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Monday, December 10, 2012

Misreads and development of a quilt

A while ago, I made the quilt "View from the Abyss," as my entry into Quilt National.  As expected, it didn't get in, but I was encouraged by several people to try it in another show.  SAQA's show "Deux" seemed like a logical attempt, for those people who had never made it into a SAQA show.  I have had pieces in  regional shows, but as a relatively new member to SAQA, I've never gotten into one of the bigger ones.   I read the initial prospectus....but something didn't click.   I reworked "Abyss" so that it was 30" (actually, 32") so it would qualify.  And then I didn't think too much about it...untill I clicked on the entry form just after Thanksgiving....OOOOPS! When I re-read it, I suddently realized WHY they called it Deux.  I thought initially that Deux just referred to a second chance.....but NOOOOOOO....I don't know if it was just my wrong thinking or as a side effect of chemo.  "Deux" is a CONVERSATION between two quilts....and you had to enter at least two quilts.  Well,...ooops.  Quick! Grab your needle and thread and let's roll!

"Abyss" was originally conceived as a representation of depression.  Yes, I entered it into the SAQA exhibition "I'm Not Crazy" but I realized that it probably wouldn't be accepted for a variety of reasons, one being that it was grey and black...and monochromatic quilts often don't make it into shows as ones with brilliant use of color attract more attention....Yes, this is an oversimplification, but it does have a part.  The other aspect is that when the extended description came out, I knew that my quilt was a tad too subtle for this.  "Abyss" was to represent looking up from the dark hole, seeing some hope, and figuring out a way to pull oneself up.  I don't suffer from depression, other than the teenaged angst, except for one time. After I finished my treatment for breast cancer in 1994, I slid into depression and didn't realize it until I recognized that having a Christmas tree up in my living room for a week and not hanging any ornaments on it even though I had a 2 1/2 year old...was probably a good indication that I needed a prod into the right direction.  I had no idea that I was depressed until I saw what I was doing.  This quilt was my representation of what I remembered it feeling like. Veiled...deep...

So...I thought my "conversation" between the pieces would also include "Reaction" --how I have been dealing with my stage IV diagnosis this time around.  I knew that I wanted to have lots of loose threads, coming unraveled as it were.  I knew I wanted it to be on a quilted white background representing the happiness and fluffy life that most people experience.  I wanted to have a sliver of shiny gold representing my life, getting progressively narrow as my time runs out.  A red line would run through the gold and it would be on a black background.  But...what black?
I went to JoAnn's and bought several possibilities which I tried out.  This one was a linen suiting.  The threads unraveled nicely and it had a rather smooth background to contrast with the white panne velvet I was using for the body of the quilt.

The second thought was black burlap as I thought the contrast would be even greater and it would show nicely.  However, the open weave of the burlap caused it to "read" grey, not black and it was a little too much.

The third choice was a polyester black "oriental" brocade.  I thought it would be good because of the play with the quilting I had in mind for the background, although the raveling on this one would be a bit fuzzy. As much as I liked the chrysanthemum mon idea, I didn't think it worked as well as the smooth, plain field of the linen.

I quilted the background with interweaving lines of gold thread.  I was snarling greatly at my Bernina because it has a habit of having too tight a tension just before you hit the needle....not the upper tension, but inside.  In addition, the large cone of thread constantly had the bottom whipping around the core and catching, causing the thread to break.  Not fun. always takes me a long time, especially with metallic as you need to keep your speed a little slower than if I was quilting with cotton threads.

So here's the finished version.  I have been on chemo since November of 2010, with a couple of short breaks.  I just had  a P.E.T. scan on Wednesday last, and I am pretty sure that the cryptic message my oncologist left telling me he would call me today (Monday) because he needed to talk to me about the PET becaue "It was complicated"  doesn't bode well. I feel like my options for life are getting smaller and smaller, just as the gold narrows on the quilt.  The raveling of the black and on the gold represent my life falling apart.

I don't know if this is enough "conversation" between the two pieces or not, but it does fit into my series on my journey with breast cancer....I regret it has become so much a part of my life-I was first diagnosed at age 34; the initial stage IV diagnosis was in December, 1997 and I know I have lived longer than most, but I'm not too thrilled with the fact that I've failed on three protocols so far with this recurrence...four if you count the Zometa/Faslodex shot.

I feel like I really have to put it in high gear to make quilts, use up some of my stash and to get some of the stuff out of the way so my husband and daughter don't have to deal with it...I suppose it seems pretty silly.  But then...I'm often pretty silly!

Here's what the "View from the Abyss" looks like now that it is 32" wide rather than the 27 it started out as.

Here it is now.  Below, you can see again what it started out as.  Which do you like better?  

1 comment:

KAM said...

Lisa....I believe that the changes you made in the first quilt are very successful, and I like very much your new quilt which is talking to the first.....and I am feeling a need to really spend some time each day writing, thinking and feeling positive, prayerful thoughts for you and your family. Thank you for sharing the quilts you submitted and the story, written with such deep, feeling, centered and strong words. I appreciate that you have shared this on your quilt blog today.
Big hug....