Saturday, November 29, 2008

Souls

Quilt No. 52
October 2006

Tuesdays with Morrie, a long-standing bestseller by Mitch Albom, tells the true story of his relationship with his professor, Morrie Schwartz. Mitch meets with Morrie every Tuesday afternoon as Morrie progresses through the devastating disease process of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His view of life and what is meaningful is profoundly changed as he begins to absorb Morrie’s final lessons.

Mitch Albom writes:

As my visits with Morrie go on I begin to read about death, how different cultures view the final passage. There is a tribe in the North American Arctic, for example, who believe that all things on earth have a soul that exists in a miniature form of the body that holds it – so that a deer has a tiny deer inside it, and a man has a tiny man inside him. When the large being dies, that tiny form lives on. It can slide into something being born nearby, or it can go to a temporary resting place in the sky, in the belly of a great feminine spirit, where it waits until the moon can send it back to earth.
Sometimes, they say, the moon is so busy with the new souls of the world that it disappears from the sky. That is why we have moonless nights. But in the end, the moon always returns as do we all.
That is what they believe.


Quilting Notes
The Earth  The Earth was created using Setacolor fabric dyes, with the silvery Shimmer Pearl added in a final layer, to create swirls of clouds.

The Sky  The initial sky background I made for this quilt used numerous strips of different black fabrics with gold stars. It was too cluttered looking, so I decided to use only one piece of fabric for the sky. As I started to take apart the discarded “sky” to reclaim the fabric, I envisioned using it as a night sky, with penguins on an iceberg. This became a small quilt entitled, What Do You Suppose Is Out There? It was finished before Souls, which became stalled in its wait for suitable objects to use as souls.

The Souls  The human souls were easy to find. My daughter readily agreed to let me use the tiny Guatemalan worry dolls she had received as a child. In Guatemala, children tell their worries to these dolls and place them under their pillow. In the morning, the worries are gone. The other souls were more difficult to locate. I tried unsuccessfully to find buttons or any metallic or plastic or wooden embellishments to use as animal figures for the souls. I finally gave up looking and began canvassing fellow crafters for a solution. Bonnie Spylo, of Bonnie’s Scrapbooking, found wonderful wooden animals at a Michaels store when she was travelling. I found a few additional souls in the form of iron-on patches.

Procuring souls was one thing, but how to arrange them on the quilt? This proved to be a huge hurdle, so I pinned the quilt on a large piece of cardboard and kept rearranging the souls on a daily basis. This went on for weeks. By this time, the quilt had been finished and waiting for the “souls” to be applied for 4 - 5 months. Eventually, I tried arranging them in a flowing curve that wanders behind the moon. This arrangement gave the quilt a feeling of motion, as though the souls were being pulled along together in an unbroken chain of life.

The Moon  It proved quite challenging to find just the right shape for the moon. Although there seemed to be an infinite number of moon shapes in drawings and pictures and shapes I created myself, none of them combined the correct proportion of crescent shape and pointiness that I wanted. With a great deal of trial and error, the final shape was finally achieved. The golden moon fabric was recycled from a favourite blouse.

Additional Notes
Selecting the quilting lines in the sky required a distant vanishing point far beyond the borders of the quilt. Several tables and rulers had to be called into play in order to get the lines set up in the right configuration. To attach the wooden animal souls to the quilt I glue-gunned a piece of wool on the back of each animal, and used a large darning needle to run the wool through the quilt and tie it at the back.

2 comments:

  1. Wow! I did not know that this quilt was inspired by Albom's book. I have all three of his books, my favorite being The Five People you meet in Heaven. I am fascinated on how you pick something up in a book and can creat a whole other story. I love the quilt even more and want to take a closer look next time we meet.

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  2. I love the "little souls" concept, including all life forms. Beautiful!

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