Thursday, January 19, 2023

Mandala CL, a commission for the War Mouth restaurant!

(Mandala CL.  Framed:  35 1/2" x 35 1/2".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an antique quilt. Found Objects include: A trivet on which a War Mouth restaurant decal is affixed; corn cob holders; Peet's coffee K-cups; orange, six-pack, plastic beer yolk circles; bottle caps; dairy product pull tabs; assorted, metal "church key" bottle openers; olive forks; baby food spoons; souvenir spoons and forks; copper-colored plastic knives; cookie cutters; Mason Jar canning lids; bread closure tabs; red, plastic McCormick spice shaker lids; purple, plastic lids; buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Recently I was honored with a special commission for a local, independent restaurant called The War Mouth.  (The name comes from the Lepomis gulosus, a freshwater fish in the sunfish family.) From the restaurant's  website: The War Mouth serves strong drink, cold beer and delicious local favorites like whole-hog barbecue, slowly cooked over hardwood embers, alongside Carolina Gold rice and old-fashioned hash, smoked ribs or catfish stew and cornbread, or deviled eggs and boiled peanuts, or whatever fresh local produce is on hand, stewed, pickled, charred, fresh and simple, or whatever is called for to eat well.

(Above:  The War Mouth founder and owner ... and my friend Porter Barron and me with Mandala CL on the restaurant wall.)

Obviously, the mandala needed to feature items associated with EATING.  It was a wonderful challenge and everything selected has some obvious relationship to food.  Proudly, the piece is hanging on a wall near the kitchen's reach-through serving window and near the doorway to the great outside patio.  I'm thrilled!

(Above:  The sorely worn star quilt from which I cut the background for Mandala CL.)

I'm especially happy that this gorgeous, old quilt was used for the background.  I got it at auction.  I'm well aware that chintz fabric was popular in the mid-19th century.  Though I don't think this quilt is quite that old, I do suspect that it was stitched in the 1890s or the first decade or so of the 20th century.  The piecing was very well done.  The quilting stitches are fine, tiny, close together and as near perfect as possible.  This quilt must have once been someone's masterpiece. As usual, I paid less than twenty dollars.

(Above:  Detail of the antique quilt's center.)

Why so little?  Well ... the condition of this former masterpiece isn't up to snuff.  Most of the red fabric is worn away.  Some of the blue is going too.  The chintz has lots of fragile/thin/worn issues as well.  Basically, this quilt was far beyond repair.  Yet as beautiful as it still was, I knew it deserved a "second life".  I had no problem cutting the center for this special commission.  (By the way, I'm currently developing another "hair-brained" quilting idea that is using pieces cut from the rest of this quilt!)

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CL.)

Before I stitch the first object to my background, I cover the entire surface with a piece of sheer bridal tulle.  This netting protects the fragile area.  It prevents any of the batting from "escaping" and allows the original quilt to be seen without risking further damage.  The center, however, never shows because I placed a trivet over it.  On the trivet is a War Mouth decal.  The trivet also provides the little "ledge" on which the prongs of the corn cob holders can rest.  The Peet's coffee K-cups were first stitched to the orange, plastic beer yolk circles ... so that the "unit" could be stitched to the quilt. There really is a bit of "engineering" in both the placement of the objects and the procedure of stitching!

(Above and below:  Details of Mandala CL.)

I look forward to visiting this piece when dining at The War Mouth!


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