Wednesday, August 5, 2009


(Sacred, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 18" x 31". Crayon on fabric grave rubbing on severely light damaged, old office curtain with an overlay of 19th c. black lace; recycled black felt; vintage buttons. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Click on image to enlarge.)

To read the original, August 5th blog entry with images that can be "clicked on" for enlarge, please go HERE!

I made this grave rubbing in the cemetery outside Chester Cathedral in England. The stone was flat on the ground, weathered, and used as part of the public walking area around the building. It dated from the early 19th century (circa 1820) and had the largest and most ornately carved word, "Sacred". Amazingly (and probably because it was flat on the ground!), I got this excellent impression.

The words on the gravestone were generally selected by a family member or mourner. They represent a then "present day" statement about a loved one who just became part of "the past". Yet, these words address those who come in "the future" all those who will come once I, too, am part of the past. I love this notion of shifting time....past, present, and future all captured in the words left in a cemetery.

Using recycled and vintage household linens is part of my part to express this notion of time. The aprons, tea towels, pillowcases, buttons, lace, doilies, and recycled material all had a completely different "life" in the "past". I am using them in my "present" and hoping that they will be seen now and also in "the future". (I hope this makes sense!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Death the Divider

(Above: Death the Divider, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Crayon on fabric. Hand and free-motion machine embroidery. Vintage pillowcase with crochet and severely light damaged materil. Vintage buttons. 38 1/2" x 19 1/2". Detail below.)

From the original, July 27th blog post with images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement:

This piece was mostly stitched in Minnesota. I returned to finish the free-motion work, add the buttons, and create the unique back from vintage linens. I'm particularly happy about the new "sleeve". Until the workshop at the University of Minnesota, I didn't realize that the sleeve needed to incorporate "space" for the hanging rod. (This seems pretty obvious now....but I just didn't "get it"....probably because I don't actually hang all this on my own walls.)

Obviously, I remain under the kantha stitch spell. This piece is really "thick". I use recycled black felt from a kayak shop for the center. Most stitches were done a "poke at a time"....but, even so it was very mediative. Also, this was the first grave rubbing quilt that I didn't free motion around the individual letters. The words came from Birmingham, UK (I think?) and the floral pattern came from Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.

He Who Is

(Above: He Who Is, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 32 1/2" x 22". Crayon on fabric rubbing with free motion and hand embroidery. Vintage buttons.)

I made this grave rubbing in the Serbian Cemetery in Colma, California. It is the largest single rubbing I've ever attempted and it turned out fabulously. Thus, it became a whole quilt. As I've recently learned, a whole quilt is created using a single piece of fabric for the top layer. It is generally white; has no patchwork or applique; and relies on the stitching for its ornamentation. Well, the fabric isn't exactly white and the stitching is simply the kantha running stitches and there is a design.....but, by and large, this is a whole quilt! I did the hand stitching during last week's trip to England. Once home, I finished it with vintage buttons, buttonhole stitches, and a unique reverse made of old household linens.

(Above: Detail of front. Below: Reverse, vintage linens and apron.)

The title is a rough translation of the letters found in the halo. The other letters, beside the halo spell "Jesus Christ". The original, July 11, 2009 blog post with images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement, is HERE!


(Reverence. Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Crayon on taffeta. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. 25" x 20 1/4". Vintage buttons.

From the original, June 23rd blog post:

Just put me in a car for a seven-and-a-half to eight hour one-way drive and then back again! I love riding....looking out the window....and especially STITCHING! This newest piece in the Grave Rubbing Quilt series was merely basted before our trip to Washington, DC. My idea of basting is a few lines of free motion stitching...which remain. Since returning home, I added the buttons, cut a vintage tablecloth for the reverse, and buttonhole stitched the edges. Otherwise, the piece was done in the car. That's lots and lots of kantha stitching....running stitches that unite layers of fabric. It's very meditative.

(Above: Detail of front. Below: Reverse)
This art quilt was named after an Internet request by Ruth in Montana.

Take Ye Heed

(Above: Take Ye Heed, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Crayon on fabric rubbing collaged with vintage and assorted lace and linens. Hand and free motion machine embroidery. Words: Take Ye Heed. Watch and Pray for ye know not when the time is. Mark XIII.)

From the original blog post with images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement:

On June 17th I finished the newest piece in the Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a shot of the reverse which once was a card table/bridge tablecloth. The rubbing was made in the old Warstone Lane cemetery in Birmingham, England. Most of the linens and lace were from my "stash" (which is starting to dwindle! Yikes!) The two hand dyed pieces of lace were a gift from Linda Lynch. I hope she likes how I've put them to use!

Never Accurate But Never Dull

(Above: Never Accurate But Never Dull, Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 24" x 18". Crayon on silk grave rubbing collaged with vintage lace on severely light damaged curtains. Hand and free-motion machine embroidery.

This quilt was accepted by juror Paul Kaufman into the regional exhibition at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, GA from September 24 – October 26, 2009. The show, Fiber Artistry - Journey of the Imagination is sponsored by The Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild.

From the original, May 25th blog post about this art quilt:

Looking back, cemeteries have always been a fascination. Chiseled gravestones, flags and flowers, and a place for remembrances have always been important to me. Now, however, I'm deeply involved in an art series using grave rubbings, epitaphs, and photos from these sacred places. It just happened to be Memorial Day weekend when this creative adventure took us to our nation's capital and Arlington National Cemetery.

While at Arlington, I wandered off by It just seemed right. This is often how I walk through cemeteries. I've had some comments/emails about "respect" with regards to grave rubbings. Please note, I don't use any of the names; I pick up litter as I go; I pray; I step quietly and barefoot...though, yes, upon the grave site. This artistic work is being made and collected with my utmost respect.

Then, I stitched the entire way home....on another Grave Rubbing Quilt....Never Accurate But Never Dull. While this isn't the sort of thing I might want left said of my life, the words spoke volumes to me. These appeared to be words left by a husband for his cherished wife. The vintage lace and crocheted glove just seemed perfect for it.

(Above: Detail of front. Below: Reverse.)

Dove of Peace

(Above: Dove of Peace, Grave Rubbing Series. 14" x 18". Black crayon on taffeta, recycled felt, vintage linen backing; antique lace; beads; hand and free motion machine embroidery.)

The original blog post with an image that can be "clicked on" for enlargement is HERE and includes this paragraph:

This grave rubbing was done from three different stones in the Presidio Military Cemetery in San Francisco. It is only the second piece in the series that isn't a collage; it's a "whole quilt"....I think(?) I've really only been quilting since last fall and am not sure about all the proper vocabulary. Whatever it is....there's only one piece of material making up the top layer. I didn't actually "plan" the design; I just liked how these rubbings looked without snipping them apart first. When I put the antique lace in place, I knew my design was complete. For some reason, I didn't do a lot of handwork on this small art quilt. I don't think it needed it.

Colma....City of the Dead

The Grave Rubbing Quilt Series took me to Colma, California....City of the Dead....with its seventeen cemeteries and an entire weekend devoted to discovering more epitaphs, creating more grave rubbings, and especially immersing myself into the theme for the future exhibit and artwork. The blog post about this important trip is HERE!

Be Ye Also Ready

(Above: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series: Be Ye Also Ready. Crayon grave rubbing on fabric collaged onto vintage black lace over severely sun damaged curtains. Recycled felt center, vintage buttons, hand and machine embroidery. 24" x 18".)

From the May 13th blog post about this art quilt:
My love affair with kantha stitching...those wonderful running stitches that unite recycled as strong as ever. The taupe colored material once hung as drapery in an office. The black felt quilt center (batting) once protected a kayak or canoe being shipped to River Runner, a local outdoor sporting store. The's vintage. These materials have all had other uses but were stitched together as a quilt....lots of stitches. Only the outlines of the letters and some of the grave rubbing details were stitched in free motion machine embroidery. The rest....all handwork!
To access the original post and its images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement, please go HERE!

Touring a Funeral Home

By April 2009 the Grave Rubbing Series had expanded into a plan for a solo exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady Street in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. This setting is also the location of my studio. The grave rubbing quilts and a related, hanging installation of free-motion embroidered epitaphs on sheer chiffon will become part of "Last Words and the Blues", a two-part exhibit. The main gallery will showcase Blues Chapel. The atrium will become "the cemetery". To further my knowledge and stimulate my creativity, I visited Shive's Funeral Home in March 2009. That blog post can be accessed HERE! The test for the hanging installation can be accessed HERE!

Killed Instantly

(Grave Rubbing Quilt Series, Killed Instantly. 24 1/2" x 24". Running stitch in wool. Vintage doily with embroidered poppies and vintage lace and linens on severely light damaged material salvaged from an old office window. Grave rubbings made with crayon on silk with words: Born 1817. Killed instantly in front of Petersburg, Va. June 22, 1864. Brave Christian Solider Fare Thee Well.)

The original blog post about this work can be found HERE with images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement.

The text included:This Grave Rubbing Series piece was finished March 17, 2009. I'm totally in love with the repetitive and soothing motion of the kantha stitch....running stitches that meld layers into one. This piece has triggered many thoughts about the words selected for graves. Obviously, these words speak of the raw emotions of a distraught family. I can't, however, think the man would have really wanted to be remembered quite for this one event! There must have been more to him than his death! As a result, I've been collecting epitaphs...scribbled in my notebook...stewing in my brain for future work. I've also started a very, very large grave rubbing quilt. I'll have to post images while it progresses as I can't possibly finish it anytime soon! The poppies are a perfect touch. As a Girl Scout, I remember selling artificial poppies on Veteran's Day to benefit the VA hospital. To learn more about the Poppy Story, click here.

(Above and below: Additional details.)

Lost at Sea

(Above and below: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series: Lost at Sea. 18" x 21". Crayon on silk rubbing, scraps of an opaque chiffon scarf, hand and machine embroidery on severely light-damaged remnants of an old curtain. Words: Lost at Sea; Drowned (repeated); We therefore commit this body to the deep...Looking for the resurrection....When the sea shall give up her dead".)

The original, March 20th 2009 blog post with images that can be enlarged and text about this art quilt includes the following paragraph:

I didn't photograph the reverse of this small art quilt as I didn't use vintage linens. I did, however, use recycled black felt in place of the batting. It came from the local canoe and kayak shop. New boats are sent to such stores wrapped in perfectly usable felt. The owner didn't want to throw it away, so he gave me yards and yards of the stuff! There's something wonderful in using old linens, recycled materials, and grave rubbings together. The used fabric just seems to feel it is lending a spirit of the past and making a point of remembrance. It also seemed "right" to incorporate something attached to the notion of a "boat" with the sentiments of loss and mystery surrounding such a death.

God Called Her Home to Heaven

(Above, front and below, reverse: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. God Called Her Home to Heaven. 17" x 12". Hand and free-motion machine embroidery on vintage guest towel. Crayon rubbings. Found, vintage photograph and lace. Reverse includes "Asleep in Jesus" rubbing.)

This quilt was finished in early March 2009. The original blog post with images that can be enlarged is HERE!

The Just By Faith Shall Live Again

(Above, front and below, reverse. Grave Rubbing Series Quilt. The Just by Faith Shall Live Again. 14" x 18". Hand and free-motion machine embroidery on vintage linen and severely light damaged, recycled curtain scrap with found buttons. Crayon rubbing. Reverse: Vintage hand embroidered linen runner.)

This small quilt was accepted by jurors Eugenia Barnes and Roger Smith into the 2009 National Small Art Quilts Works Exhibition in Groton, NY at the Main Street Gallery, from July 23 - September 6, 2009.

To visit the original blog post with images that can be enlarged, click HERE!

Thy Blessed Will Be Done

(Above and below. Grave Rubbing Quilt. Thy Blessed Will be Done. Grave rubbing on silk machine stitched to a vintage doily, a scrap of a severely light damaged curtain, and finally onto a piece of fringed crochet. I hand stitched it to the crochet so that the back is still visible. This was finished in mid-February 2009.

To visit the original blog post with images that can be enlarged, please click HERE!

Father and Mother

(Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Father and Mother. 29" x 30". Crayon on silk rubbings. Vintage drawn work linen. Silk. Hand and free-motion machine embroidery.)

This quilt was accepted by juror Cynthia Bringle as BEST OF SHOW at Palmetto Hands 2009, the annual South Carolina fine craft exhibition held at the North Charleston Convention Center. It was also accepted by jurors Sylvia Einstein and Judy Becker into Art Quilts Lowell 2009, a national juried exhibition held in the Brush Gallery, Lowell, MA from August 5 - September 19, 2009.

This quilt was finished in early February 2009. The following words accompanied the blog post I wrote at that time. To access this original post and the images that can "clicked on" for enlargement, please go HERE!

Okay, this is officially a series: The Grave Rubbing Series.

I made all these rubbings in Maine while at the MacNamara Foundation residency program. I had fantasies of making art with the results. It all seemed so bohemian and exotic...dancing alone in a cemetery with yards of silk fabric and a child's brown crayon...dreaming about the art I'd make...letting nature and a sense of eternal peacefulness take control. the autumn sunsets and the picture-perfect setting...I thought this was just a "wish" or wishful thinking. I thought that I'd feel regret for purchasing the fabric and wasting a perfect afternoon pursuing an idealized idea of "being an artist". Honestly, I hoped to make art...but never would have bet on actually doing it. The "censor" in the back of my mind chided me...saying, "You'll never really DO anything with all these grave rubbings"

Well....I did. I am.....and.... I will be doing even more. This is officially a series. Where it is going is anyone's guess. Father and Mother is the latest one finished. I think I stitched it to within an inch of its life...or death! I used some sort of Pellon, stiff material on the back so that the corners would hold their positions despite a lower placement for the rod sleeve on the reverse.

18th Century Angel

(Above: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. 18th. Century Angel.)

This quilt was accepted into the Wichita National All Media Craft Exhibition 2009 at the Wichita Center for the Art, September 4 - October 18, 2009.

The rubbing was made in Maine; it incorporates the chiseled relief from two very early with an angel and the other with a fern. The fabric is silk. The date on the tombstones was 1796. I appliqued the heat-set crayon rubbing onto a vintage piece of linen with an elaborate crocheted edge. The linen was damaged....the center had several holes and stains. I simply adore taking a discarded object and restoring it to a state of beauty. The background fabric was recycled from an office in the building where Gallery 80808/Vista Studios is located. The sun had stained the curtains. Dirt, errant sprays of paint, and neglect had taken its toll on the material. I asked the janitor if I could have it. He thought I was is the PERFECT coloring...the PERFECT weight and texture. It is also the PERFECT feel for this piece. The edge is a row of vintage buttons.

(Above: Detail. )
To read the original blog post with images that can be enlarged, please go HERE!

Early Grave

(Above: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series. Early Grave. February 2009.)

This is the piece that isn't quite finished. I see it as something more than a simple quilt. I've already bought a rusted, iron fixture to use with it. I envision a shroud....and modern words on sheer netting. I thing this piece is pivotal in the series as this piece is more personal than the others. After all, I'm turning fifty year old this summer.

Okay, I know I've been "claiming" to be 50 since early last year. I HATE all the ages ending with the number 9. Jack Benny forever ruined the age "39" and no one really believes those ages anyway. I went straight for the "big" number as soon as I thought I could. So....I've been claiming to be age 50 for over a year despite the fact that my birthday isn't until June 24th of this coming summer.

The grave in Maine coupled the words "50 yrs. 6 mos." with "early grave". Well, I certainly think dying at 50 would be an early grave! Somehow, I've got to get this piece to reflect my emotional response to seeing the grave. I've been experimenting with free-motion embroidery on netting for a stream-of-consciousness text to "float" over the quilt.'s my quilt....I'm still working on the proper way to display it!

My thoughts on the series from February 2009

(Above: Several yards of grave rubbings created in Maine. Crayon on silk....following an idea from Jeanne Williamson's The Uncommon Quilter.)

Recently, I've been stitching on a new series. All the work happens to be quilts...which for me is a little strange. I've never thought of myself as a quilter but somehow it just seems the right way to use all the grave rubbings I created last autumn in Maine. I'm appliqueing the silk rubbings and vintage linens together. The process seems as much about personal mortality as it does in the preservation of universal memories.

Mortality, especially my own, and MEMORY...these are the feelings I have when visiting cemeteries....and I love walking through graveyards. There are stories just beneath the surface...entire families who have left a mark, a name, a clue to their existence. I feel close to history and part of the inevitable evolution of life. I think about the work I want to make before I die. I think about the symbolic hourglass and the sands of do I want to spend the remaining years, months, weeks, days, hours....?

I had an chance to visit the very famous Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah a little over a week ago. I want to share some of the hundreds of photos I took. Hopefully, others will feel a kindred spirit with my curiosity and affection for these special places/special tombs....for these personal thoughts about art and life. How can I stitch my emotions? How can I leave a mark/thread that will touch someone yet to be born?

All the statues stare into space...not into ones eyes. Many point a path to the sky, to heaven, to some uncharted location. All of the carved figures seem to know something special. (I shot well over 300 images in less than an hour and a half....which is saying quite a lot. Each depression of the shutter somehow felt like an intrusion....a disturbance of the peace and quiet of the cemetery. I felt as if one foot was in heaven and the other trying to blog about the trip!)

I know that my Grave Rubbing Quilt series is "going somewhere". I just don't know the location. I'm stitching....stitching like mad! I feel a peaceful calm about the series....something that tells me to keep working....the reason will make itself clear in time!

To visit the blog post from which these words came and with images from Bonaventure Cemetery, please click HERE!

Our Darling Sons

(Above: Grave Rubbing Quilt Series: Our Darling Sons. Rubbings created with crayon on silk; Appliqued onto vintage linens with crocheted edges. Hand and free-motion machine embroidery.) This quilt was accepted by juror Pritika Chowdhry into a national show at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago called Cultural Memory: Transdiasporic Art Practices, September 4 - October 10, 2009.

(Above and below: Details from Grave Rubbing Quilt Series: Our Darling Sons. Words include: Died in infancy; Blessed; Gentle; Our Darling Sons; Died; Son 1895; Young; Eldest Son; Suffer little children to come unto me; I take this little lamb said he, And lay it in my breast, Protection it shall find in me, In Me be ever blest; and Safe in the Arms of Jesus.)

On the first of February, I wrote about this art quilt: The grave rubbings I made in Maine are currently my focus for both hand and free-motion machine embroidery. The trip to Savannah and its Bonaventure Cemetery are fueling each running the kantha clothes in Indian, I feel a sense of memory, softness, and personal investment. I've started two more pieces in this series too!

(Above: Reverse.)
To visit the blog post with images that can be "clicked on" for enlargement, please go HERE!