Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fine Art Memories

Vintage Quilt IV by bbrunophotography

My grandmother was not typical by any means. She was my mama's mother, and I only had her for four short years of my life. Although my memories of her are few, I do recall in vivid detail the room where she spent most of her time. Grandma was bedridden, the victim of a septic, fast-moving form of arthritis that took away her ability to walk. At first she got around in a wheelchair, but it took a lot of upper-body strength to maneuver the wheelchairs of that era, and she couldn't manage.

She didn't lose her bright outlook, nor her love for keeping busy, though. I can remember feeling shy the first time she hoisted me up on her tall bed and showed me some of her plans for the morning. First she'd peel potatoes and carrots for a soup, write a few letters to loved ones, and then came something that really captured my attention: She told me she was going to work on a quilt she'd begun several months earlier.

It wasn't just any quilt. Grandma laughed and called it "crazy".  Crazy quilts were a popular form of fiber art, and a great way to repurpose fabric scraps from worn clothing, curtains, aprons--you name it. Rather than toss things out, Grandma said she cut them into oddball shapes and stitched them together by hand. She'd finish her crazy quilts with a special stitch that created a fancy fence around each fabric swatch. I loved watching her work, like magic unfolding before my very eyes.

Vintage Quilt V by bbrunophotography

I remember the day a big truck pulled up to the curb in front of my house. Mama seemed extra-quiet that morning, and I saw her wiping tears as two men stacked boxes against the living room wall in a long row.  Later, I sat close to her on the couch and watched her open each box one by one, running her hands over the contents inside. I remember how she held a quilt to her face and breathed deeply. "Smells like my mama," she said.

I have a couple of precious family quilts--one from my maternal grandmother and the other from my dad's mother, who passed away before my parents ever met at the close of WWII. This past year, I draped Grandma's familiar quilt across a chair where sunlight warmed those old stitches. Using my Canon DSLR and a closeup lens, I took dozens of pictures of various portions of her handiwork, all the while thinking of the strong woman who created such beauty.

Because each of us has our own favorite color palettes, I decided to take my project a step further, by using a Wacom Intuos digital pen tablet to create a painterly effect.  The result is my new Vintage Quilt Art series.

I think Grandma would be thrilled to think that her crazy quilt, created 70 years ago,  has been re-purposed into fine art prints.  Here are a couple of my personal favorites, available from very small sizes to oversized.
Vintage Quilt II by bbrunophotography

This time of year, my mind automatically rolls back through the years. I've been thinking a lot of family and childhood and special objects that tie me to those special people who are no longer with me. I hope this is a blessed time for you as well, as you think of the people who added richness and color to the fabric of your life.

Take care!

1 comment:

  1. Bonnie,

    God has truly bless you with some great memories. Your grandmother sounds like she was a wonderful creative person.

    God bless you and have a great Christmas :-)



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