A year and a half ago, soon after I turned 40, I gifted myself a sabbatical to explore a new direction in my work. One of the first projects I tackled was to fabricate a sculpture out of an antique quilt top that I'd been holding onto for years with this purpose in mind. The slow evolution of this unfinished quilt has been a learning process for me with many stops and starts.
First, I created a simple drop pattern and proceeded to cut up the entire quilt. The drops were stitched together and stuffed inside-out so the hand-pieced, textured surface would be visible. Ironically the quilt lent me 42 drops--the age I will be turning in a few months.
In order to unify the forms and emphasize their texture without the distraction of a country craft palette each one was painted with black gesso. The gesso transformed the drops from a soft pillow form into a calcified cocoon. After painting, I sanded and stitched the pods to re-emphasize the lines and textures of the original quilted surface. The final surface was fused with a layer of wax lending a skin-like smoothness to these seemingly rough forms.
Through each step this work has pushed and pulled me along. The process was much more involved than I could have predicted at the outset. Nevertheless, I'm glad I keep pulling it back out to puzzle out each step of its transformation. It is a quilt no longer. The 42 drops have been bound tightly to a spine of sorts. I arranged them onto an old lead rope using the measurements of my own torso. For whatever this is, I call it a Lifeline.