Ode to Joy

Last week I rushed to complete a quilt for a show at my church. The theme is “Ode to Joy.” My inspiration was, of course, the music by Beethoven plus our garden, Melody Bells, and a book called AMARANT: THE FLORA AND FAUNA OF ATLANTIS BY A LADY BOTANIST.

I’ve always thought we are much better off finding the joy in our life rather than pursuing happiness. And one sure way for me to find joy is spending time in the beauty of nature—especially if trees are involved. So a tree became the first element in my quilt design.

Right now the garden has passed it’s spring prime of abundant poppies, ranunculus, daffodils, love-in-the-mist, and nasturtiums. Now lilies, geraniums, roses, and passion flowers bloom. Only a few butterflies flit around the pond, but little chompers on the passion vine promise an abundance later in the season. Flowers and butterflies became the second

Future butterfly, current glutton

element to show joy—sigh, such a cliche.

AMARANT: THE FLORA AND FAUNA OF ATLANTIS BY A LADY BOTANIST, written by Una Woodruff and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1981, popped into my mind. My mom gave me that book years ago, and her impulse buy at Pic ‘n Save became one of my treasures. Old-fashioned botanical style drawings of things such as “wayside plant” with pods like double peas that grow into free-flying beetles abound. Other flowers transform into ladybugs . . .  or butterflies. Maybe this quilt could inch a little farther, no longer quite so cliche.

I cannot match the artistry of the author/illustrator Una Woodruff. But she did inspire me to employ a skill I do possess. I cut out lots of fabric butterflies. (Have I mentioned I live close to Rosie’s Calico Cupboard, known to me as Fabric Heaven.) Big butterflies, tiny butterflies. Purple, blue, pink, red, even brown butterflies. Then I cut apart individual wings from some of the big butterflies and used those sections as flower petals. The undissected butterflies fill the sky as if the flowers themselves took flight. Well, I hope that’s what it looks like.

The tiny butterflies and the Melody bells, you ask how they play in the design? Well,  wired ribbon rises from the tree trunk. The tiny butterflies become notes on a musical staff. The butterflies are color-coded to match five musical chimes, taking the place of the Melody Bells inspiration. A little mallet hangs from the quilt border so an art appreciator can “read” the butterflies and play “Ode to Joy.”

My version of being part of the digital age is to make an “interactive” quilt and post it on the blog. So be one of the first to view this work. If only I could figure out how to let you play it on-line!

In the post of 10/18/12, we talked about some children’s books featuring quilts. You’ll be glad to know, we haven’t exhausted the list. One of my sisters, who’s quilting skills outshine mine in every way but weirdness, gave me THE QUILT MAKER’S GIFT, written by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken, and published in 2000 by Pfeifer-Hamilton. Wow! Beautiful story about greed, giving, and joy. Enough stunning illustrations for two or three books. On top of all that—it has a bear!

QUILTS FROM THE QUILT MAKER’S GIFT by Joanne Larsen Line and Nancy Loving Tubesing with illustrations by Gail de Marcken was published by Scholastic also in 2000. It has twenty patterns for quilts from the story. The blocks range from easy to challenging.

Any picture book about quilts should be ashamed of itself if it is not beautiful. SHOW WAY can hold its head up with beautifully justified pride. This lovely book, written by Jacquiline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott, and published in 2005 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, pieces together the history of eight generations of the women in the author’s family. The mamas “loved those babies up so. Yes, they loved those babies up.” The Show Way quilt of the title shows the way to freedom. Bet you can’t read it with dry eyes.

Oh, and my quilt? I raced to get it in on time only to find out I was a week too early. That turned out to be a good thing since there were technical difficulties. I hear some of you ask, “What kind of technical difficulties can a quilt have? Ones that aren’t actually too complicated. They have been resolved and the quilt is to be hung tomorrow.

Last year’s quilt, “As a Deer Longs for Flowing Streams,” based on a chant by John Philip Newell. Find out more about him at salvaterravision.org