Let me start with this statement: I am not a sentimental or romantic person. I don’t collect things from my childhood, not even things from my daughter’s early years. I have no problem when my husband forgets our wedding anniversary or if somebody doesn’t call me for my birthday. When my grandmother died I didn’t keep anything from her stuff as memento and when my father died I only took over his BMW because it’s a really nice car and I’m an only child and my mother couldn’t use it.
The same goes for my quilts. If I make a quilt for someone I don’t care what they use it for. Fine if they wrap the baby in it (as intended), equally fine if the dog sleeps on it. Really! I couldn’t understand my friend who was heart-broken when a quilt she gave to a friend was nailed to the wall (with really large nails, producing holes the size of a quarter Dollar).
And last week that all changed.
Maybe you still remember what I told you about the “Portrait Shuffle” organized by “Through our Hands”, a textile art group. The idea was to make a portrait on a canvas, it will be hung at the prestigious Festival of Quilts in Birmingham (England) and then the portraits will be shuffled and a random one will be sent back to you. “Through our Hands” established a blog to show all the great portraits they received – one more beautiful than the other. You could be the lucky receiver of a portrait/quilt by Alicia Merrett, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, Jette Clover, Linda Barlow, Sandra Meech or of a lot of other celebrities of the quilting world.
I was thinking about my portrait for a long time. It should be a kind of quilt not a drawing and it should be in the bright colors that I so love. I was thinking about a Picasso-like face or a Venetian mask – but no idea was really that appealing. And then I looked down where my dog Felix was happily snoring away under my desk. How about a portrait of Felix? In bright colors?
I looked through my photos of Felix and found a suitable one. I traced the outline and divided the forms, the lines mimicking the fall of his fur. I fused colorful fabric to the background trying to leave very small gaps between the fabrics. In these gaps I hand-embroidered black lines. (From pre-school on this was always my favorite way of coloring – black outlines filled with the brightest colors.) I glued batting to the canvas to get the quilty feeling and mounted the portrait. It looked fabolous and exactely like Felix.
And then it happened. I was not able to put the portrait in an envelope and send it to England. It was impossible for me to send my own dog away. What if the portrait goes to someone who doesn’t like dogs, to someone who will throw it away? For the first time in 28 years of quilting I understand the meaning of “I put all my heart and soul into it”.
For several days I tried to convince myself to send the quilt but I couldn’t bring me to do it. As much as I would like to own a quilt by Alicia Merrett or Annabel Rainbow Felix will stay at home. Sorry “Through our Hands” I would have loved to be part of the exhibition. Next time I will make an unknown horse.
I am very much looking forward to seeing all the portraits in Birmingham in a little bit more than a week.