Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Epitaph Quilt

(Above: My Epitaph Quilt. Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 47 1/2" x 46". Crayon on silk grave rubbing with vintage tablecloth on severely light-damaged, recycled curtain. Vintage buttons. Hand embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: My Epitaph Quilt, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

This is the largest Grave Rubbing Quilt to date...nearly foot feet square. It is also the only one that is entirely hand stitched. I started it months ago...in April...but put it aside. Last spring I only knew how I wanted the center of the quilt. It took time to contemplate the words, my own epitaph, and then more time to figure out exactly how I wanted to incorporate them. I had to think about the stitches that would create different textures to the various sections. Also, the words required basting....something I almost never do.

(Above: My Epitaph Quilt, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Basting is a lot like mending....something else I almost never do. Embroidery is artistic and fun. Basting and mending are functional, work related, and can always be put off until much, much later. Both my sons, when in elementary school, out grew shorts that only needed a button sewn back into place....and there's a sweater of Steve's that currently needs a stitch or two....maybe by summer when it's too hot to wear it!)

(Above: My Epitaph Quilt, detail. Click on image to enlarge. Words on center: Susan is a common name, always has been ordinary. So, it shouldn't feel strange to see it in a graveyard. Dead Susan after Dead Susan. Of course I'm going to die. Still seems eerie to see my name SUSAN on a TOMBSTONE. Click on image to enlarge.)

Anyway, the center was done; the kantha styled running stitches between the edge of the tablecloth and the edge of the quilt were done; and the tablecloth was firmly attached to the recycled curtain. Then this quilt just lay out of the way...waiting for me to think about the words I'd select for an epitaph.

Who am I? How would I like to be remembered? What legacy do I intend to leave? What personality traits define my actions?

I've read thousands of epitaphs. I've free motion embroidered hundreds onto sheer chiffon banners for my installation this coming February. Still, it took weeks to sift through these ideas until I came up with the right phrases and a plan for their inclusion on this quilt.

Artist. Child of God. Honest. Passionate Soulmate. (I love you Steve) Embroiderer. In Awe of the World. Industrious. Mother of 2 Miracles. (Mathias and Alex)

(Above: Details of My Epitaph Quilt. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last month everything fell into place. Most of the seeding stitched and French knotted areas on the tablecloth were done in the rental truck on the way to Texas to install Blues Chapel at the Greater Denton Arts Council's Gough Gallery. I also figured out how I wanted to create a unique back for the quilt.

(Above: My Epitaph Quilt, reverse. Vintage linens. Free motion embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

It is an example of serendipity that I first posted the initial efforts on this quilt last April with photos of Linda Lynch. (To see this post, click HERE.)

(Above and below: My Epitaph Quilt, details of reverse. Click on either image to enlarge.)

Linda is the incredible fiber artist who posed for the Decision Portrait Series piece On Fighting Ovarian Cancer. (To view this portrait, click HERE.) She has always made supportive comments on this blog and been a big fan of the Grave Rubbing Quilts too. She sent me the vintage linens I used on the reverse. She has faced death bravely and won a battle over ovarian cancer; she knows how precious life is and how to live it well. There was no question that the linens and lace she donated would be part of this, my personal epitaph.


Dawn said...

Oh Susan! Your work leaves me speechless. You have this deep well of caring and understanding that you just keep pulling from. I'm so glad you share the process as well as the art.


Doreen G said...

A wonderful piece Susan so beautifully stitched.
I hope you and Steve have a wonderful Christmas and an even better 2010.

Unknown said...

A beautiful work. I can only imagine how difficult it was to come up with the words on this one! And the back! Such meaning and love there! I have been pouring over the photos of this one and keep seeing something new each time. Wonderful!

Stitchety Grub said...

Warm Festive Wishes to you Susan
from sunny hot Perth Western Australia
Britt :-)

lindacreates said...

Oh Susan, this is absolutely wonderful! There is so much meaning and love in this quilt. The couching on the front is so effective. I am honored that you included the vintage linens and laces I lovingly passed on to you. You are an amazing and wonderful lady! It is so inspiring to follow your artistic career.

Susan Elliott said...

This is an amazing piece of work Susan. Also being named Susan, I got a big kick out of the center of the quilt...It made me think about my own epitaph. Thank you so much for sharing it's story and for finishing it...

Wanda said...

This really leaves me speechless, Susan. And that doesn't happen often!