Art Quilt: The Hidden Robin

A couple years ago I was inspired by the story, in Jewish mystical tradition, of the 36 righteous people in the world, the "Lamed Vavniks" as they are called, a shortened form of "Lamed Vav Tzadikim." Hebrew letters are used for numerals and lamed=30, vav=6; Tzadikim is the plural of a righteous person. The story tells us that the 36 people are hidden to us and even to themselves, justifying human existence to the Creator, and prompting us to treat one another and ourselves as if they/we might be one. They are not to be revealed.

As a parallel to this, I thought there could be 36 hidden animals that we are to protect and nurture, and began to make quilts of them. Eighteen is an auspicious number in Judaism, the letters het and yud equal 18 and also spell Chai (that's a guttural ch), meaning life. For my quilts, which have become a series over time, I use multiples of 18 squares for this reason.

The first quilt was The Hidden Owl, currently in a traveling SAQA show, Sustainability. The second was The Hidden Cat. Then The Hidden Osprey | The Hidden Dog | The Hidden Coot (also in a SAQA traveling show, Prism Play)| and The Hidden Parrot.

Back in the game, here is, the seventh, The Hidden Robin. I seem to be leaning toward birds. I start with a photo I have taken, then pixelate it and color coordinate with mostly hand-dyed cotton. In the past I have just used thread to tack it down unobtrusively for the quilting, but for this one I chose the sashiko "grasses" pattern, which seemed appropriate, to hand quilt it.

The Hidden Robin
30.25"w x 31"h (77 cm x 79 cm)
Hand-dyed velvet and cotton; pigmented linen; Japanese woven cotton; commercially printed cotton; cotton thread; hand quilted with sashiko "grasses" pattern


and the back…