Archive for UFOs – Unfinished Objects

Boxes and Borders – an Unfinished Object

Unfinished decorated top for an art quilt, "Boxes and Borders"Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

This unfinished quilt top has been in my studio since the early 80s. Measuring 44″W x 30″T ( 112 cm W x 76 cm T), it has just about all of the hand applique completed. I did 4 smaller versions that were framed and all quickly sold, but this larger piece was set aside, hidden behind the usual vertical pinning board on which I create my quilt tops. So there it sat, until last Fall, when I began my “Personal Archeology” expedition in my studio, otherwise known as cleaning it out. So this piece will be the first UFO or “Unfinished Object” that I’ll write about.

Detail of an unfinished contemporary art quilt top - "Boxes and Borders"I’m  not quite sure as to why this piece was waylaid, especially since it’s so close to having the top finished. I can only speculate that perhaps there was a deadline for an exhibition where another piece was more suitable, and this was set aside for while, only to be set aside (read buried!) If you were to see my studio, you’d realize that sometimes it’s a miracle that the cats can get in and out safely, much less me when I’ve pulled out a lot of materials to start a new piece. I do remember that it was to symbolize people around a dinner table, as my ex and I used to love to give dinner parties. Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party book had come out a few years before, and I know that I had read it, even though I didn’t like a number of the images, so I’m guessing that that book had something to do with images, too.

Detail of an unfinished contemporary art quilt top, "Boxes and Borders"I do remember one memorable thing about the subject matter for this piece. I have always wanted my work to be interesting enough that you’d be compelled to walk across a room to see it better. As you got closer, and closer, you’d see more and more interesting details. Before making this larger quilt top, as I said, I made four small framed pieces, “Study I, II, III, and IV for Boxes and Borders”. All of them sold quickly, and one of them I knew had gone to a couple as a wedding present. Years later I was at a party and saw an interesting piece of art work hanging on the wall. I walked over to see it, and it was one of those four study pieces I had sold some twenty years before. So, I guess I got my wish in that at least to me, my own work is interesting enough that I’ll walk over to look at it.

 What do people say about your work? Is it what you want them to be saying about you? I know for myself, when I first started, I didn’t want to be known for “all of those little tiny beads”, but after awhile, I accepted that’s what I’m know for.

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