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!


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

Anonymous 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!!!!