Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mahalo nui loa Mrs. Baker

Maybe I did not try hard enough to please you. Maybe I did not try hard enough to convince you there was another way. Maybe the slow passage of days and incremental growth of things blinded us both to how set we get in our own ways. Sometimes you need a new set of eyes to look, or eyes caught in routine just need to see new things to be re-awakened.

A shade garden can be bold and visually exiting. It finally, after all those years, dawned on me to do just that. I started to sneak in drifts of bold leaf shapes and patterns in shade loving plants before I left. There wasn't going to be a bed of perennial sun loving flowers, but there could be drama.

You said it with a quilt. A relationship of over fifteen years was pieced together by hand. A quilt for my gardener, the gardener who won't let me have flowers. The fabric is shades of green, textures of leaves, an occasional red for a ginger that manages to bloom in the deep shade. The faded petals of an immense shower tree that carpet the ground in July show up as a touch of orange. The quilt for your long time gardener is all about the shaded, impenetrable, jungle foliage.

A Laua'e Fern pattern is stitched into the colorful green fabric. That is not why it took so long to get here. The quilt Mrs. Baker made for me has been on a journey.

All she really wanted was masses of flowers in her front entry.

And so I wouldn't forget, the other side of the quilt is the masses of flowers her gardener couldn't give her in the shade of a Mango, three Shower Trees, a Poinciana, a Kou and several Norfolk Island Pines. One side of the quilt is the gardener and the other side is Mrs. Baker, sewn together in botanical harmony.

I need more details, but my quilt was entered in several shows. It won a few awards, I think, and then hung in the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle's office for three months. My quilt was gathering more mana before it came to be with me.

A gardener inspires a quilt and a client inspired a story.

Mahalo nui loa, Jackie. I live in a shaded forest myself now. I will be using a lot of bold leaf shapes and patterns to create drama in my new garden, but my front entry is in full sun. I will be able to have masses of flowers up there.

Updated: The Whole Quilt

The back

The top.

Please ignore the ceiling fan cord just barely visible on the right.


deb said...

Awesome story, beautiful quilt, serene garden...you are a pleasure my artist friend.

Frances, said...

Hi Christopher, that quilt is a true inspiration to beauty of all types. Thinking of the leafy tapestry as a quilt is so apt. Thanks for this touching story, your quilt is a masterpiece.

Christopher C. NC said...

Hi Deb, I've been meaning to check in with you to see what's up. I'm on a seven day a week schedule between my clients and cabin building. At the end of the day, I'm wore out.

I need to get a picture of the whole quilt to show the overall pattern. It is gorgeous.

Frances you should have seen some of Jackie Baker's quilts. I saw many over the years. Most were excellent, some blew me away, they were so amazing.

Pam/Digging said...

That quilt is a gift to treasure, Christopher. Not only is it beautifully made, the creativity and tailoring of the design just for you make it very special. Wow.

susan harris said...


Annie in Austin said...

The story is still powerful nearly two years after I first read it - you are so freaking talented and the inspiration for your story is also quite an artist.

Before I could comment, "Laua'e Fern" had to go into google... I found out the pattern is used on Hawaiian Wedding shirts as a symbol of love, that if you miss Hawaii you could buy a rug embossed with Laua'e Fern or even have a box of the fronds flown to Carolina.

Great post, Christopher.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

chuck b. said...

What a stunning, exquisite piece of art to warm up your cabin in the shady woods!

Christopher C. NC said...

Wow is right. My beautiful quilt hung in the governor's office.

Annie you are so flattering and a fountain of information, a major wit as well. Maybe you should do a little more story telling too.

Chuck I may have to knock out a wall in the cabin and add on to display the quilt properly.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It would be worth the effort to have a place to display your quilt.

Gail said...

Christopher, It's so beautiful...and what a journey.

Cindy, MCOK said...

Mahalo nui for sharing that story and the pictures. What a treasure!