returned to it, I did some creative cutting and added some small limbs to make the tree look less depressing.  At this point the quilt started talking to me.  I originally was going to have a lot more flowers and leaves on the limbs, but when they were there, it just didn't look right.  So I kept the flowers to a minimum and made sure the leaves stayed buds. 

All of this to say that sometimes a quilt has a life of it's own and it ends up being so much better than you intended.

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