I still enjoy dyeing vintage cloth from time to time.
My personal stash is at a sane level now that I've gotten honest with myself about if and when I might take up the cloth again and sent much of it out into the world for other artists to use.
That being said, these three pieces came from the last dyefest.
Large. Spread your wings large. I'm thinking about mapping one of the locations in my book.
A bird's eye view of a village. A nighttime scene, the owl's eye view. Moonlight and streetlamps, a forge stoked for work. Starlight, fireflies, and campfires. A train rushing through the dark. Candlelight.
This place in particular because it's also going to be the main setting for the next book. I have to clear the design walls and hang these pieces and see what they have to say to me.
Maybe nothing, maybe everything
An excerpt from the work in progress: Prophets Tango
Anna claimed the quilt as her own toward the end of her twelfth year when it was stained in the night on her first date with the moon. Tam had prepared her mentally, but the physical evidence stunned and mortified her. She waited in her room until she was sure Murph had gone for the day before she spoke to her aunt in an embarrassed whisper.
“Throw it out?” Tam boomed. “Girl, bring that here to the sink and let me show you the miracle of cold water. That nightie too. Come, let this be the least troublesome blood in your life. See to it, Mary, Amen.” She drew a crooked cross on her own forehead with her finger, then mock spit in one hand. “Quick now, before the stain sets. I show you how.” Once washed, it took both of them to drape the heavy, wet quilt over two ropes of the clothesline, backside to the sunshine to stave off fading.
Late in the afternoon, Anna went to see if it was dry. It had been a hot, airless day and the quilt had slipped and hung like a book from its spine over one rope, the ends close to the grass. She crept between the two halves, the space created by the width of her shoulders lit up by the sunlight poking through the layers of cloth and stitch, tinting that light with a kaleidoscope of color. Arms over her head, she searched for the place - a lavender block with a broad yellow cross - that had been stained with her blood. The cross was high, just out of reach. It was unmarked. Clean.
The quilt was old, Tam said. She’d found it on the banks of the reservoir one day when she and Murph were fishing. Someone skilled in the handwork, but short on artistry in Anna’s opinion, had made it from scraps of clothing a long time ago. It had been patched front and back too many times to tell the old from the new. Blocks of different sizes ran over one another in no particular pattern or intent. There was no maker’s mark.
Anna pulled it from the line, folded it carefully and was carrying it back to her room when the mental images overtook her. She got as far as the shade of the towering maples by the back door as the quilt gave up its history in visions as varied and overlapping as the blocks it was made of. Generations of lovers, tender and fierce, had twisted and rolled in its folds, tangled over and under it. Images of sweating, straining bodies of all kinds streamed through her as she clutched the quilt tight against her sore breasts.
She knew about sex, in theory, all farm kids did, but this was a revelation of flesh. As quickly as the panorama of lust made its impact on her, the visions shifted to the tenderness of babies and children, swaddled and cuddled in its folds as they dreamed and peed their way through their nights. Another shift. An old woman lay dying. She pulled the corner of the quilt over her face, giggled like a girl and gazed up through the colors at her last light. A young man, insensate, the blood from a wound to his head trickled through his blond hair to be soaked up by the quilt. Another shift and the cycle began again. More lovers, more paroxysms of passion, weeping, and laughter. The giggling of children receded into soft comforting darkness.
Tam found her curled over the folded quilt, face down in the grass. Anna woke to a cloth cooling on her forehead, her aunt sitting on the bed beside her. Tam patted her hand and said, “I didn’t take you for one to get the lady vapors, Annabea. Shame on me. You okay now?”
Anna blinked up that the slanted ceiling and said, “Where’s my quilt?”
“Right down there by your feet. Too hot for covers in here. You were all asweat when I bout tripped over you out there. What happened?”
She looked at her aunt, saw the worry lines on her face, and said, “Damned if I know.”
c. Deborah Lacativa 2018