Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quilts finished and not yet started

Gerrie, bless her, asked for closer details and more information about my Jewish Memorial quilt.. So here goes....

The quilt is for my City and Guilds and ticks two categories (a) Applique and (b) a wallhanging. It is a memorial quilt to Salka Wildfeuer for whose memory I am Guardian in a scheme run by the Israeli Holocaust Museum. She died in Poland and almost all her family were murdered in Auschwitz. The quilt as it is is about 26.5 deep by 43 long. However, the sleeves are on the right side of the two short sides as the next task is to roll it on poles and mount it on a varnished board so that it will look like a Torah scroll. Hopefully that will make it look much more impressive

It has a fair amount of symbolism in it:

1. The trees are trees of life made out of Star of David shapes symbolising the continuation of the Jewish people and the foundation of the State of Israel. They are much larger than the train tracks entering Auschwitz which would have been the last journey Salka's family made. I hope the trees have a defiant nature. The tracks now run to a patch with a quilted Star of David on it. You may see this as a reminder of the yellow star patched Jews were made to wear. Indeed if you look closely you will see a tiny smudge of yellow which is why there is a patch and not just a star because something had to hide the marker that for the first time ever refused come out! Or, you may try to see something positive and view the tracks as symbolising the Journey Salka's family never did make but which others made to establish Israel.

2. However it seemed to me that such determined trees needed strong roots and to
be rooted in something. The bottom strips are based on the edgings of the traditional prayer shawls. Orthodox men wear undergarments with knotted fringes which hang out over their pant belts. These fringes are known as tzitzit and represent the 613 commandments. I have not made that many but that is what the tree roots are.
3. The tiny beads on the trees represent Salka's family - some , stemming from the woman who listed her many deceased family members at Yad Vashem, remain on the tree, others are falling to earth.
4. The gravestones are crooked just like old surviving Jewish cemeteries in Europe. The words are the Jewish mourning prayer the Kaddish photocopied from a prayerbook onto Bubble jet soaked fabric. It is the photo not the created fabric which is a touch fuzzy. Still to be added is a small brown bead on top of one of the gravestones as a traditional Jewish mark of respect is to place a pebble on the headstone. I always do that when visiting a Jewish cemetery.
The quilting is simple lines further fragmenting the crazy pieced background to represent the diaspora and the scattering of families caused by the Shoah.
By the way - I am not actually Jewish, but I do have a strong interest in the Jewish faith and people so I hope I got this all right!
The next finished piece for the City and Guilds is my quilt. I am going to do a double size, based again on Egungun masquerade costumes and the research on masks I have been doing. It is all going to be made with my collection of fabrics from The African Fabric shop. (the pre- washed ones for those who read by Quiltland blog). I am so excited about starting it I can't actually start it! I am waiting until I am not tired and have a big swathe of time and can really enjoy it. But here are the fabrics all ironed and arrayed ready to start.


Kristin L said...

Thanks for all the details. I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished piece!

Rayna said...

Oh, Helen -- this is beautiful beyond words. It is one I wish I had made.

Gerrie said...

I am in awe! I can't wait to see it finished. Those trees are incredible. You just continue to amaze me. Maybe I should take City and Guilds - no, I am to old for that.

Thanks you for providing me with more details.

Vicki W said...

Thanks for all of the details on the quilt. I don't know much about the Jewish faith so I appreciated learing about the imagery in your quilt.
Love the new fabrics too!

Shasta said...

I am so glad that someone did ask for the details, because this is such incredible symbolism. Wow, it is wonderful.

I am also impressed that you are able to move from Jewish quilt to an African one with such ease.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I, too, am not Jewish but have a deep appreciation and respect for many elements of the Jewish faith (notably their response to grief and the related traditions). Beautiful work ~ marvelous symbolism. Please share a photo once you have it mounted and hung...

Anonymous said...

What a meaningful quilt. The symbolisms are touching.