Maybe I’m a perfectionist, but I like to make the back of my quilts as lovely as the front, so that when a person turns it over they can continue to enjoy the experience. Some quilters use cheap or ‘ugly’ fabric on the back side. Well for a start, I don’t purchase any fabric that I don’t love and I try to put as much care into the back and underneath parts of my artwork as I do onto the sides that are on display.
I never met my maternal grandfather George Neil Martin. He was a printer and had an office next to his home. Apparently, my mother was the only one of his four daughters that he would let set type, as she was fast and accurate. Maybe that’s where my love of words comes from. I’ve been experimenting for the past few years with ways to put text onto fabric and into my artwork and have had a lot of fun and new discoveries with Cleaved.
For our wedding quilt, I first thought about using white silk on the back. But the fabric shop was closed over Easter weekend so I surface designed the backing fabric. I had a big piece of Kona cotton fabric that I began by sponging with grey acrylic paint mixed with fabric painting medium. I screen printed it next with pewter grey paint and screens I’d had made from of some of our handwritten love letters, the very first one that Steve sent with his red rose to me and my handwritten reply. The fabric was still very dark, so I used another important symbol for us – a feather, screenprinted in silver.
Finally, I stamped it all over with a hand carved wooden block stamp. I love using this stamp; the design is delicate and beautiful and I love the way it fits into my hand.
I didn’t have quite enough of the cotton for the entire back so I screened some white silk with some screens I’d had made from two of our emails. One was from me to Steve in which I wrote about what it was like for me to receive his rose and letter. I had also attached and emailed the photo of Cleaved that I took using the rose petals. The other email was Steve’s written back to me after he opened up Cleaved on his computer up in Birmingham.
When I pieced the quilt back, I made the two strips of silk with our respective emails intersect at Cleaved which I had printed onto a piece of silk.
Finally, I needed to make a label for the quilt. I did this in the manner of a formal, engraved wedding announcement written in copperplate. Copperplate script was prevalent in the 19th century, but was used as early as in the 16th century in Europe. As a result, the term “copperplate” is mostly used to refer to any old-fashioned, tidy handwriting. More accurately, copperplate refers to the use of inscribed sheets of copper in printing. The engraved or etched sheets of copper are inked and then have paper rolled over them to produce a copy.
I downloaded a font I liked from dafont.com, designed my label and printed it onto Lutrador so that I could continue the layered, transluscent look of the quilt back.
I also printed the definition of cleave onto Lutrador to include on the back of the quilt.
Cleave (klēv), v.
- to part or split, esp. along a natural line of division, and
- to adhere closely; stick; remain faithful: ‘I am cleaved unto you’.
[Cleave ‘to split’ comes from Old High German klieban, and became Old English clefoan. Cleave ‘to adhere’ comes from OHG kleben and became OE cleofian]
The two tables in my studio were just big enough to use for a surface to pin my quilt layers together.