Sunday, March 18

A long, long cloth

It's not too much to look at yet. Maybe only I can see its beauty right now... but I have begun stitching the collaborative wrapping cloth I'm making for the Philadelphia Cathedral in honor of All Saint's Day in the Fall. I've asked congregation members to bring me pieces of cloth that are meaningful or that have a story- perhaps they belong to a lost loved one, or a grown-up child, or a remnant of something worn and cherished, or a linen passed down through the family. So far I've received a white cotton sari, the arms and plackets cut off some linen shirts, a bit of patterned juvenile sheets, a scrap leftover from a child's brightly-colored shirt, and some other things.
 The 20-foot long cotton sari has been cut down into six 6 inch wide (by 20 feet long) pieces, giving me 120 feet of running background cloth to fill. As I tore it, I found a black hair woven into the fabric, which I'm pointing out in the photo below:
I've started off the first band in blacks and grays- very somber and stark. There are pieces of black shirt linen, dark gray tie silk (leftover from my tie portrait commission), light gray linen cross-stitched tablecloth, and some black and red 4-patch squares from my gran's stash. I'm just doing a raw-edge applique with running stitch striping over the 6-inch width to get the patches down. With 120 feet to fill I'll be doing this for a while. So far, 9 feet are appliqued, making one band of the 6 nearly halfway filled. Once the background cloth has been totally filled I'd like to go back to add text- a prayer for grieving whether over death or loss, and names perhaps. It will get a bound edge eventually.
When complete, this piece will be used to enfold the prayerful during the Prayers of the People for All Saint's Day, in honor of those who have passed out of our lives. It will start off with the stark blacks and grays, move through neutrals, then pastels, and finally into bright, vibrant colors to represent the grieving process.

I feel very honored to do this project, to be entrusted with the stories people attach to cloth, and to create something that will have a ceremonial function, not merely an aesthetic one.

No comments:

Post a Comment