October 19, 2020

The World Turns Upside Down - Part 1


This is my newest art quilt - I didn't start out to make a topical quilt.  I was just playing with some gorgeous swatches.

I have mentioned on this blog before how much I love challenge quilts.  This challenge is another one from the Just Wanna Quilt facebook group.  I looked at these luscious colors, and decided I need some of that brightness and beauty in these hard times.  We each got 2 packets of swatches from Free Spirit Fabrics, and the instructions were “make whatever you want”. 

My plan was to make two little quilt tops exactly the same, rotate one, and cut holes in the top one for reverse appliqué to let the other colors show through.

And then, as I worked on the quilt, I realized that I was making a portrait of one of the multiple crises that we are facing right now.  I realized that I was making a statement about the big changes we need to make in this country - the issue of increasing social justice and equality in rights and opportunity, becoming more like the nation that the Declaration of Independence calls forth.

This quilt represents the two layers of our society.  The layer that has been forced to the lower level for so long is now stepping forward, popping out, and better yet, the upper level is opening up to the changes.  Since the fabrics of the two layers are in different orientations, they mix together.  This is the restructuring of our society.  We are moving towards an even distribution of the different values and colors of fabrics....and of people.

I'd made my two layers with an even ordering of light to dark, a gradation of value with mixed hues.  The top then began opening up to show what's underneath and began letting the layers mix together.  

About the title:

I was having trouble naming this quilt, and then I heard it loud and clear while watching "Hamilton" for the fifth time.  The song "Yorktown" has the refrain “the world turned upside down”.  I’ve come across these words on several history sites - for one, it’s the title of this great blog with posts about all sorts of historic recipes and crafts.  It's well worth a visit if this is your kind of thing.

Today is actually the anniversary of the end of the battle of Yorktown.  Here are two sites that tell some of that story - the PBS series "Liberty!" and the site "AmericanRevolution".

There is a drinking song called "The World Turned Upside Down", and a folk tale about the defeated British marching out of Yorktown singing it.  There is no actual evidence for what, if any, music was in the air at that moment.  But it's an old English drinking song, themed on underdogs turning over oppressors or oppressive rules.  It comes from around 1650, and is about disagreement between the public and the English government about how to celebrate Christmas - the question of whether Christmas is meant to be solemn or celebratory.  

I altered the wording of my title to be  “The World Turns Upside Down”, since our turning is still very much in progress.

To see and read about the design and construction process of this little quilt (it's only 18" square), follow along on Part 2.

To be part of the experience of how this turning the world upside down thing is going for the U.S., vote vote vote and see you in November when we'll learn how we've done.


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