Barry Recht: Dad's Plaids
February 22, 2011
My commission was to make four works of art, one for each of the daughters and one for Linda. I noticed Barry had tons and tons of plaids and decided to make a piece specifically to show them off in large enough pieces that the girls could see them clearly and perhaps recall specific events related to each shirt. I made a drawing of a tree and pattern pieces, then pieced the plaids together one by one. There were nine of Barry’s shirts in the quilt. The tree rests on the “O” from Barry’s Ohio State sweatshirt on a ground dotted with a few button rocks and lace from Linda’s wedding dress. I quilted the piece with a symbol of everlasting life, a freehand spiral, and added only three fabrics that were not Barry’s. One was a hand dyed cheesecloth that gave the foilage around the tree a little dimension. I finished the quilt with a plaid binding and ran gold cording just inside it for a little bling.
A word about labels: I hand write my labels and sew them on with perle cotton using a blanket stitch. I always leave about a half inch of the thread tails dangling so they look intentional and people can play with them. I don’t know about you but I can’t help but touch thread and cloth. Since memorials are all about memories and creature comfort, I give them where I can.
I also use left over hand dyes or hand printed or painted cloth for my labels. That way they have personality. If you look closely you will notice the hand dyed yellow label has vertical orange lines painted through it. That was my handiwork. I stuck a coffee stir stick into orange paint and gave the cloth some additional texture long before I decided to use it as a label. It has personality and conversational value. It probably spent some time in my yellow scraps drawer before it found a new life on the back of a memorial quilt. Since memorials are all about recycling, albeit evocative recycling, this seems perfectly appropriate.
You quilters out there may take a page from my book. Use a bright perle cotton that stands out on the back of the quilt and does not match anything else and make a statement with your work. Everything you do should be saying that this quilt is an original, made by a human being and not a machine. And if you are anything like me, you will express that sentiment on the label. There may be a time not so distant in the future when people don’t (or can’t) do this kind of work anymore. God forbid.
Please click here to read about the memorial book: www.conniebloom.com/blog/barry-recht-memorial-book/53/