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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aullwood: Suzanne Mouton Riggio a lesson in perseverance

Since I have been working so hard lately in the garden trying to get it to look its best by this coming Saturday (my daughter has decided to have her senior pictures taken in my a time when it isn't its best because of drought and a gap between the summer bloomers and the autumn glory), I thought I'd share Suzanne Mouton Riggio's Garden Gate.

This particular piece isn't like much of what I have seen of Suzanne Riggio's work. Suzanne, who lives in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin doesn't usually create pieces which are as traditionally based as this...and when I read the artist statement, I understood why.

Suzanne has worked years on this piece. I don't think I could say it as well as she has, so I'm going to include her statement here:

"I had not been quilting for long when I decided to do a garden quilt with a wrought iron gate in front of it. It was such fun finding all the flowers and leaves, then organizing them so that the larger were in the forefront and the smaller in the distance. Prior to quilting, in order to show the garden in early morning with fog in the distance, I painted silk for the background in graduating greens and emphasized its depth by meander stitching the distant foliage in greens from light (farther) to dark (closer).

I chose green rat-tail to be the iron gate. The longest stretch of time in the making of this quilt was the hand couching. I kept the work in a tote bag that traveled with me to doctor's offices and hospital rooms where I got a few stitches in while I was waiting to be seen or while visiting my heart patient husband. After 12 years, I was hospitalized for spinal surgery. A lengthy convalescence enabled me to finally complete the couching.

The binding proved extremely difficult too. Because I was now a parapalegic, I used my right hand to work the foot pedal of my sewing machine and my left hand to manipulate the fabric. In spite of using the zipper foot, I was unable to close the gap between the outermost rattail and the binding. Yay for perseverance and stitch ripping!"

Unfortunately, Suzanne doesn't have a website per se or a blog, but she has exhibited widely and has had several articles written about her. You can see one of her pieces here. You can find more by Googling her name.

Her piece is 26 1/2" square and you can see it here hanging with the other garden like quilts in the Aullwood Nature Center's exhibition hallway.

Like Suzanne, my quilting is my constant companion in doctor's offices and hospitals...and other places, including waiting to be seated at restaurants. I just can't stand to not have my hands going. :)

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