Posts Tagged ‘Mennonite artisan’

Mom and Dad Quilts

April 10, 2010

My mother passed away four years ago at the age of 91.  My Dad left us almost a year ago after having lived 94 years.  They were terrific parents, individually and as a unit.  Above all, they had a great regard for humor and we had such good laughs together.

In my mother’s last years, she loved wearing polyester blouses, vibrantly colored and patterned.  In particular, I will never forget those animal prints!  After she died, I took those shirts and sent them off to the most amazing quilter.  Mrs. B, a Mennonite woman around 65, lives outside of Reading, Pennsylvania and is a master at her skill.  Her sense of design is phenomenal, as is her eye for color and pattern. Many of her quilts feature quite modern patterns, of her own creation, and fabrics.  Her handiwork cannot be described as anything less than pure art.

Furthermore, Mrs. B has an aura of confidence, talent and capability surrounding her.  I have never, ever called her by her first name, which is a gem, but always by Mrs. B———.  Her artistic ability and business acumen deserved nothing less than my utmost respect.

My sister and I came upon her home/shop over ten years ago totally by chance as we were exploring the area around the Amish country.  We flipped at all the quilts she had rolled up on the shelves and laid out over the floor.  Since that time, Mrs. B has sold me many a beautiful quilt at prices that are probably one sixth that of the prices she charges where she shows her wares, at many of the most well-known quilt shops in Lancaster County, such as Miller’s.

When my mom died, I gathered up all of her beloved, but wild, blouses —- all 80 of them!  I shipped them off to Mrs. B with instructions to make two throw quilts and two pillows out of the fabric.  I trusted her artistry so completely that I left the choice of design and pattern totally in her hands.  Best move I ever made in my life.  Here is the product of Mrs. B’s creative work.  Please note that it was no picnic working with the slippery polyester fabric.  But she brought it off magnificently:

Mom's shirts.

How Mrs. B took so many shirts that were loud, wild and often, downright ugly, and wove them into this magnificent quilt, now a beloved treasure, is beyond me.  This quilt so perfectly represents my mom: just like this quilt, my mom had flaming individual components dominated by an overall cohesion.  Then, Mrs. B embroidered on one corner:

Glimpses of Mom.

I adore this quilt and every day it reminds me of so many things I learned from my mother and the varied, often funny experiences we shared.  As multi-faceted as this quilt is, so was my mom.

Flash forward three years.  Who would have ever thought that my dad would outlive my mom by three years?  Always expect the unexpected.  My dad favored quiet, cotton plaid shirts, especially blues and greens.  After he passed away, I gathered up all of his shirts and sent them to Mrs. B with the same “do your magic”, totally open-ended instructions as I had offered with my mother’s blouses.  Just the other day, nine months after my dad passed, I received the quilt.

I was astonished once again.  This pattern is called the “pineapple pattern” and I had never seen this before.  To open up this quilt and see all of my father’s shirts pieced together so beautifully just took my breath away.  Have a look:

Dad's shirts.

Additionally, on the bottom edge, Mrs. B embroidered the following:

Glances of Dad.

As often as my dad was a quiet person, he was just as frequently the “life of the party”.  So many funny things came out of his mouth.  But he had a subdued inner self, and the muted tones of the fabrics in his quilt coupled with the more daring pineapple pattern serve to show both sides of the man.  Mrs. B nailed it again.

For those of you who knew my folks, here are photos with captions of some of my favorite sayings that came out of their mouths.  I had a bit of fun substituting pictures of each of their quilts for their actual selves.  No irreverence intended; just a playful way of remembering the good times.

Married almost 70 years!
Uh-oh. They are fighting.

Put a little fire under it!

What's for dessoit?

We have to leave now for the early bird special!

All in all, I had very special, funny parents.  I offer my gratitude and thanks to Mrs. B for capturing their essence, complexity and humor in her incredible quilts.  Treasures to hold on to —- my parents, Mrs. B and the quilts.