A Sense of the Quilt

On the 29th of October, I found a quilt dedicated to David Toomey at the NAMES Project Foundation on the bottom right corner of block 4378. I revisited the project building on November 6th to properly describe this quilt panel. Like most other quilt panels, it takes the shape of a rectangle and has the dimensions of 3x6m feet. This one is oriented vertically. The descriptions in this text will describe the quilt in portrait orientation where the name and lifetime is located towards the bottom of the quilt. The quilt can be broken down into two separate parts: the space containing the image, and the space containing the information on the memorialized. From my study, the fabrication of the quilt seems to have layer of complexity that many of the other quilts lacked.

The quilt is made up of at least two layers sewn together, similar to a blanket, which gives it some weight and allows it to keep its shape. The quilt and its layers are held together by a sort of diagonal stitching. Lines are formed in a mostly uniform pattern where lines are steeply sloping in opposite directions and overlap at certain points, forming a rhombus shaped-pattern on the quilt. However, there are points where the stitching loses consistency. For example, towards the bottom right corner of the blue space containing the image, the distance between the sloped lines are wider than the majority of lines, causing it to look more like a rotated square rather than a rhombus. The strings attaching the image to the quilt are not visible from the bottom of the quilt while the strings attaching the name and numbers to the quilt are visible from the bottom.

Some of the solid colored spaces are made up of multiple parts such as the sky-blue space containing the image. In the middle, towards the top of the blue, there is a small area that is different in color. It is made up of the same material, but appears to have lost some of its blueness from some cause of wear. There are seams running across width and down the length of the space. This space is surrounded by a white border that is about one inch in width throughout. Around that, is a dandelion-yellow border that is about three inches in width and used to contain the notes and writings of Mr. Toomey’s friends and family. This space is surrounded by a fern-green border that is about one inch in width also. A large part of the green border is used as a sort of foothold to connect the quilt to the block causing it to appear smaller than it really is. At the seams that are connecting these parts, the quilt becomes thicker.

The space containing the name and digits of the years lived uses the same sky-blue material. It probably takes up less than 20% of the surface of the quilt. This borderless space seems as if it is separate from the image and areas that contain it. On this blue material, lies a fence, where many of the characters rest upon though a few of them are oddly placed. Some are closer to others and are not fixed exclusively onto the fencing. The letters and numbers are made of a gold twine, and has a reflective surface, allowing it to shine in the presence of light. No other part of the quilt is made up of this material or anything similar. They used enough to make make it distinct from the rest of the quilt, but not too much that it’d distract or overwhelm the viewer.  

From a quick count, the image alone is made up of over 200 individual pieces of fabric. each cut out and sewn onto the quilt. Each number and letter has an outline where the twine is tightly packed together with many short stitches. They are filled in with the same twine, but distance between each stitch is longer, granting it a smooth and differing appearance.

In the image, there are both plants and animals. In the bottom left corner, there is what appears to be a grey-colored dog. It has a very short tail. The middle of its face including the nose is white. It has no back legs, but for the legs that it does have, the paws are white. Its mouth is bending upwards, possibly indicating that it is happy. This dogesque creature is facing the a yellow-eyed, black cat with its tail curled around its back legs. It has a white patch surrounding its neck and its front paws. It appears to be facing the viewer directly with an expression devoid of emotion. Towards the top right corner, is a yellow-beaked gull-like bird. It is resting on a pole. It has a bright-yellow eye and an orange foot. Its tail feathers extend out into the yellow border. These three animals are about the same size. They have parts made up of a fuzzy fabric: the grey fur of the dog, the yellow eyes of the cat, and the beak and eye of the large bird, while the white pieces of fabric for these animals are made of a very tough, thick material. These animals are stitched onto the quilt with thick string and this string is also used to accentuate certain certain features on the animals such as the cat’s tail. Atop the worn space of the blue, is a small purple bird flying in the direction of the gull. There are three pots containing plants. The pot farthest to the left contains two abnormally large sun-flowers. These plants are the tallest of all the plants in the picture. The center of the taller flower is orange while the center of the shorter one is almost black. The center of the flowers have patterns on them. The second pot features a tomato plant that has both orange and red tomatoes which is the shortest in the picture. In the right-most pot, there is a vine growing and wrapping around the pole that the large white bird is resting on. This plant’s bell-shaped flowers resemble that of the trumpet vine. It has a strange shade of green. The color is dull, and pale.  Both the vine and the leaves of this plant have a some sort of pattern on it. The rich, green colored leaves of the sunflowers, and tomato plant have images of various leaves inside of them them. Each plant contains a bouquet of small flowers at its base. Though they come in different colors, they are essentially the same for all three. The basic design is the same.

There are messages from Mr. Toomey’s family written throughout the yellow border. There are ten messages. Nine out of the ten messages are written with a green marker. One is written in red. Each message is from a different person. Each message has a different handwriting. The neater ones include sentences and phrases while the less legible messages might just feature their name.

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