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.
(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.
Les 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.
I’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