My Appalachia

Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Art Quilts, Inspirations and Designing | 9 Comments

After reading J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, I thought about my own deep ties to Appalachia. I also dug out one of my favorite local history books, Railroad City, also known by local historians as ‘the red book.’ I have gone to this source many times when referencing local housing styles. My very early beginnings and that of my parents was in the type of homes shown on the cover of this book. Ideas for my own visual memoir began to form. I pulled out some house images that I had previously sketched and translated them into stencils for silkscreen.

My techniques for the several ‘works in progress’ shown in this post are silkscreen, stenciling, and scraping into wet fabric paint. Below is a closeup of one of the fabrics as it developed.

I printed layers and ‘ghost layers’ of houses, then scraped into the wet fabric paint with a palette knife.

Below is a closeup of one of the finished fabrics, showing the last layers. The theme here is Train Town, (although only the tracks are suggested.) No matter where we seem to move in our town, the sights and sounds of the railroad follow us.

Below is the whole fabric. Sometime during the winter it will come together as an art quilt.

This picture below shows another fabric in progress. It’s working title is Appalachian Summer. As a child, I remember walking by vacant lots overgrown with tall weeds such as teasel and sumac, as well as houses that have seen better days. These were the best places to find empty soda pop bottles….the currency of my friends and I. At that time pop bottles could be turned in at the corner store for money to buy penny candy and comic books!

Two smaller fabrics below and some fun with negative spaces.

I can tell winter is coming closer and closer…the teasel are getting bluer and bluer!

Other fabrics are still wrapped in plastic, and curing for now. I have enough dyes and seaweed paste to make 2 more pieces of fabric this week. Then I’m looking forward to final touches and quilting over the cold days of winter. Keep the coffee coming!

9 Comments

  1. Nanette Anslinger
    November 8, 2017

    Superb work. Thanks for sharing the “in progress”. Memories of my childhood on the sidewalks and in the alleys of Altoona, as well….

    Reply
    • Sharon Wall
      November 8, 2017

      Thanks, Nanette! Glad to know someone else remembers those times and places.

      Reply
  2. Metedith
    November 8, 2017

    Wow. You sure are busy producing great stiff…what is seaweed paste? Akin to print paste?
    Can’t wait to see them on person.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wall
      November 9, 2017

      Yes, it is print paste. My students were always fascinated by the fact that the thickening powder is from seaweed….so we always called it seaweed paste.

      Reply
  3. Martha Ressler
    November 8, 2017

    These are just so neat! I love the translucent inks.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wall
      November 9, 2017

      Thanks! I like to use Versatex print ink with a lot of translucent base added.

      Reply
  4. Cathleen Gable
    November 26, 2017

    Really like these fabrics and the story of their origins. I read and enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy; the information helped me better understand why Trump was a beacon of hope to a marginalized population. Ron Howard bought the rights to the book, I’m looking forward to seeing the film.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wall
      November 27, 2017

      Thanks for your kind words. Didn’t know about Ron Howard buying the rights to the book. Will be looking forward to the movie!

      Reply
  5. Ralph Bennett
    July 26, 2018

    Literature, Art, Music….Like select elements and coal produce diamonds, these three above elements produce gems from select persons. Shine on Sharon, you talented and bituminous-like jewel. I love your work.

    Reply

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