Barry Recht: 40 year old silk neckties
February 22, 2011
The first step is arbitrary. Choose a place to begin.
I was drawn to Barry’s gorgeous silk neckties which were now probably close to 40 years old. When I opened them up and tugged at the stitches that kept the folds in place, I noticed the fabric lining had seriously degraded. That’s OK. What I wanted was the fragile silk itself. It was old and flimsy but I was able to bond it to another stabilizing fabric that will give it yet another life provided it is handled with care. That means no piecing, for bending it and sewing it into seams would be the same as scoring it with a knife.
I freehand cut and appliqued waves of necktie color into a sort of log cabin design, alternating with sweeps of an apricot hand dye I made especially for the project. The resulting art quilt was made with his old ties, labels from his clothes, lace from her wedding dress, a special memento (the butterfly) in the center, buttons and Barry’s association pins.
It’s hard to get eye-popping color in a memorial piece because manufacturers play it safe with clothes. So I added a hot pink cording around the edges of the shape to pick up a hot pink color that was splashed on one of Barry’s brighter ties. I also strung buttons from some of his shirts like a necklace and sewed it to a corner of the quilt so it would dangle. That way family members had something loose they could touch when they look at the quilt and think of Barry. The completed design is all about color and motion -- and memories. Linda said she remembered his wearing those ties, tears streaming down her cheeks.
I mentioned earlier that I wait for the spirit of the deceased to let me know what to do next. I am not a Sylvia Browne type of person. As a reporter I did several stories on ghost hunters and couldn’t connect. But there’s more to life that what meets the eye: When I designed the log cabin shape, which is not square, I left a space in the middle for a memento from a bunch of things Linda gave me in a small box. I knew that I would use something from the box but didn’t size the space in the quilt to any one of them. I went on faith that something would fit, but didn’t expect the perfection I got. The plastic butterfly that Linda liked best of all fit perfectly. My husband always says even a blind squirrel gets a nut now and then, but I think this was a force much bigger
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