Backbone: Art Quilt

A quilt of curiosities, this one. Many disparate parts and scraps, a little disquieting to me.

I had dip-dyed some muslin for Birds of the Bible: Bearded Vulture, and made some extra pieces. One set dried with a distinct line down the center where it was folded over the clothesline. I started the quilt originally by piecing this set together, making sure the lines connected. It appeared to me as a backbone. I set it aside.

And I had this strip of quilt that I bought at a quilt fair in March 2018, created by an unknown person about one hundred years ago (no, really, 100 years ago). It made a neat object, but I could see it was going to get dusty, and it was disintegrating. But it still had batting and a backing.  What to do?

Very gently, I cut the quilting knots and separated it. The backing, a green plaid cotton flannel, was in very good shape.

The top needed to be reintegrated, though, so like the pocket quilt I salvaged, Catch It Before It Falls, I divided it in half and trapped it under silk organza.

Conceptually, it began making sense to combine the two; history, although seemingly veiled, is the backbone for our actions, for what we know. That can work to our benefit or to our detriment, depending on how that knowledge is used. What do we shun? What do we repeat? What do we misinterpret?

I wrote an acrostic poem for it:

The quilt refused the poem, requesting to be embroidered differently. But how to activate the center? Machine quilting to accentuate the line and give it depth, and random stitches with variegated cotton sashiko thread for added color.

The quilting became a mixture of the machine stitching I had been experimenting with for Magnolia, and Sanctuary, and Centipede, some random hand-quilting, and a modified sashiko chain stitch, which began looking like vertebrae to me.

I also had a leftover hand-stenciled piece, inspired by resist-dyed cloth from Cameroon, that I used in my quilt, Everything Is Temporary. The eye called to me, determining that yes, this quilt was a body. I put it above the spine, closer to the head of the quilt.

Very curious how the pieces came together.

19.25"w x 45.5"h
vintage quilt fragment, stenciled, hand-dyed muslin, velvet, cotton, cotton sashiko thread

We need a little more support these days.

Stay Safe. Be well.

Note: I did not know this quilt would make metaphorical sense and take new meaning; I wrote this post before the even-more-horrible news of the week. Backbone is what we need from the officials we elected: to stand up for what is fair and just.