Inspiration Song & Lyrics
Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child
See heaven’s got a plan for you
Uncomfortable in My Own Skin: Reclamation Project V – Rainbow
Simple pleasure changed
Childhood delight in rainbows
Morphed: Red is not bad.
This quilt started out as a project filler. Looking to fill some time waiting on a thread order to finish a quilt on a tight deadline, I dove into my scrap bins and started playing (I had to do something other than hit refresh on the tracking number for 3 days!). I decided to sort the scraps in rainbow color order and then had fun improvisationally piecing blocks. I worked on it here and there and enjoyed the creative process.
I loved the improv piecing process for the center of the quilt, but it did not feel complete. I thought a lot about how to best frame the quilt, and when I made the first sample block for a border, the quilt took on a whole new meaning for me. The border made this quilt turn into a jagged stress plot; a reminder of my prior work as a structural analyst.
I have always loved rainbows. I delight in seeing them in nature, whether in the sky from rain or cast on the wall from cut glass. I have always wanted to surround myself with rainbows. I got to make some decisions about my room decor when I was around 5 years old: I wanted blue walls (I still have blue walls in my bedroom) and I wanted a rainbow wallpaper border. At tough times in my life, I have seen rainbows and been reminded that there is a larger arc going on in my life. While I might not like or be happy about current circumstances, those moments have reminded me that the sun will shine into the dark places and illuminate beauty.
Engineering is a broad and diverse field. One of the reasons I knew I had found my calling and niche as a structural analyst was that the tools I used to perform my job created “rainbow plots“. Over the years, the joy of my job slowly began to be morph. Red was used to indicate areas that did not meet structural margin requirements; hence the saying, “red is bad”. The term “rainbow plot” was used in a derogatory fashion to indicate lack of skill, intuition, or good engineering judgment. I began to modify the way I presented my work; I removed all purples and magentas from my plots (if it isn’t a rainbow color distribution, can they call it a rainbow plot?).
Along the way, I lost delight in the beauty of a rainbow. I forgot that the beauty of my work was that I was a light shining into the darkness and working to make things better. Looking for a beacon of hope and encouragement from everyone else, I forgot my own strength.
But this quilt found me and reminded me of the beauty I had pushed aside. By adding the border, it might not be the most modern quilt, but (for me) it is one of the most powerful decisions I have made as an artist and quilter. The power this quilt has in reminding me of the sheer joy of seeing a rainbow is liberating.
Red is not bad.
Blue is not overweight.
Rainbows are just right.
I am a lighthouse.
I quilted the rainbow colored areas of the quilt using 50wt Aurifil 3817, a beautiful rainbow colored variegated thread using a very dense straight line stitch. I love the depth it gives to the colors of the quilt up close, and the texture the quilting gives from a distance.
I chose to leave the think black borders unquilted as a reminder that darkness is not as impenetrable as it can sometimes feel.
The backing for the quilt is another fantastic yardsale find from my mother-in-law. As the quilt came from my stash (and mostly my scrap bin), the yardsale fabric felt like just the right pairing.
Due to the pattern of the backing fabric, the quilting does not show up as distinctly until you get close to the back of the quilt, but the quilted versus unquilted areas do look slightly different from far away.
I am feeling renewed and reminded of the beauty of childhood freedoms due to lack of adult responsibilities, rules, and constraints. I hope to explore those thoughts and freedoms in more quilting work in the future.