Here is the latest quilt, Rae's Sun on Mary's Iris, freshly laundered and photographed this morning. This one is on the smaller side...about 45 inches square. I made it for the above named Rae. She inherited a bolt of muslin from Mary, who was her much loved, much older friend and neighbor. Mary was a seamstress, a gardener, a cook, and an inspiration to the young girl who lived next door during the summers. Rae was by Mary's bedside during her last long illness and Mary gave her some of the things that symbolized the time that they had spent together. Among these things was a bolt of muslin originally intended, I believe, for lining curtains. It was of no particular value but Rae wanted me to use it in a quilt -- maybe on the back we thought.
This beautiful saturated yellow was the result. The muslin took up the dye with an almost grateful intensity. Also the texture of the muslin was transformed into a beautiful almost papery feel. Rae and I had a design in mind, involving Cherry Trees I believe, but this yellow wasn't going to work with that. On the other hand we loved the yellow so much that it seemed easier to change our minds than to change the color -- so we waited. Last spring I visited Rae at her summer cottage and this is what I saw.
This is one of the many irises that were growing in the 3 foot wide strip of garden between Rae's house and Mary's. They used to weed and plant that garden together, one on each side, and then break for lemonade when the sun got too intense. And the day that I visited was one of the first really hot days when the intense sunlight just beats down. This is the time of year when Mainer's get sunburns because we just can't believe how warm, how bright, how wonderful the sun feels to the people, the plants and the animals who were buried in snow just 6 weeks earlier. That's how the Irises came into the picture -- that day.
I'm showing you the back of the quilt in this picture so you can see the yellow without the Iris design. I also wanted to show you how I make the sleeves (one on each side of the quilt for this one) and bind the edge at the same time. You can slip a rod through the green sleeve on any side of this piece and hang it. But I also wanted to show you that this quilt is one where it is really all about the background....the flowers are just there to call attention to it really. This is a quilt about sunlight and growing things, and the old woman and young girl who got together in the side yard to celebrate that. And as a consequence something incredibly valuable grew between the two of them -- a friendship.
And just for fun here is another close up of the Iris. As you can see it doesn't really look that much like the iris in the picture, but that is the get out of jail free card of the artist -- it doesn't have to look like what you are depicting. It just has to communicate the essence and the feeling of what you are seeing. This is a very happy, sunny quilt. You can feel the love.