Les Jeux Sont Faits, again

I’m working on a large quilted art piece, Les Jeux Sont Faits,  that’s been hanging around (sometimes literally, sometimes just in my mind) since 2003.  I know that it’s that old because some other pieces with the same character were finished in 2003, but this one refused to jell.

The character is Mrs. Willard, grande dame of the Willard family, who appeared Waltzing with the Wisteria and Waiting. Mrs. W. has one daughter, Ms. Willard, who with her six arms Manages. Ms. Willard’s clothing is tattered and transparent, and she is mostly trying to get everything done that needs doing when you are in mid-life. And there’s the grandchild, Willy, who is 12 (or was, in 2003) and who Yearns, but knows not what for.  Ms. Willard Manages and Mrs. Willard Waits are now being exhibited with the Kansas Art Quilters current exhibit, My World.

In this unjelled, unfinished piece, Mrs. Willard, sitting in cemetery on a tombstone, is playing cards with a skeleton, Mr. Bones. He has just thrown down a formidable hand and is feeling triumphant. Mrs. W., however, doesn’t look downcast; she may have cards that are better.

lesJeuxDetailFacedraft(Those seem to be my fingers in the photo).

The title of the piece, Les Jeux Sont Faits,  is the call that French croupiers in casinos make when the betting is closed; the chips are down,the game is up, the dice are thrown, it’s a done deal. The bets are in. [This is also the title of a novel by Jean-Paul Sartre; the Wikipedia analysis says, about the moral of the story, “All that keeps us from leading useless, fleeting lives is our power and freedom to interact with the surrounding world according to our own choices.”].

There’s a lot that’s good in this piece, although it’s the one that threw me into painting rather than quilting (showing this to people brought on lots of advice to stop trying to be a quilting artist and learn how to paint). But five years later, I’m back to stitching it. I will be painting it further, too.

LesJeuxFixedYahooLes Jeux Sont Faits,  about 80 x 65″, wholecloth painted cotton, machine stitched 2003; 2009.

Right now, the piece is too complex to be comprehended or visually comfortable. Everything but the main figures need toned down, pushed back, dulled. Once I’ve stitched everything down that needs pushed back, I’m going to tackle the painting part again. After all, in the last five years, I may have learned enough to do what needs to be done. Or at least to stop it from hanging around in my mind. I have  one more in the Willard Women series started, and perhaps this will be my re-entry into the world of quilted paintings.

However, I have done so little quilting in the last five years that I wasn’t sure I knew how. I seem not to have forgotten the technique,  although the thread keeps breaking. Anne Prahl thinks the machine, or the thread, is sulking because it’s been neglected. I suspect the thread has rotted or the machine needs servicing.  Anyway, I’ve started pushing everything back by doing tight stipple stitching on those blasted light beams.

Here’s a close look at a bit around Mr. Bones’ neck that I’ve stippled around.

lesJeuxDetailDraft2I’ve put a couple more photos in continuation of this post. Finding good quotes to put on the tombstone occupied some fun time — they range from the sentimental “Beloved” to the silly “Gone; Forgotten.” I don’t think tombstone engravers put semi-colons in the stone, though. –June






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2 Responses to Les Jeux Sont Faits, again

  1. june says:

    I’ve been hiding these in my storage area, although I may be ready to bring them out — or even do more. Just this weekend a friend made a suggestion that might save Les Jeux sont faits — it’s risky, but since the piece isn’t being salvaged by tweaking it, radical treatment might do the trick. Worth trying anyway. Stay tuned…..

    I think if I go back to textiles it will be totally whole cloth painting. But I’m not thrilled with seeing my landscape painting quilted — I’ve done that with such limited success that I probably won’t try much more. But this kind of painting and then stitching might be worth further work. Moreover, the layering of sheers makes another interesting texture that you can’t get in paint.

    I’ve always liked the six-armed daughter. Did you notice that one of her hands is being held — and that the kid is holding the hand of some unseen person….? I liked that tiny twist.


  2. Sheila says:

    I have ideas for quilts I haven’t started yet because I knew I didn’t have the know-how yet for executing the ideas. But like you, what I’ve done and learned and experimented with in the meantime I think have brought me closer, if not right to the ability to make them. These pieces somehow don’t look anything like “you” or what I think I’ve come to know of your style or themes, past or present. Where have you been hiding these??? 😉 I rather like the 6 armed daughter…


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