trust time and edges

'Middle Passage I'

‘Middle Passage I’

This quilt has hung, unfinished, on a living room wall for a couple of seasons. I am finishing it now.
IMG_3782How often do I look at a thing undone and feel an unspoken but clear sense of failure?  (like those dolls on the mantle — when?!)

What if I walked around assured that each thing was being finished in its proper time?

The standard 1/4″ black binding with mitred corners was the first idea. But it was too much. Not right at all.  And, I didn’t want to use the machine.

IMG_0591I  pawed through my bins and found an old cotton apron. Very old. Very soft. Not quite Emancipation Proclamation period (1863), but a lot closer than most fabrics I own.
IMG_0586It was a little heartbreaking to tear through some hand darning.  But I did. As I ripped one, two, three, four, five strips, destroying the apron, hearing that destructive sound, I thought about the tearing action of the slave trade. Entire cultures being ripped apart — not just families.  Africans ripped from their homes, their continent, stripped of language, bearings, family, culture, dignity — and finally, their status as human beings.  Rip. Rip.
IMG_0605I am using a beautiful antique silk thread and starting on the top.  A simple running stitch. You can see the edge and the fabrics below. I like that.
IMG_0601You can’t tell from these photos, but the apron at some point in its life shared a wash with a red garment. The garment bled all over it.  That felt right, too.

This is the first of the Middle Passage quilts and will have a certain cheer and unity to the design.  It is meant as a ‘semi-before’ picture.  Terrible things have happened or are about to happen — traders kidnapping men, women and children,  chaining them in coffles and marching them to the sea.  Barracoons along the western coast of Africa warehousing human flesh.

But, it will get worse.

The next quilt will be darker and more fragmented.  African patterning less recognizable.  That will be THIS side of the ocean.


13 thoughts on “trust time and edges

  1. Patricia

    your treatment of the edge, i think, is perfect. and the ripping/tearing/anguishing behind all this…i wish i could say “i can just imagine.” but truly, i can’t even come close to imagining. just finished “the kitchen house”–amazed at how these slavery-related books seem to jump off the shelves.

    1. deemallon

      It IS impossible to imagine and yet, increasingly, I think it’s important to try. Or at least for me it is.

  2. maggros

    A living intensity of empathy is in this newly bound old cloth. Stories yet to unfold and surely some dark. I love “the needle follows where the shines”, Mo Crow.

  3. Jenny M

    As a wife & mum, to think of my loved ones being kidnapped, separated from each other and sent to unknown lands so far away, is just heartbreaking. To know that this has happened to so many, many, many families is horrific and my mind fails to comprehend how another human being can do this to a fellow human being.
    So interested to see your future quilts in the Middle Passage series, and to read your thoughts.

  4. Nancy

    Everything about this feels so right and your telling of it leaves me quiet. I am reminded of many peoples who have been ripped from their homes, families ripped apart…and so on. I like the bled on white very much…because it is sheer it does not close the book on this chapter. I think these chapters should be looked upon from time to time, lest we make the same mistakes again. We should not forget. I picture these light edges expanding, taking in more, staying open to understanding and to hope. Funny how these wonderful choices fall into place, yes? Can’t wait to see more.


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