In 2006 I created a series of postcard size (4×6 inch) multi-media quilts incorporating playing cards. Each week I randomly chose a card, used it to make a quilted postcard, and sent it through the mail. I planned the project as a chance to explore surface design and quilting techniques but found it became much more: a yearlong journal in design and words.
The postcard series was shown again in the Easelstan: 5 @ 10 show, a show at the Phinney Center Gallery celebrating the tenth anniversary of my studio. See below the image gallery for more information about the postcard series.
The playing cards I used for this project were a rich inspiration for the design, colors, and themes of the postcard quilts. Many of the cards were from a deck that I had for over 20 years. I found other cards on the streets in my neighborhood. I found the Queen of Hearts, in December 2005, lying on the sidewalk in front of my house while I was still contemplating starting this series. I took it as a sign and used it in the first postcard I made. Other cards were gifts from friends; a “girly” card found tucked away in a basement, or several incomplete decks collected from a friend’s parents’ home after they had passed on.
The small format and large number of postcard quilts gave me a chance as a fiber artist to explore many different techniques. Although some of the fabrics are commercial, I created most of them myself using surface design techniques including dyeing, discharge, painting, silkscreen, printing, and photo transfer. I manipulated the fabric through layering, piecing, appliqué, hand embroidery, machine stitching, and distressing.
The postcard quilts create a visual and written journal. On the back of each card I noted the fortune-telling meaning of the playing card, the weather, and what was happening in my life. It was a full year during which I directed a large-scale community pageant, our family lived through a big remodel, we traveled, and went through all the highs and lows of family life. Noted in short messages and date-stamped by the post office, the journal conveys in shorthand the struggles and achievements of the year.
Throughout the project, I worked only on the card at hand, often scrambling to get it done before Saturday. Each week I explored techniques and composition, and pushed myself to try new things. There are some I’m really pleased with, and those that I’m not. Once the project was finished I put them all up together for the first time. Although they are individual elements created over a year’s time, I see them as a whole, each postcard adding its notes to the rhythms of color and texture that appear when they are viewed together, a journal in words and images of my life.