Saturday, March 15, 2014
The theme this time for the Material Mavens quilt was "translate." Literalist that I am, I fear, my mind went immediately to literary works I've read in translation. My very favorite of these is the trilogy written by Sigrid Undset in the 1920s, for which she was awarded a Nobel Prize. The trilogy is called KRISTEN LAVRANSDATTER. The first book in the trilogy is translated in English as THE WREATH or, sometimes, THE BRIDAL WREATH. In Norwegian the title is simply KRANSEN.
My 12"x12" quilt depicts the protagonist of the trilogy, Kristen, daughter of Lavrans. I show her on her wedding day, wearing the bridal wreath, looking pensively over her shoulder. The entire first volume deals with Kristen's love affair with an unsuitable man--unsuitable in her parents' eyes, that is. They had chosen another suitor for her, but she persisted in refusing to marry this man and clung to the wild and handsome Erlend. The conflict with her parents, especially her beloved father, was exceedingly painful for both father and daughter. When she ultimately prevailed and "won" the battle, it was with extremely mixed feelings that she wore the bridal wreath. As it turns out, though she remains passionately in love with Erlend, their marriage is a rocky one and she is never able fully to forgive herself for hurting her father so grievously.
I used a photograph of a real person, a real bride, and copied it by hand onto flesh-colored fabric with colored pencils. I used the pencils for the shading of her face and for her features. The "real" bride wore a happy smile, so I had to change the smile to this more pensive expression. I changed the colors of the "real" bride's hair and eyes, too, to reflect the Norwegian bride Kristen. Her hair was constructed with many different fabrics in shades of yellow and gold. The wreath is fashioned artificial flowers and a vine with tiny leaves; these I attached to the quilt both with hand stitching and with fabric glue.
I used two batiks for the background--a green leafy one and then one depicting birch or aspen trees, both of which grow in Norway. I machine quilted the background and Kristen's hair. I fused the face on with Wonder Under and then used a tiny zig zag stitch to applique it.
I've read this beloved trilogy every decade of my life, since I was a teenager. That is how much I love these books, and it pleased me to depict a dearly-loved book in a quilt.
PS Loving these books as I do has also led me to take two different trips to Norway!