Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Minstrel, A Grave Rubbing Art Quilt


(Above: The Minstrel, Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. Crayon on fabric rubbing. Vintage quilt scraps. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

I couldn't resist making a grave rubbing of the unique marker to a bygone character, a minstrel. The tombstone is in one of the historic cemeteries in Hot Springs Arkansas and I designed the art quilt during my August artist residency at Hot Springs National Park.


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

On and off since then I've been stitching. The scraps are all that was left from a battered antique top sent to me by Connie Akers.


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

I wanted this piece to reflect a raggedness, a patched together world that I imagine as the life of a minstrel. It is not square or totally flat or "perfect" in anyway. The stitching is intentionally varied and haphazard ... rough, rugged, held together by a thread ... or a few thousand stitches!


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

The back is all that was left from a purchase made over a decade ago at Bill Mishoes' auction ... back before I ever started stitching as an artist ... back when I spent everyday framing pictures and managing a staff that numbered up to fourteen strong. Back then, I dreamed of time to ply a threaded needle. I'd buy beloved, vintage fabric just to touch occasionally ... as the physical manifestation of a half hidden dream. The buttons came from the floor of the abandoned South Carolina State Mental Hospital ... and I intentionally selected the worst looking ones ... the ones with the most character and sense of "being used". They hold the most "life". (Click here for a blog post about collecting "found objects" at the SC Mental Hospital.)


(Above: Bessie's Quilt. Probably the first quilt I ever made ... when I thought it would be the only quilt I'd ever make ... December 2007.)

I used the patchwork strips on Bessie's Quilt ... back before I ever thought I'd "really quilt". This was supposed to be a one-time-only experiment. (The link is to the blog post when I finished this piece.)

Now ... I'm ready to start several more quilts using the grave rubbings I made last Saturday in Charleston's Circular Churchyard. Who would have ever thought I'd quilt!

5 comments:

Els said...

Ah Susan, LOVE this one with the "unravelling" logcabin blocks...
And that STITCHING !!!! Amazing, I would like to touch and feel it !!!
Great back too !
You really work wonders, time and again.

Pat said...

What a wonderful quilt, inspired by a delightful epitaph. An amazing amount of stitching, Susan, . . . evidence of the life you've created that allows you hours to "ply a threaded needle."

Good to visit with you today. See you soon.

Jeannie said...

A wonderful work of art! I love the rubbing and the vintage fabrics are fantastic! I also would love to touch all of those stitches. Truly amazing

underatopazsky said...

I love the joyful tattered minstrel piece. Like Gilbert and Sullivan's "A wandering minstrel I" from "The Mikado".

Elizabeth said...

I love the Minstrel!!! the stitching is wonderful and so evocative of the time_ BRILLIANT!!
Thank Goodness Bessies Quilt was not your last!!!! you inspire me so!!!!