Friday, January 15, 2010

Ready for Burial, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt

(Above: Ready for Burial, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. 69" x 42". Crayon on fabric grave rubbings, heat set; vintage dress and bed covering; hand and free motion embroidery. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Most of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts are designed in my studio while playing with the fabrics and vintage linens.....but not this one! I saw the vintage black lace dress hanging on the upstairs wall at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall in Charleston and simply knew it would be the focal point for this piece. My mind's eye could almost see the grave rubbing words floating around it on a vintage bed covering. I could hardly wait to start stitching even while I waited in line to pay a mere $18 for the garment.

As luck would have it, I already owned the bed covering. It was old, tattered, and had holes; but, it was beautiful. I cut out a shape around the dodge the worst of the damage. I pinned the bed covering and dress onto a large piece of recycled black felt.

It was fun rummaging through my grave rubbings for the words: Coffin, Past Away, Nearer My God to Thee, Affectionate, Died, Dearest, Treasured, Early Grave, Beloved Memory, Called Home, etc. These rubbing were made in cemeteries from California to Maine to places in faraway England. I pinned them in place around the dress.

Over the Christmas holidays I stitched the words into if "patches". I had removed the fringe from the bed covering when I originally cut it. There was enough that wasn't damaged to go around the entire piece...but I didn't just stitch in in place. The fringe on the top hangs downward; the fringe on the other three sides hangs outward, like it originally did.

Next came the free motion embroidered outline around all the letters. I'm totally in love with King Tut's Superior Thread 992. It's a variegated brown that is simply perfect. I was worried that the texture of the bed covering would make the free motion stitching difficult, but it didn't!

The presence of the dress is the first time that one of my Grave Rubbing Quilts suggests a human body. Thus, I decided on the name Ready For Burial. It is also the first time that the actual rubbings aren't the focal point of the quilt. I'm very excited about pushing this series into this new direction. I feel like this series is developing on its own....I'm just along for the ride and to do the stitching. It is an exhilarating experience.

I hadn't really thought about the reverse which is a good thing. A friend donated three beautiful, old tapestries to my stash. One seemed perfect....very Victorian in appearance, much like the dress. It wasn't long enough but I cut it and created a most unique back. Of course, the fringe added a new "problem". The back isn't totally flat now.

I built a rod that includes a half inch projection on which the hanging device was screwed. As a result, the piece looks great on the wall. It hangs about a half inch away from the wall, not showing a bulge where the reverse fringe is.

(The reverse....There's no way for me to photograph it hanging on the wall. Here it is lying on the floor at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Click on this or any other image to enlarge.)
I'm really thrilled about how this work has turned out!


Julie said...

This is beautiful Susan and what a beautiful backing. All these pieces seem destined to come together in this piece. I am interested inn your comment on the King Tut thread as I have just bought some to try.

WoolenSails said...

I really love this piece, wonderful piece of art and wonderful theme. I love gravestone art and always making my husband stop at old cemeteries when we travel.


Nellie's Needles said...

What an intriguing and lovely piece. The textures are amazing in the photos. They have to be stupendous in actuality. Thanks for sharing your adventure in creating it.

Angela said...

Wow, what a great piece and I can't believe you were lucky enough to find that dress at such a bargain price!

lindacreates said...

Susan, you continue to amaze me with your talent. This is stunning and a nice direction to go. The thought and preparation that goes into the clothing that the family buries their loved one is great, and this dress makes me think of that. Of course it would be their best, and this vintage lace dress fits the bill. I can't wait to see your next art quilt.

Wanda said...

This is really beautiful. And different for the series. How awesome. The back is incredible. The bulletin leaves me speechless. That prayer touched my heart.

Linda of the Lake said...

Thank you for using the bed cover in this beautiful piece. I'm speachless!