Turtle Art Quilt: Time Release

A friend recommended the recent book [Amazon link]  Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery, a nature writer I admire and enjoy. I find most natural science and natural history books eye-opening, deepening the connections between the human world and the environment and animals for me, and this one was no different. Montgomery gives information in story form, and it's personal, bringing the reader along with her.

Where I live in California, we do not have turtles crossing the roads to get to the sea; the closest we have is a road that is closed in a nearby park so that newts can cross there. It's similar, but not exactly. We don't rehabilitate newts and newts don't live nearly as long as turtles. People don't generally have newts for pets and have no need to put them in their wills. Turtles, if allowed, can live for over one hundred years. And because they can outlive us, yes, people put them in their wills.

In Massachusetts there is a rehabilitation facility, run by two amazing individuals, the place where Sy Montgomery went to volunteer and do the research for the book. Her experiences there provide for a much deeper understanding of turtles, how their time is so much slower: taking longer for medications to work, taking longer to heal from illness, and how resilient they can be when they sustain terrible injuries. The book is gory in parts, as anything is when dealing with sick and injured animals, but also surprising and beautiful to find that turtles can recognize people and form friendships with them. That they are very smart.

As is the case with many of the natural science and natural history books I read, I have begun to respond in art. The same friend who recommended the book was herself inspired by it, and on a trip to Mexico, she helped release baby turtles on the beach. This little quilt (it is only one foot square) has a stencil I drew and cut of a baby turtle heading over painted sand to the free-motion quilted sea to start a new life. 

Time Release
12" x 12" (30 cm x 30 cm)
Iced dyed cotton; hand-dyed cotton; watercolor ground; fabric paint; walnut ink; acrylic ink; hand pigmented linen thread; cotton thread; metallic thread; seed beads; handmade stencil; hand and free-motion quilted

Turtle time is a pondering time. I'm in the middle of two much larger turtle quilts now. Taking it slowly.