February 10, 2009

Fabric for "Shelter"

I was in Phoenix this past weekend visiting my sister, and we went to three quilt shops, looking for more fabric to fill in the palette for "Shelter." I was able to find a large range of turquoise/aqua fabrics, a fair amount of cobalt/royal blue and rusty red. I found just a couple of black batiks, with the rest silk and polyesters. I've include some non-cotton in each color, looking to add a little shimmer to the curved strip-piecing that I'll be doing for each swath of color.

Here's the thinking behind this quilt, from a description I wrote to Mary Beth in January 2006:

The shelter quilt is a sequel to the "Loss" quilt that I started at Design Camp in 2005. That quilt was about David's and my experience of loss--of the brightness of Jeremy's life in ours and then the stark emptiness of our future without him. (Photo here.) As I worked through this expression of our experience of loss, I found myself thinking something like: Our future is unremitting blackness, but I don't want to think of Jeremy's future--his existence, of whatever possible nature it might be, after death--as this same blackness. I have no sense or understanding or ideas about life after death, nothing that I could possibly articulate in words. If someone asked me "Do you believe in life after death?" and asked for a yes or no answer, the closest answer would be "no." And yet, when David and I had to find words for the stone on Jeremy's grave, we put this epitaph (taken from the Jewish funeral service, with language from the Psalms):

May he find refuge forever
In the shelter of your wings
And may his soul be bound up
In the bond of eternal life.

I couldn't say that I "believe" in these words, but I need their comfort.

So, for the next quilt, I've been thinking of the image of "in the shelter of your wings."

When I first thought of doing this, an image came to mind--a Durer watercolor of a bird's wing.Long ago I had a postcard of this image on my office door, just because I thought it beautiful (despite the fact that it's a wing from a dead bird. . .). Looking at it again now, I think the colors Durer used might also be a guide for me. The image also suggests the feel of the open wing that I want to capture in the image of "shelter."


  1. I have just read the talk you gave on how you came to quilting and more specifically, unlocked your creative soul. It was very moving and I hope you continue to find solace and also meaning .
    bless you

  2. Hi Penny, I just happened to come by your site tonight.. I am so sorry for your loss of Jeremy. I gather that you adopted him as a baby. I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children by adoption and my eldest son died in 2003 from a bone marrow illness... it all seemed so unreal and so sad as he was the most loving 16 year old child, very intelligent with wonderful friends and as we hoped and prayed a long life before him. We still struggle with his death ... his birth mother wrote on the gravestone... "a gift given - a gift returned". We all have a strong belief in Matt's continuing life in heaven and ask him constantly for help and consolation for our grief... he is able to love us so beautifully from heaven and we know we will see him again, even though this life seems so long and painful. I think your ability to express yourself in your quilting is wonderful... we were given a small quilt of the rainbow to place over Matt's coffin as the first reading at the Mass was of God's loving covenant with his people. I still believe in the love of God and that Matt is now part of that love as we will be one day. I wish you every happiness and joy as you continue to travel the hardest path in life - having the death of a child - you are an inspiration in your quilting and may God bless you and hold you in his loving arms every day of your life. bye for now Mary

  3. Welcome to Blogland and thank you for sharing the moving story of what drives your art and quiltmaking. The Twelve by Twelve group explored the theme "Shelter" but I never thought of your evocativevmetaphor of shelter under wing.