Tuesday, July 05, 2011


(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 14" x 22 3/4". Crayon on silk grave rubbing, leftover material, recycled acrylic felt (batting), vintage linens (reverse) and antique/vintage buttons. Free motion machine and hand stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)

Between the time I stitched in the car while going to Pennsylvania, the time I stitched on the plane going to England and back, and the glorious time spent in my studio over a three-day, Fourth of July holiday weekend, I can now post quite a few finished pieces! Yippee!

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

First up is Gone But Not Forgotten, a small Grave Rubbing Art Quilt made using a rubbing from the angel on top of Charles Otis' tombstone in the Unitarian churchyard in Charleston. I don't generally record the name of the person under which the grave rubbing was made ... but this one was different. (Click here for the earlier blog post.) I used the leftover material from a ballet costume made for Mathias in 1999. He was so little and cute ... almost ten years old. Though now a fiber artist, I never really enjoyed making costumes (and was thankful that I never had to again ... after he went to the Kirov Academy of Ballet in 2000 at age 12!) The only thing I liked about making this little "vest" was adding some vintage, jet buttons. So, naturally, the vintage buttons I bought in the Czech Republic when taking a workshop under Sara Lechner seemed like the best trim for this little quilt. (Click here for a blog post about this amazing experience!)

(Above: Gone But Not Forgotten, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

The reverse is a collage of vintage linens through which the recycled, black acrylic felt can be seen.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. 26 1/4" x 34 1/2". Crayon on silk grave rubbing, fabric donated by a friend, recycled acrylic felt (batting), and vintage household linens (reverse). Free motion machine and hand stitching. Click on image to enlarge.)

Next up is The Weeping Willow. I made the rubbing during the same outing as Gone But Not Forgotten ... but it was from St. Lawrence Cemetery near the famous Magnolia Cemetery just outside Charleston ... a place where no permission is needed for making grave rubbings. Willow trees have long been associated with perpetual mourning and grief.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Shakespeare's Ophelia (from Hamlet ... and one of my current "favorite characters") fell into the water from a willow tree. Even in ancient Rome, the willow tree was associated with Persephone, the queen underworld goddess. In the early 19th century the weeping willow was a popular motif on tombstones in the western world.

(Above: The Weeping Willow, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The background fabric was a donation from a friend. The vintage crochet pieces were once a tablecloth or bedspread that had been made in two different shades of off-white ... from the way it was done, this was probably an accident that only became apparent after washing/bleach. My last studio assistant took the entire thing apart. There's about a million little seeding stitches on this quilt too!

(Above: Vintage fabric from Bill Mishoes' auction. Click on image to enlarge.)

For the reverse, I used a piece of fabric found in a "box lot" with several pieces of vintage, household linens. I have no idea how to research it ... so, if anyone reading knows anything about it, please let me know!

(Above: The Weeping Willow, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

There was just enough of this fabric to create the both the background and sleeve for a hanging rod. I added the vintage linens and crocheted heart. This is the first time I included the title and the series' name.

(Above: The Cemetery, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt Series. Approximately 63" x 55" ... I'll have to measure more accurately later. Whole cloth quilt of crayon grave rubbings, free motion machine embroidered; recycled acrylic white felt (batting); vintage household linens (reverse). Click on image to enlarge.)

Third, my large Grave Rubbing Art Quilt to date! This is The Cemetery. I planned this quilt more than many of my others. After a trip to Nottingham with Julie, I knew I wanted to return to the hundreds of perfect slate stone with a really big piece of silk.

(Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I got that chance last March ...

... when I basted it on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio atrium floor.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Generally I only post one or two detail images ... but I can't decide which of these I like best.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

It took an hour and ten minutes to create the rubbings, running from tombstone to tombstone (with Steve holding the fabric taunt across the slate's surface for me). It took hours and hours to free motion machine stitching ... but I loved every minute!

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Slate is the absolute perfect material for a quality grave rubbing. Evidently, it is also the perfect material for someone to chisel extraordinarily complicated and ornate details too. I've confirmed that slate was being quarried in the Nottingham area during most of the 19th century. The graves dated from the early 1840s through the 1890s.

Above: The Cemetery, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I generally don't "square up" my grave rubbing quilts. I'm not fussy about perfect right angles and absolute measurements. I get enough of that in my "day job", picture framing. Yet, this piece had two totally parallel sides ... the selvages. Using the 4' x 8' plywood boards that make up the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio floor, I cut a little off both the top an bottom .... sort of "squaring up" the finished size.

(Above: The Cemetery, reverse. Click on image to enlarge.)

Creating the reverse and attaching it with blanket stitches around the edges and slip stitches around the smaller pieces of vintage linen (stitched into the felt "batting" but not all the way through to the front!) was a labor of love ... and over eight hours. The vintage, damask tablecloth was nearly perfect ... but had a large stain ... now covered. I loved the delicate embroidery on the place mats too. The sleeve was from another damask tablecloth ... which I intentional scoured with my iron for contrast.

(Above and below: Two 4" x 6" fiber postcards made from scraps cut from The Cemetery. Click on images for enlargement.)

Since I trimmed The Cemetery, I ended up with a few scraps from which I made two fiber postcards. One is for Julia in England ... with thanks for the introduction to the Nottingham Cemeteries and especially for later sending Steve and me a copy of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Christmas BBC broadcast of Cinderella. (No, my elder son, Mathias, who dances for the company didn't bother to tape it!) The other postcard is for Dawn Goldsmith ... who wrote the fabulous article for the on-line HandEye magazine and another one for The Quilter which I haven't seen yet ... but it is on its way!

(Above: Four Square. Fabric and fusibles. Machine embroidery. 6" x 6". Framed to 9" x 9". Click on image to enlarge.)

Over the weekend, my husband Steve decided to flip the mattress ... and vacuum under the box springs. (I have no idea why!) It's a king size ... so I sort of helped ... and found a small fiber piece and several half read books among the "desert dust hares" (too large to be "dust bunnies"!) I decided to brush this one off ... and finish it.

(Above: Anonymous, in the process of being designed on the floor at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios ... just outside my studio door.)

Since so many projects ended on the same weekend, it seemed right to start another one. I've been planning this for months. The grave rubbing was made on Easter morning from a stone that read "This monument was erected for the memory of unknown family members buried here". I captured only the words I wanted on this vintage, muslin slip. My concept is to stitch all the anonymously made embroideries from dozens of vintage household linens with it ... a symbol of half forgotten women ... all those unknown relatives who stitched all those neglected tea towels and doilies.

(Above: Anonymous, pinned in place and ready for basting. Click on image to enlarge.)

I had my last studio assistant snip a pile of linens apart ... filling the box with just the sections containing stitches. The background is a damaged, vintage tablecloth. The "batting" is a piece of recycled acrylic felt ... from a outdoors shop ... once packaging material for a kayak on its way from the manufacturer to the local distributor. I clipped and arranged all these pretty embellishments around the garment. Then I pinned it. Now I'll have to baste it because I can't stand that many pins while I'm working. Plus ... this is the piece I planned on taking to Hot Springs National Park for my one month residency in August. It seems like a perfect way to show the legacy of remembrance in stitches, my grave rubbing art quilt series, and also talk about the women who would have come in the heyday of the springs ... bringing their crazy quilts and embroidery with them for the healing experience of the hot waters.


Elizabeth said...

Oh My goodness have you been busy!!! WHat glorious work !! THe Cemetary piece is amazing !! I can just Steve running after you to hold the fabric and then you taking off immediately to find the next one!!! I LOVE this piece!!! Then the slip piece witht he snipped embroideries, we were talking about this at the Textile Museum. This is going to be fabulous!!!
So you are going to Hot Springs in August??? Yikes !! Hot and Humid !!! But then you are used to taht in SC.
I ahd no idea tht you ahd taken a workshop with Sara Lechner!!! Lucky you!That has long been a dream of mine- what a wonderful place, teacher and experience!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here via Stitch Punk.

What a wonderful idea and stunning work. Thanks for sharing. I especially love the idea at the end, using all those layers and layers of old embroidered pieces...

MosaicMagpie said...

With each post you write I am drawn further into your work. I love the symbolism and thought process that goes into these creations. The slip piece took my breath away. I enlarged it and stared at it, drinking it in. A month retreat....I wonder what wonderful things you will dream up after that!

Philippa said...

Hi Susan

Thanks for your wonderful comment to me. So fascinating. I have never seen textiles etched onto glass but can easily believe it. We have a very good framer locally so will have them onto the job shortly. Have trusted them with all my pieces over the years. I have been working in museums over the last couple of years so am familar with the acid free products. Was just amazed I hadn't picked it up earlier and also at seeing damage first hand.

Now your work you have posted today - it is just stunning. I find them very moving and just love the old linens that you have used on the back. The piece memorialising the unknown women is going to be wonderful. I feel so inspired just seeing it and am so looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

Don't know if you saw on my blog the seried of quilts I have made featuring embroidered linens - the first featuring a piece by my maternal grandfather, the second to remeber a close friend who died with embroideries from my mother's best friend, and the third for my sister-in-law featuring embroideries done by her sister and aunt who have both died. People at my Guild have taken to calling my Doiley!

Thanks for sharing so much of your work - it is very generous and very, very inspiring to me. Best wishes, Philippa

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed that journey all the way through all your latest work. Thank you! For me the medley of rubbings from the Nottingham slate headstones really stands out - the rubbings are so detailed and crisp and the embroidery brings them out perfectly. Fabulous!

Kathy said...

I dearly love your work. It is breathtaking, all of detail and what a concept. You are one talented gal to create such amazing pieces. I am so happy I found you somehow through space I landed on your site. It is wonderful. Thanks for sharing your work. Kathy