Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gone Sailing

Quilt No. 74
February 2011

What do carnation pink, orange, and silver have in common?   Absolutely nothing. Pink and orange together remind me of that odd advice, "blue and green should never be seen, except inside the washing machine."  I never agreed with that, but it makes for a better poem than you could squeeze out of the words "pink" and "orange".  This is because orange is basically a cranky colour - friendly with brown, tolerable with yellow, complimentary with blue.  It has only a few friends. But.. orange with pink? And silver?

This colour combination was what I ended up with in the guild's "Crayon Challenge".  We dumped a box of 64 crayons into a bag. Each person pulled out three random crayons.  All crayons went back into the bag between picks, so I wasn't the only one to get the endearing carnation pink crayon. The crayons picked dictated the fabric colours to be used by that person to make a quilt.  Quilters were allowed to add two additional colours of fabric to make their quilts.  The only common factor was that everyone picked unsettling colour combinations.

Sailfish. What evolutionary or divine engineer could ever have come up with such a creature? The long beak, the ribbed sail, the inevitable jumping pose?

My fascination with these fish began when I was a six-year-old with a sore throat. Back then if you were sick you stayed in bed. If enough time went by before you rallied and demanded to return to your outdoor world of skipping ropes and can-kicking, the doctor was called. You didn’t go to his office - he came to your house, accompanied by his mysterious black bag. A stethoscope and thermometer would be pulled out. Other stainless steel medical equipment would slyly feign innocence in the bottom of the bag. Hushed words and tiny pills in flat pink boxes would be dispensed. Eventually you would get better. As the years went by the practice of medicine changed, and the doctor’s time became more and more precious. Forces beyond his control tethered him to the office or the hospital. House calls vanished. A sore throat came to mean a trip to his office.

Our doctor had a mahogany desk littered with papers and inexplicable medical paraphernalia. There were no toys and few magazines. A foray into the medical world was a serious thing. You were to sit and contemplate your lot in the waiting room, not guffaw over the jokes in The Readers Digest. There was, however, one frivolity that escaped all this desperation. An enormous sailfish - a trophy from a fishing trip - had been stuffed and mounted on the wall directly behind the doctor's desk. I can still remember all of its splendid and dusty details. It gleamed with a greenish varnish-like finish, and if you stared at it long enough, it would wink at you.

All fabric used in this quilt has been hand dyed. The sailfish was inspired by a  pin I bought at an antique store in St. Jacobs. I put it in the scanner and used this file to create the scaled-up version of the sailfish you see here. 


  1. wow...tough colours to pick...but as per the usual you pulled it off the story of the fish.. We have two stuffed fish at our cottage...both with great stories!

  2. not soooo anonymous...lia! wow ever hard to post security or what! ha,,ha