Cancer combs

I have been working a one quilt for a while. I doubt that I will ever hang it since it is too emotional for me to have around, even though I think it is quite beautiful.

Cancer is such a scary invasive monster- mostly scary since you never really know what is happening inside of you. It grows silently, and even when things seem fine on the surface, it is lurking. And it is impossible to track all of the time, so the periods in between PET scans and MRIs are a mix of hope and fear. Hope that everything is going well, and fear, because you know that even if things on the surface look good, it is not proof positive that things are good.

My father is a trooper. Between tests he continues to play tennis, fix sinks, play the piano and be grouchy. The women around him, my mom, my sister and I are the worriers. We worry between tests even though everything looks fine. We reassure each other constantly that the surface seems fine, and privately we  wonder what is really happening. And the tests- seem so superficial. A one day slice of a process that is ongoing and unstopping.

This quilt is about the unseen part- it is about how cancer metastisizes, how it invisibly spreads in the most incisidious ways- one nodule at a time.

Probably no one will really understand all the depth of this piece. But if you look really closely at the stitching, each hand stitch is very deliberately placed- each small pink stitch is representing a cancer cell- spreading silently.

The fabric I picked for this is a potato detrin piece by Annete that just screamed cancer to me the first time I saw it. It took at full year for me to be able to cut into the piece. It is surrounded by her rusted fabric. The overall composition is a  comb- which has really become to symbolize my father- and is much more abstract than my previous combs. Partly  had a really hard time cutting up Annette's piece- it seemed to perfect just as it is.


In the graphic design world I have often wondered how designers working with illustrators or photographers figure out where their input starts and stops. When a really great piece that uses amazing illustration or photography wins an award is it due to the designer or the photographer? Where does the genius of one start and stop? And where does the other begin? I still have this question working on my own pieces- since I feel that Annette's fabrics are at least a large part of the equation. but maybe the answer- in both graphic design and quilting lies in knowing what to do with a great photo, a great illustration or a great piece of fabric. Maybe the gift lies in knowing how much not to crop, or mess with something good.
by JudyK