|Click on image to see detail & artist's statement|
In 1997 my father-in-law gave me his mother's unfinished quilt blocks. Although I'd never met her, Nora Roth Werner (1898-1978), I wanted to put them together to create a "collaborative" quilt for my children.
I sewed them with gold thread to mark the difference between her sewing and mine. What I expected would be a one time, functional piece for our family has led to this extended series of fabric wall pieces. I've made 16 now. For me this is significant rescue work, recovering and finishing the abandoned quilt tops pieced by women long ago. I am bringing their long hidden work out for all to see.
I was fascinated with the idea of linking another's work from the past with my own today. AND I was mesmerized by the gold thread! I loved how it sparkled in the little sewing machine light. I'm often asked why all the golden threads are dangling. When I started the first quilt I was using a 1913 Singer sewing machine. The threads would break every six inches and I didn't want to take the time to pull so many through to the back- I 'd do it at the end. But then I thought I about how hard it was to rethread the needle with my bifocal glasses and aching knuckles. I wanted recognition for the huge number of times that I accomplished it. And finally as the surface was covered with dozens of gold threads reflecting the light I loved how it looked how it added a beautiful, decorative layer. For me it changed from being unfinished to a gilded surface.
I left the edges cut and raw to mark how hard it was to cut into a fabric that someone else so carefully pieced, I liked the contrast of the irregular and the neat. As I continued it became a symbol for me of the Wild Zone- the Untamed. The carefully hidden stitches and structure of traditional sewing techniques represented for me the controls and restraints put on women to stay in their small domestic realm. The rawness of the edges and irregular construction represent the release of that constriction, so well described in the stories of Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run with the Wolves that I listened to while I was sewing.
When I finished "Nora's and My Quilt" I didn't want to stop-- so I kept assembling the cut remnants and fragments.
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