I was thinking today about some of the most amazing show quilts I have seen lately: how dense, how beautiful, how awe inspiring, and how perfectly… flat.
I know flatness is a key component for judging, and shows a finesse, a degree of technical skill that makes it look 2D, like a painting, rather than the dimensional object it is. And it struck me today that, no, really, I like my quilts puckered with washing, piled on the couch in lumps as they get thrown to the side, or covering lumps on the couch as the kids get under them to read and snuggle. The living nature of fabric and thread is what gets me, every time, and while I admire and oooo and aaahhh over the etherial show quilts… It’s the ones that get used that are, to me, the unsung heroes and heroines. And I’d rather have one of those.
Tangentially, it reminded me of this article on the cleaning of the Unicorn tapestries in the Cloisters Museum, a division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. About ten years ago, now, these tapestries needed to be cleaned and restored, and the undertaking was both awesome in scope and in what people learned about Medieval tapestry making. This article, published in The New Yorker, really impressed upon me how fabric and woven things are alive, and moving all the time (see how that connects to the first idea? kinda? sorta?). I hope you enjoy it, and maybe, if you’re in the City sometime, you’ll add the Cloisters to your list of places to see. It is a truly unique experience, especially if you love Medieval art and illustrated books. Not to mention, theses tapestries are some of the finest in the world.