Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Dad Quilt

For Dad,

Someone remarked on how beautiful this looked in photographs, so I thought perhaps I should include it here even though it's rather more personal than most of my work.

I made this quilt for Dad, during his last year when we knew he was sick. Unfortunately, I only got about halfway through it before he died.

We had a coffee theme in our family (having lived for years in Brazil). Dad was the official maker of the coffee with all due care and ritual; he liked it, fussed over it and as we say these days, it was 'his thing'.

The Dad Quilt

Well, the Fabric House Moda had a collection of coordinated fabrics in a group called “Lotsa Latte” which were novelty prints of a coffee theme. One night at church, after Dad had been diagnosed as terminal and I was later mentioning it to an acquaintance who knew I quilted, she asked ‘so you’re making him a quilt right?’ and I said no, I’m not and suddenly was struck dumb about it.

No, I’m not making him a quilt, why not? Well, ‘cause he was terminal, quilts take time, and who knows much he’s got left. Then shortly thereafter, I was at City Quilter (my local quilt shop, hereinafter “LQS”) and saw the coffee themed novelties of “Lotsa Latte” and thought, Oh I have to make Dad a quilt, a coffee themed quilt, that’d be just perfect and he’d get a kick out of the coffee theme. There were fabrics with mugs and cups; fabrics with old style coffee grinders and several fabrics of coffee beans, one literally that and one stylistically that, along with several other prints which blended well and colored the group beautifully.

a Close Up Detail

The Dad Quilt

So I bought a prepared grouping of those fabrics (I think a set of 5 fat quarters actually), plus some solids of component colors to blend with. I thought the square within square which came with the grouping was a fabulous print. Actually, if you look at it alone, it really is gorgeous, a very well designed print; it’s balanced, well proportioned, beautifully colored and even though it’s got red in it, could be seen as masculine.

The Back or Reverse Side

The Dad Quilt

So when Dad died, I stopped working on this, was just too sad. Yet I kept remembering that he would have liked it and determined in my mind that I would complete it in his memory eventually and give it to my StepMom as a touchstone to Dad. I’d always intended this anyway, to give it to her after he’d used it. It’s just that he didn’t get to see it or use it, but my StepMom is a wonderful, loving person and of deep feelings; very good to him and also to us (which as I learned with a prior stepmother was not guaranteed: just ’cause they loved him, didn’t mean necessarily that they’d be good to us). I could imagine her touched to see the love with which the Quilt was made for him and I could envision her (an avid reader) curled up on a big stuffed chair reading under it.

So about a year after he died (just after Memorial Day) I resumed working on it. Between then (the 1st anniversary of his death) and Father’s Day, which seemed fitting enough, I worked on it. Sometimes I was sad working on it, sometimes crying, but always picturing him smiling at the coffee beans and reveling in the idea that I’d made it for him. Took some time and a bit of patience (I hit a technical snag or two). The LQS had run out of the square within square fabric that I was going to use as a solid on the back side. But now Dad was gone, maybe the Quilt could be a tad less masculine, since I was now making it for Barbara, maybe I could use a different border fabric than originally planned. So with Nancy’s help at the LQS, we decided on a light brown crackle fabric for the back borders and I just had to find a quilt design for the borders.

I enjoy making little design jokes with myself, like a play on words except as a play of design riffs, like the Baby Quilt (at the beginning of this Blog) I did called Swirl Play (a play on similar, but related Swirls, of various types and scales). So since the design motif here was a fabric framed by another fabric, it became sort of squares within squares and the similarly themed fabric reinforced that. So I seized on a Greek key design for the borders, sort of squares in squares, related design entities and simple enough that I could draw it onto paper and quilt through the papers which I’d eventually pull off from the quilt.

I think it came out pretty nicely, and someday, I’ll send it with a relative or ship it to Barbara as long as someone is there to photograph her when she opens the package and sees it for the first time. I think she’ll be quite moved and I look forward to seeing her tiny self curled up underneath it. A comforting thought and I can just tell, Dad’s looking down at us smiling.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Heliconia Happenstance

Another recent work completed for a color class taken last year at City Quilter.

The assignment was a split complementary color scheme. Red and green as complements plus blue green and yellow green (those adjacent to the complement). Turned out to be very difficult for me due to the red. I kept trying different things and adding new fabrics to balance with red.

Heliconia Happenstance

The split rail fence motif in red and greens are what reminded me of the heliconia of the title.

Ultimately, when the front was finished, I moved on to the back eliminating the dreaded red.

I was vastly more comfortable with no bright red and the addition of the turquoise.

Also of interest designwise, is that the back with the teal is one unit of a Disappearing Nine Patch motif, with additional borders to compensate for it being rectangular rather than square.

No More Bright Red, Turquoise Instead