Friday, August 10, 2007

Reality is...

This little quilt, which I intended for the front of a pillow, was the first project that I drafted myself. It was six years ago and I was living in the Little House at the farm, where the rabbit ears on the roof allowed me to get three different public television stations and a public access station that showed local Thai dance troupes on Sundays, but no network tv. It turns out that Thai dance troupes and hand quilting make good company on a dark dark October Sunday night.

My mother had loaned me her Featherweight the previous winter, and I set it up in front of the tiny tv in the cabin's log back room and machine pieced to my exacting measurements (I remember that there were some sixteenths of an inch in my drawing). The building in the quilt is the bank barn at the farm, and I really wanted to capture its essence as a gift for some close friends with whom I rode horses who lived in the barn. I chose the fabrics with a demanding eye, going to two different fabric stores to find the perfect grey for the barn's painted oak sides, and quilting in a bunch of details, from the zig-zag pattern that we raked into the real stone barnyard to the clouds in the sky.

Sometime after attempting my first embroidery on the upstairs windows and before I actually made the cut in what was to be the reverse applique on the first downstairs window (so that tiny appliqued horse heads could hang out, of course!), I got burned out. And then the whole thing started looking wrong and I set it aside and never finished it.

My friends still occasionally ask after their pillow, and I confirm that it's not finished. And the reality is that it will probably never be finished. Because I tried too hard to hold on to reality in this piece. I wish I'd done it with wacky colors and slightly wonky angles, instead of so 'perfectly' that the finished product will never live up to all the work that I put into it, or to the memory of the place.

Last winter, I hung the unfinished barn on the wall in my craft space, along with the bits and pieces of some other patchwork projects that I started and never finished. And there the barn quilt will probably stay, calm and as close to the actual as I could make it (which was not very close), as a reminder to myself to just do it already. And to do it big, do it colorful, do it with gusto. A reminder to get as much feeling in there as possible, and leave the splendor of reality to Nature.

(I always did really like that fabric that I used for the roof-- from my mother's stash.)

Have a great weekend!

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