Monday, December 14, 2015

Never Forget

Quilt No. 47 January 2006 / machine quilting completed November 2015

One minute of silence seems hardly enough time in which to reflect on the wars of the past, let alone the worries of the present.  But in 2005, as I sat at my desk at work, the one minute of silence on Remembrance Day was enough time to have the entire design of this quilt slip past the background of my thoughts.  I put it on paper, and began working on it soon after, completing the quilt in January 2006.  The quilt has since traveled around to a few Remembrance Day displays, but I was never quite content with it.

By 2015 I had an additional decade of quilting experience under my belt, having completed over 100 quilts.  I was “renovating” some of my older quilts – a great way to practice my machine quilting skills.  Just like archery, restringing your banjo, and taxidermy, machine quilting is a skill.  And the only way to acquire a skill is to practice it. Yes, your teachers, your mother and those pesky nuns who taught you piano were all right.  You have to practice.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that James Bond automatically knew how to slay bad guys, woo beautiful women, and fly any object with wings and a motor.  He had to spend plenty of time practicing all that stuff until he got it perfect.  Machine quilting is exactly the same, minus the bullets and the helicopters.

I was convinced machine quilting this piece would be a couple of afternoon’s work.  Possibly my eyes were crusted over with stupidity – it’s hard to imagine a more inaccurate time line for a project. I first went with a fairly widely spaced round of quilting.  It looked so bad I thought I might have to demote it and use it as a door mat.  At the back door.  I then got serious about doing this quilt right, and machine stitched carefully around every object on the quilt.  Also, the poppies had originally been meant to look as though they were lying on the lawn.  I know.  It never worked for me either.  I added in stems and leaves to push the poppies into the foreground where they belonged.  I then very closely machine quilted the entire quilt.  This caused the side borders to puff out like relentless waves rolling in on a beach.  No matter how much quilting I added to the borders they would not be tamed.  Ultimately, like many things that are defiant without explanation, they had to be cut loose.  Chopped.  Banished.  After all, there was the good of the whole to consider.  A fitting philosophy perhaps, for a quilt depicting the results of war. 

The above photo shows the machine quilting on the back of Never Forget



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