Sunshine & Shadow combines the traditional Log Cabin quilt patch (Sunshine & Shadow variation) with squares of sandblasted plywood. The sandblasted portions have a buffalo motif in them, giving the quilt the feel of the Montana prairie where my mother’s family homesteaded Acorn Flats near Vananda.
The Sunshine & Shadow patches are made from beer cans. After I’d completed a few, I saw they looked like those in cigar ribbon quilts made in the 1800s -- rich, shiny, luminous surfACE.
Also, I noticed the patches had a “feminine” feel because of the floral-look of the tasseled hops images and the scrolls and loops of the typefACE used on the labels. I liked this “softening” of the he-man beer drinker image and played off it more by selecting portions for my quilt’s “ribbons” that echoed this theme: the “oh” from Stroh’s; the “Coo” from Coors; “de lish” from Ol[de] Eng[lish] 800 malt liquor. Of course, some ribbons say “lager,” or “udweiser,” harder sounds. Now, I thought, “sunshine and shadow” means two sides of the same story.
So in the sandblasted, buffalo-motif squares you’ll see two sides of the same story. For instance, one patch has a buffalo amidst waves of blowing grass, or is it in the middle of a grassfire? That patch has a “mate” on the opposite side of the quilt with only a few sprigs of grass left, or is the fire dying out? Another patch shows the buffalo in a rainstorm, or are those tears? In the companion piece, the storm has subsided, or are the tears just beginning to fall?
That dichotomy is carried out in the frame. First of all, is it a frame? It only contains three of the four sides. And it’s a snake, indelible in folklore as instigator of The Fall. Plus, it’s a rattler, loathed and feared. Big-fanged. You’ve heard the stories. Maybe it was your aunt or mother, sent into the root cellar for a jar of canned peaches and there in the cool dark, stretched the length of the shelf...a rattler. Or your uncle or granddad, walking into the tool shed, and there, dangling in the rafters, a dead-eyed rattler waiting for swallows to return to their nest.
In the winter of 1996 the Pacific Northwest was hit by a devastating ice storm. Power out. Phones dead. In my house, we hunkered down next to the fireplACE for three days. My wife had just visited William Penn’s estate and had learned to cook over an open fire by banking coals up next to the pots. We ate and cuddled and survived. The ice storm toppled trees everywhere. At my dad’s it took down a mountain ash. That’s what my snake is carved from. My snake reminds me of a pot of beans a-bubble, and me and my wrapped in afghans, reading books on our mattress in front of a warm fire.
But this snake also has “Don’t Tread On Me” carved along its back...an American sentiment, one popular in these-here parts. A warning. A challenge. The kind that can come back to bite you in the butt. Sunshine and shadow.
If you’re interested in purchasing Sunshine & Shadow, or would like to learn more about my community involvement projects, please e-mail me at , phone 509 362-5296, or write to me at P.O. Box 161, Marshall, WA 99020.