There’s always something special to me about making a memorial quilt in honor of another artist. So when Allene asked me to create two quilts and two pillows in memory of her late husband, Tony – an author, a professor of writing, and a jazz guitar player – I was naturally intrigued. In addition to his love of writing, teaching, and playing music, Tony also loved being in and around the ocean. With that information in mind, I began creating two custom designs that would reflect Tony’s life passions.
Allene sent me two boxes of Tony’s clothes – the “blue box” and the “brown box” – although truth be told, the “brown box” only contained one officially brown garment, the rest were a mixture of tans, greens, reds, oranges, and yellows.
I began designing the blue quilt first – blue to represent Tony’s love of the water – and I kept thinking about what the library of both an author and a professor of writing might look like. An image of uneven stacks of books came to mind which I then translated into quilt-form.
The blue garment group contained a helpful gradation from light to dark with which I was able to delineate one “book stack” from the next.
The lightest stack essentially became the spine of the quilt.
When I went to photograph in-process details, I loved all of the smaller compositions I could extract from the larger design.
As is often the case when there are enough larger garment sections remaining after the quilt front is finished, I like to piece together the back.
Here is the finished quilt, which I entitled, Tony’s Library.
And two details:
The second quilt, to be made from the garments from the “brown box”, contained a more complex color story.
Thematically, I was interested in figuring out how to visually express Tony’s connection to jazz music. I have made a few past quilts that honored musicians, and each time it was important to me to create a sense of repetition, tempo, and phrasing. Tony also had many big projects going on simultaneously, which led me to the image of chevrons – repeating arrows pointing in different directions.
Each chevron section had a different grouping of repeating fabrics, which could represent different phrases in music as well as Tony’s different creative projects.
Here is the final quilt.
Here are the two pillows, both made with garments from the “brown box”.
I want to thank Allene for having the courage to send her beloved Tony’s garments all the way across the country. It was a true pleasure to make these remembrance pieces.