Saturday, January 31, 2009

Journals from the Past

I have stumbled across another type of art journal. A journal indicates a passing of time, and is a recording of events of the lives of the people journaling.

In August last year, my mom gave me a quilt that was passed on to her when her mother-in-law, my grandmother died. The quilt came to my grandmother from her mother and I believe, her mother either made it with my grandmother’s grandmother, or on her own.

The quilt is what is known as a Crazy Quilt. The blocks are made from black and brown velvet and top stitched with bright cotton thread. There were also several blocks made from violet silk, this material did not pass the test of time. When I think back to the women working away, making the quilt, I see them using carefully saved scraps from the best dresses made in that household for a decade or more. There is a little embroidered spider along one side that my grandmother was allowed to stitch on as a reward for some accomplishment. She was about 10 years old when she got to add the spider. And she remembered it as a highlight of her growing up. If you look closely you will see the spider along the bottom edge, near the bad fray.

The quilt I received is dirty and frayed, with several blocks of stringy raw silk hanging with just the top embroidery holding it together. Still it gives the sense of lush beauty overall.

This is a journal with large blocks of time between entries. I think it was the bedspread on my Gramma’s bed when I stayed with her when one of my brothers was born in 1955. My Gramma passed away in the late 1970’s and the old quilt has been in one trunk or another ever since.

Now it is in the process of being restored, well that isn’t exactly the right word, a friend and I are taking it apart, replacing the shredded parts with parts that are still whole, and making it into a wall hanging.

I haven’t sewn much since I was a girl but I find my awkward hand stitching and my friends experienced cutting very satisfying. Between us we are adding a block of time to this journal of cloth. I expect it to hang on my wall until I die and pass it on to my granddaughter. It will need to be cleaned and maybe somewhere along the line it will get sewn back into one piece…those blocks of time will be for another to decide.

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