Monday, August 13, 2007

Family Heirlooms as Art

Shirley Roeder a friend and member of the Town and Country Quilters made the first photo quilt I had seen. She featured photos of her son's experiences in high school. Like most of us, she copied the photos onto fabric and set them together with boarders to make a traditional square patch of photos and frames. If I remember right the photos tended to fade and those first photo quilts had a short life span.

Technology has opened up all kinds of possibilities for using photos and fading is no longer an issue.

FiberArts Magazine, 2004, offered a look at what some artists are doing on the topic of Immigration and the photo included here was drawn from that article.

The photo also reminds me of the quilts made using traditional patterns such as the Ohio Star or Churn Dash that has traditional 12-inch patterns with a large quilt-size version of the pattern that comes forward from the use of color and piecing choices.

I also like the idea of using ephemera or photos of accessories and ephemera to tell a story about someone. To make a quilt of Mom -- I would include photos of her hands, her bible, the stained glass window of the church she attended from childhood through adult. Her glasses, her pies, recipes, letters, favorite books, her crochet hook -- all would remind me of stories and memories. And these pictures would probably be set together in a flower garden design or that pattern would be incorporated. Maybe a double wedding ring or the big bold Bethlehem Star. Being a teenager in the 1930s certainly impacted her life and much of her quilting reflects the patterns of that era.

Just thinking about a loved one for only a few minutes would give you plenty of ideas what to include to remind you of them and the memories you have of them. At the site Stories Untold: Jewish Pioneer Women the artist has set pages of handwritten diary in blocks along with a photo of the diary's writer. She used various quilt block patterns to further enhance the message and memory. A few other ideas:
  • Think about combining ink stamps with photos.
  • Lay out your quilt as you would a scrapbook page
  • Embellish with doilies crocheted or tatted or knit by the photo subject, or add antique buttons or scraps from their clothing or a lace collar.
  • Use the subject's favorite color or as Shirley Roeder did, set photos together using school colors.
  • Include a glove or sock or other clothing in its entirety
  • My father always used a red bandana -- use those as quilt squares
  • My uncle worked for the railroad -- include logos, items and signs and symbols of your quilt subject's work or employer.
Once you get started, there is no stopping the possibilities of what to include. Setting those photos and ephemera together in a unique juxtaposition -- now that's the challenge.

1 comment:

Kathie said...

I have had a storytelling quilt underway for several years but keep hitting walls over the issues of how much ephemera to include without everything getting all overblown and maudlin. Effective editing is a big part of the success of a piece, and with an art quilt, there are no real rules. I guess I NEED some rules!

You commented on my blog, but after much poring over yours, I can't find any way to get in touch with you...