Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wabi -Sabi Quilt

Last week I was looking through my fabric stash and came upon an old quilt top stuffed in a bag at the back off the closet. It is tattered, stained, worn and torn. It has no special history or memories for me. I don't even remember how or where I acquired it, maybe at a thrift shop or a late night EBay purchase. My first thought was, " I should throw this thing out!”

And then I noticed that this anonymous quilt top was hand sewn. Someone spent hours   stitching bits of scrap fabrics, perhaps from her blouse, a worn-out but favorite dress, curtains that once covered a kitchen window.  Someone cut the shapes and with needle and thread joined the pieces of cloth to create Ohio Star quilt blocks and then stitch-by-stitch sewed the blocks together to make this quilt top.  A labor of love, patience, and determination that did not reach its final purpose, to be layered with batting and backing and quilted together to make a quilt that would provide warmth and security for someone. On no, I couldn't toss this quilt top into the trash without giving it a chance to  a purpose.

After a washing, I hung it on the line, sat down on the steps and watched the tattered quilt top .  As it waved and flapped in the breeze, the words wabi-sabi came to mind.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese esthetic that finds beauty in the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. “ If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of melancholy and a spiritual longing, the object could be said to wabi-sabi.” [1]

I watched the   wabi-sabi quilt dry in the wind as the words; nothing lasts, nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, went around and around in my mind. 

[1]Koren, Leonard (1994). Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. Stone Bridge Press. 


Diane McGregor said...

I love this story -- how you came upon the quilt by the anonymous artist, how you are transforming it into awareness by giving it water, fresh air, sunshine, and photographic documentation. This photo is so poignant and peaceful -- the quilt floats like a flag in the forest by the lake. I imagine the quilter is smiling in heaven :)

Kathleen Nathan said...

Thanks for your comment,Diane.