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The Appliqué Tapestries
omen have always used quilting as a form of therapy. After my dad died in 1981, I started working with cloth to keep my widowed mom, who loved to sew, busy. My oil palette had always been limited, but suddenly I had choices of textures like lace, silk, cotton and velvet. All the colors of the rainbow were spread out before me. I had a trunk full of saris I'd worn in India and Sri Lanka, and I sure wasn't going to be wearing them on the ranch! Every bit of cloth in the house was in danger. Snip, snip, went my scissors as tablecloths, curtains, and bedspreads got cut into pieces.
I'd hang a background piece of fabric over a large fiberboard and start pinning layer after layer, cutting freehand with no sketching beforehand. Then, piece by piece, I'd take everything apart and place each bit of flower, hair, face or feather onto a small scrap of fabric. My mom lived in California then, so I'd mail the pieces off to her so she could work her sewing-magic on them. She usually had no idea what the finished work would look like, but it sure kept her busy and happy. And then, several times a year, we'd get together and start putting the pieces back together again.
When my mom came to live on the ranch in Crowheart in 1995 we were able to work full-time on the tapestries. I stopped doing them when I began writing "Lifting the Sky." Now I combine fabric with my painted canvases. My mom is now 93 and still lives on the ranch in her own house.
They are not for sale anymore. Occasionally they are shown at shows. I would be happy to bring a few to library events if you have a space to hang them.