Preserving the Past in Cloth

Susan Lenz workI just spent two wonderful, inspiration-filled days with Susan Lenz and new quilting friends in the Wiregrass Quilt Guild.

Susan’s work touched me the minute I saw her on The Quilt Show in November, 2015.  I found her website, read more and more about her work, and saw that her Last Words show was then on display at the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum in Carrollton.  Jim and I drove to see it and I was even more enthralled.

A few months later, I visited another iteration of this display at the GA Agriculture Museum in Tifton.  Then I had a chance to talk with Susan in the midst of her work.  We were surrounded by vintage textiles exhibiting rubbings from gravestones, simple stitches, and button embellishments.  There were ethereal chiffon panels with stitched epitaphs that she had collected from visits to cemeteries.  There was a canopy like one would expect to see over a massive bed comprised entirely of vintage doilies and lace.

And, now, for the past two days, I’ve dug into her bins of vintage textiles, lace, buttons, beads, and threads making my own composition using her techniques.  My new friends and I have wandered through a cemetery with silk and crayons and found meaningful words to include in our textile stories.  We have played with Susan’s embellishing machine, sewn on her battered but still humming Bernina, and shared stories of quiltmaking and costume sewing.

Included throughout the two days were pauses to write and reflect about our experiences.  We discussed the psychology of beginning and finishing projects; multi-tasking, and our intended legacies of our work in cloth.

So to sum it up; sewing, sharing stories, journaling about it.  A word frequently sought to “rub” in cemeteries is Heaven.  Yep, that’s it.Susan Lenz working

Photos:  Susan Lenz demonstrating grave rubbing technique on cloth and one sample of her work.  Permission granted by Susan to include images.

Author: Sandy Gilreath

I've stitched my way through life. Early skills in utilitarian and decorative sewing have merged with art in the world of quiltmaking. My love of journaling has now crossed into the cloth world, too. I love old songs, old souls, old words; my collections attest to my fascination with memories.

5 thoughts on “Preserving the Past in Cloth”

  1. We did some brass rubbings in England, would never have imagined using cloth…very clever! Love your little angel!

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