Nellie"s Needles

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Doors / Another Grief Quilt

This powerful piece "happened" at the end of the summer in 2000. My first inclination was to title it "At Death's Door". That made my husband cringe, so it's called just "Doors".

"Doors" - 35"x19"- 2000

I say that the piece "happened" because I had no intention of starting anything new at the time. There had been one paint rag among five that had been created during the summer's projects that had gotten my attention. Every time I picked it up there was one area I focused on. I knew that I'd have to do something with it sometime. Then there was one small stray book of decorator fabric that had gotten left behind that I found when looking for something else. Thumbing through it, I thought some of the solids or even plaids would be interesting to combine with that "paint rag".

Then there was my frame of mind. Three friends, my brother-in-law, and my daughter-in-law's grandmother had died within the previous months. Also, I had just completed a commissioned memorial quilt and Bill Moyer's series about the end of life and dying had just been on TV.

When I looked at the one area of the paint rag that always drew my focus, I couldn't decide where to cut it ... so I didn't. The whole piece was put on the design board. From there on, putting the composition together was like working a Ouija board. It was as if I were observing it happen. There were previously unnoticed lines on the paint rag that dictated the placement of the three whole pieces of fabric samples. Right away I saw these as doors and knew they had to do with the afterlife.

To counterbalance the doors, windows were needed. Originally, I cut seven ... thinking in terms of "7 deadly sins". It didn't take long for me to realize that only three were to be used and they were to represent the trinity.

The foreground was the area that had always drawn my attention and it required something more. Immediately, I thought of the scraps from my tunic vest (same ones used earlier in "Taken By Storm"). These would add texture and even more dimension to the piece. As I was digging through my scrap bag for these, the tulle pieces from David Walker caught my attention ... there was a circle of white and a ring of black just waiting for a place to be put. I knew the strips from my tunic needed to reflect the angle of the line that had established the placement of the doors. However, they looked so stark. The whole thing needed to be framed with something. The dark frame made the interior "light up" and it became a doorway around the piece. I angled the one side to give another visual clue to that mysteriousness of this piece ... the other clue is the unusual proportion of width to height.
The fabrics for the three doors were each woven with different colors for the warp and weft. This gave the effect of their not being solid ... they could be passed through. To accentuate this illusion, seed stitching with multiple colors of single ply floss that matched the value of each door was done.

The terrain of life that leads to death's door is not smooth. Is this door a passage? What is this next door full of colored light? Is it purgatory? Is it the place of reincarnation? Will passing through the last door make one whole and full of light? Is that the trinity casting light over all? ... the past, the present, and future?


Mente Rapada said...

excellent site, is brilliant


Finn said...

After reading the creation of The Doors, all I can is WOW! It's an absolutely spectacular piece Nellie. Very insightful and thought provoking....and I don't think I could look at it now, in 2006, without thinking about 9/11 and the uncertainly of life. And the definite edge of death.
It's a very powerful piece. And for me, as always, I'm entralled with your use of what is at hand. My hat's off to you girl!!!

Sarah said...

Your piece Through the Door is just beautiful and so moving. I also am wow'd by "Transfiguration". Just amazing. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and personal pieces.

Tom Bass said...


Your work just get's better. The Doors is a Master Piece.
I know Macatawa will generate more ideas for you this summer.

self taught artist said...

interesting nellie, i see nothing deathlike in this, in fact i find this very earthy and oceanic. elemental, the bottom of the ocean floor, the middle is full of life, getting lighter as the 'doors' which to me are building blocks or structures of dna, ascend and the sun rays at the top. i have a sense of floating up out of the sea.

Nellie's Needles said...

STA, it's interesting that you what you see in this piece is the beginning of life instead of the end of life on this planet. In both of our views, it's life ascending.

Thank you for telling me your interpretation. I'm pleased to know that the basic intent of the piece was communicated.

self taught artist said...

makes it doubly impressive in my book, to have put meaning into a piece that others can conceive of as well.