Monday, August 7, 2017

A Quilt as an Open Book: Hope Rants

I've been making quilts nearly as long as I've been making books, although I've made thousands of books and perhaps a dozen or so quilts. That doesn't count all the postcard quilts I made (instructions are here). My journey through quilt making was posted in 2015 , as I made two quilts in a row, then again in May 2016 and June 2017.  Here we are in August 2017 and here is yet one more, with another in the wings. What's going on?

Back in March, I bought ten giant aluminum sign painter's stencils from Rosebud Antiques on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. The owner had the whole alphabet, but my wallet said only ten. I had caught him as he was packing up for the day, and he said to call him with the ten letters I wanted, and he would put them aside for me. Which ten? The phrase, "HOPE RANTS" came to me. Nine! I added a D so I could, at some point, write READ. After trying an online anagram maker, I discovered I could make 2420 phrases with these letters. Sold. At the same time, I had wanted to try making some cyanotypes on cloth. The letters would be cool for that, I thought.

A moonlit night in the studio thereafter, I mixed the chemicals and spread them on square after square of cotton cloth, placing them between blotter paper and under a black garbage bag to dry in the dark. (I would recommend trying out the Jacquard SolarFast Starter Kit, which seems less fussy. I just placed an order for Jacquard Solarfast Teal 4 oz.) The next day, I printed. It seems that the cloth I bought was not plain ecru, but had a texture printed on it. In this case, the sharpness of the image wasn't crucial, so I continued, and found I had a few plain pieces as well (these printed darker). I experimented with some negatives under the letters for even more texture, and I had some paper stencils, which I used as well. I overprinted wood type and carved and printed linoleum blocks on many of the squares with subtle shades of blue and white, peach and olive. It was like creating pages, one at a time, each different from the next. The lino block I carved in a circle says: hope is the thing with or the thing with hope is or with hope is the thing. The rectangular block says: hope belongs to me. hope is an intake of breath. i know there will be more.



I believe this is a combination of a strip quilt and a block quilt, since I sewed sections into both strips and blocks before piecing them all together. The letters are basically in sequence, and there is a right way up.


 detail:

I had much to say on this subject, so the quilting is also more text. I insist on hope! As a quilt hope can cover someone or something. Get wrapped up in it, like a book.
waiting at the end of the leash / hope is warmth just out of reach / hope has wheels and can tow you / hope is an intake of breath / i know there will be more / hope sings / vote to keep hope alive 
I used my own handwriting and sewed freehand, enjoying the variations in the letterforms in contrast with the type and sharp-edged stencils. I tried to keep the stitching neat. Some people seem to prefer the backs to the fronts. (I'm a printmaker, and I like the marks, too. Printmaking is all about transferring marks.) I sewed a hollow tube at top to hang the quilt with a dowel or rod.


 detail:

In the past, I've had trouble working large. I tend to focus on the micro details, so making quilts seems to be a way for me to work both small and large. I've found that half of a twin size is perfect. It's also my height and wingspan, like I embody the other half of the twin, my project, an opening: an open book.

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