Barry Recht: Memorial Book
February 22, 2011
For the third entry in the commission, I suggested a fabric book, which would go to the only daughter who has a child, Melissa Rubins, her husband, Dave, and their son, Max. For them a book would be better, interactive. A book would also help me solve the problem of how to make another distinct piece of artwork from the exact same pile of clothes!
I decided to make the pages individual, stand alone units with two “good” sides each. So both sides of every page tells a story and is a finished artwork. I imagined mom and dad sitting on the sofa with Max telling him stories about his grandpa and handing the pages back and forth, the cover of the book spanning all three laps, which it does when it is open. The center back is a fixed photo page.
The stand alone pages with two good sides is a challenge because they are very thick -- the equivalent of two art quilts back to back -- and I had to find a way to bind those edges so they would look professional. I was thinking serger and I have a beauty, a Babylock Evolve, but had forgotten that I had dropped it many years earlier and never had it fixed. I had been using it all along on a narrow overlock setting to finish the edges of some of my quilts and never dreamed that, with my Christmas deadline looming for the three daughter memorials, I might end up in the dog house. Still, I had a mild sense of dread. A week before Christmas, when the time finally came, the serger choked on the thickness once or twice and I fiddled with the settings and then the thing chugged along nicely, giving me an inch-thick professional edge in metallic thread that looked so good, Linda complimented me on it. Whew.
The book is full of surprises. Pockets are stuffed with family photos and a collar from one of Barry’s shirts. You can open the whole thing up and stretch it across two or three laps and hand the pages back and forth. The whole thing ties up with a string I made from one of Barry’s knitted T’s.
To give the pages a cohesive look, I painted four fabrics to blend with Barry’s shirts. One was a neutral -- white and gray, which would go well with Barry’s red OSU sweatshirt, which I used inside and on the cover, and three other fabrics, including a hand made plaid.
Linda asked me to give Barry a red sports car, something he always wanted. Terry Klausman, an artist colleague at Summit Artspace, gave me a hand with this. He tracked down the owner of red Jag and talked him out of a few snapshots, which I scanned with my computer then printed out on fabric. That alone was worth the price of admission -- it’s harder to find red sports cars than you may think when you want one to include in a book. Many images are copyrighted and the whole thing can get very complicated. Then I drew a scene to put the car in. I sewed buttons from Barry’s shirts into the treetops. And away we went in our little red hot rod.
The last quilt will be a so-called “photo” quilt for Linda. At least that is what I have told her. I have no idea what I am going to do, how many photos will be involved, what it will look like in any way, fashion or form. It is February already and I need to make enough quilts to get me through a busy summer in my new studio at Summit Artspace. I need inventory. You see the problem, don’t you? Art quilts are not like making potato chips. It takes weeks and months to make them.
Meanwhile, I await a message from Barry on what he wants me to make for Linda. It will have to be the trump card.