Saturday, February 06, 2010

30 year quilt

it started, to tell you the truth, when some guy gave me about half a dozen army shirts, one day back in the seventies in iowa city. maybe i had been complaining about not having enough shirts. anyway, these shirts fit fine, and were comfortable, and were even the same color as my eyes, but, you can imagine, i was not a popular guy for wearing them around. for one thing, i looked like fidel, with my long beard. for another, i had not been in the service, and was known to be against the war. it was assumed, then, that i was making some kind of political statement. i was not. i was just wearing these shirts. but, i found myself on the defensive all the time, and not enjoying it.

nevertheless i couldn't throw them away. they were comfortable, durable, and pretty, even, if you ignored the whole army symbolism thing. a dull kind of metallic green is not so bad if it doesn't shout ARMY at you. anyway, i then got this idea to make a kind of swords-into-plowshares kind of thing, but i never did find a good model of a plowshare or even a plough. now i sound kind of lazy, i realize. but, i was never big on research with this quilt; it was kind of a matter of principle; if it didn't come to me naturally, i let it go. sometimes i let it go for years at a time...maybe seven, or ten.

when i went to korea i stored its pieces in a bag in a basement, not far from a furnace, and worried that it would catch the place on fire. every time i moved i had to move the squares, the fabrics, and the stuff i stored them in; i could make it take up less space, but i couldn't bear to throw any of it away. i'd sewed squares, 11 X 13 or 143 of them, and would have had a quilt the size of a double bed. but it was overwhelming; 4 X 143 would have been over 500 triangles, and the last time i stopped, after about the tenth triangle, i was severely disillusioned. so i cut way back. now i want 196 triangles, and have about 88, almost half. i had 81 at the time the picture below was taken, this morning. i can do ten on a good saturday but once the week gets started i'll have trouble doing any.

you can see, in the picture, a general kind of earth-water-air-fire division. the earth is closest to you and the fire is way up in the right corner. this is because it dates from the hippie era, and one of its principles is the general randomness of flannel shirts on jeans, at the same time the perfect harmony of the universe, to bring together all these chance cool shirts and jeans., all on one quilt.

that's all i'll say for now. what you see is mostly backgrounds, and unfinished squares; the designs are coming, and it will all be tighter, and brighter, whether it's in the sun or not. it's a bowtie pattern. there's no way it'll hurt a baby, and the only damage a baby can do is spit up on it, which i'm sure would be ok, with these particular pants and shirts. after all, they were all worn by her grandfather.


Blogger Peggy said...

I remember those shirts!!

2:47 AM  

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