In 1952, he was four years old and wanted to fly a kite. In this photo, he watched as his Daddy held the string and the kite climbed higher and higher. The air was crisp, the wind pulling the string quickly. At the moment the photo was taken, the boy sensed disaster on the horizon.
He was right. Shortly after the shutter clicked, the string broke and the red kite was gone. As the little boy grew, more kites flew and did not fly away, but the anxiety born that day was ever present when the kites were in the air.
When asked for appropriate titles for this art quilt, he said, Childhood Trauma, or Hold Tight, Daddy, or Don’t Let Go, would all be appropriate. In truth, he barely remembers the day, and probably wouldn’t remember it at all were it not for the photo. This is exactly the kind of experience I love to capture in cloth. A memory. A story. A moment frozen.
I printed the photo on a piece of vintage linen from an old tablecloth and added color to the boy’s jeans and cap with watercolor crayons. I had overdyed some old linen in the indigo vat that looked a lot like a winter sky, so I cut the foreground image from the photo and stitched it to the blue. I appliquéd the kite using a bit of French General red fabric, and hand embroidered the kite string and tails. When I added machine quilting stitches, I used dark thread to emphasize the fence posts and trees.
I finished the piece by attaching the fabric photo unit to an old quilt remnant, adding borders of ribbon and a coarsely woven red checked fabric. Hand and machine stitching were used for this step. The piece finished at 16” x 22”. A vintage doily serves as the label.