When I started doing patchwork, most of my work, since the beginning, took the shape of wall quilts.
I completed also a king size bed quilt, some baby quilts, table runners as wedding gifts; but hanging wall quilts have always been my preference.
A wall quilt deserves a title, doesn’t it?
My quilts are abstract, but it’s easy to see emerging shapes within an abstract pattern. So, my titles often reflect what I can see as popping out, usually during or after the composition: not an initial intention, but the surprise brought by improv.
I realized soon that each viewer does notice a different pattern of his own within a given abstract image; sometimes this vision remained parent to my title, other times it was very different, thus showing the opening of possibilities. Due to this, I occasionally quilt (in the form of sewn handwritten text) all the words that the viewers told me, derived from their mental images: their suggestions came while the work was still in progress, which was a lively experience I was honored of. For the finished quilt, the title could still be a single word, but the multiple options remained embedded in thread on the work.
In other occasions, I went more extreme.
Looking at my older quilts reminded me of all that was happening in the period when I was piecing it. I experienced this also with drawing, including some drawings done when I was a child, and with my photographs: they often kept inside years-old memories, even if not at all related with the picture subject. Thus, I started to fix, in a quilt title, a favorite moment coming from the period when that work was in progress. Quilt scope is free!
Some of those titles are very personal hints. They may hold small instants of magic. Such as: “Paper puppet”. This name refers to a fleeting moment spent with my kind on the balcony, when we played with home-made paper figures, pending from a thin rope held in our hands, figures who seemed to dance while moved by the air… to jump and run on the mild wind… “Paper puppet” became the title of a patchwork, which contained many floating squares: some resemblance with the title still exists, while our playful memory becomes unforgettable, sticking to the name of the quilt.
Titles like these are less representative of the image visible on the quilt: they are more an expression of the feelings experienced while sewing that piece. Still, in one of my last quilts that has name selected as a story memory, I noticed that the consequences of this approach can be funny.
In the days when I was sewing the quilt for the Orange Summer Challenge, I spent a weekend on the mountain: my first holiday in open air, after months passed strictly at home. I met friends, and we took a long walk in the wood; at a certain point, it started to be late, and the only way to get back in short was to pass through a river barefoot, in a point where the water was not too deep. No bridge available nearby. I opened the way, testing if it was possible to pass. The water was icy… it hurt the feet. We were nine: parents, kids, persons aged from 10 months old (a child who stayed dry, clinging on the back of her mother) to seventy years old (a brave grandmother who passed the river with fluent and bold stride!) Since at the beginning we felt unsure, it was a great emotion when all of us succeeded! We reached a restaurant just in time before the rain started to pour!
When I was back home, I titled my quilt, which contained nine rounded log cabins (exactly as the nine faces of us, who looked at each other happily after the river crossing experience), “Ford”. This wonderful memory deserved to be fixed there.
Some days later, my quilting friends Giovanna, while looking at the finished mini quilt and hearing of its title “Ford”, asked me: “Where is the river?”. And I had to admit: “There is no river”. The abstract quilt image was weakly connected with the symbol of the nine of us who passed that ford, but I had not depicted any river, and even the colors had nothing to do with water… the quilt surface was extensively covered by warm orange solids. Giovanna insisted: “I meant, where is the river you visited, geographically?”. This, I was more than happy to tell: I love being familiar with all the river names in my region, so I could explain everything about its flow line. And I allowed myself: maybe my title was not so odd.
How many different ways to choose a title may exist?