Monday, July 10, 2023

Someone else's trash becomes my treasure

Last year my good friend moved to Atlanta, and realized that she owned a whole lot of stuff that she didn't want to take with her.  So she held an open house of sorts, in which friends were encouraged to take home anything in two big upstairs rooms.  I of course could not resist, and found all sorts of treasures, including but hardly limited to a guillotine blade paper cutter and a 1950 edition of Webster's New International Dictionary.  I've been using the paper cutter for myriad projects, and cutting up the dictionary for art.

But today I want to talk about a special find: a huge box full of the ribbons and medals that my friend's daughter won in a long and successful swimming career, spanning many years from childhood through high school.  The minute I saw them I knew they were perfect fodder to be turned into "postage stamps" for a grid quilt.

The ribbons were two inches wide, with woven selvages, already a bit stiff with some kind of sizing, but I backed them with nonwoven polypropylene for a little more substance.  As soon as the backing was sewed to the ribbons, I sliced them into squares with a pinked-edge rotary blade, and then continued with many more rows of stitching in different colors.  There was no fraying or raveling (a big improvement over previous postage stamp projects) and the gold letters and pictures sparkle when the light hits them right.  

I watched a great deal of trash TV last August while mindlessly feeding hundreds and hundreds of squares through the sewing machine, and eventually counted and bagged all the finished squares and stashed them away in a big shoebox.

I pulled the shoebox out again in April and started sewing the squares together into a grid.  Having learned from experience that the larger the quilt, the more tedious it is to sew it together, I decided to make three separate panels and hang them as a tryptych.  It was so easy to put these smaller panels together that I zipped through the final assembly stage in less than a week.

And now the finished quilt -- "Competition" -- is hanging in the 20th Anniversary Show at PYRO Gallery.  I think it looks great, and it was probably the most painless major piece that I have ever made!