As a kid, I remember hearing the story of the “Ugly Duckling” and thinking there was something wrong with it. It didn’t make sense to me because the duckling was never really a duck, it was always a swan so it could never have fit into the duck family. In my mind the story would have made more sense if the “ugly duckling” was really a duck that just didn’t fit in with the rest of the ducks. And then it grew, not to be a swan, but to be an interesting and creative duck who accomplishes, well, something special in her life. Apparently I took the whole story too literally. For obvious reasons.
So even though I didn’t quite get the story, it stayed with me. As did the idea of “ugly”.
I can still see in my mind a skit from Sesame Street. The little boy (a puppet of course) was looking for his mother. When people asked what she looked like so they could help him find her, he told them she was the most beautiful woman in the world. When he finally finds her, it turns out she looks like an old hag. That message I easily understood and it stayed with me. For obvious reasons.
I guess for a long time I’ve been looking for the beauty in what others might see as ugly. And that’s how this quilt began. Actually, its how I began quilting. Looking for the piece of fabric that, because its out of fashion, has become “ugly”. Then trying to use it in a way that brings out its beauty. The beauty that made someone create it to begin with. And we know how fashion works, when its “in” it looks great and when it’s no longer fashionable it becomes ugly, until it comes back into fashion again.
This quilt, my Ugly Quiltling, began with a piece of fabric that I recognized as ugly, but was also able to see as kinda neat. It’s a maroon, blue, green and gray plaid wool. Maybe something someone made a skirt out of thirty years ago. I actually tried to give it away twice, but both times it came back to me. That’s when I knew had to use it.
And the perfect opportunity came along when I checker-boarded the small green and flowered squares that I got from Laura Israel (an artist who died about 10 years ago. Her son’s friend thought of me when they were looking to give her fabric away.) When I laid them out on that “ugly” piece of wool, they worked off each other almost as if the green and flowered squares were the pattern on the “ugly” wool if you were to enlarge it. Beauty showing itself, if you just took some time to look a little closer.
Ugly, like beauty is subjective, in art, in people and in ducklings. My Ugly Quiltling, like it’s namesake, the Ugly Duckling, isn’t really ugly at all. In my eyes anyway, it’s beautiful.
Most of the fabric on this The Ugly Quiltling is vintage. The flowered squares, and the red flowers on blue are from 1974. (the year stamped on the edge of the fabric). It’s all a mix of wool, cotton, cotton/polyester, corduroy and something velvety. The fruit and corn are from a table napkin and the farm scene was once used as a curtain by someone’s mother.
Ugly Quiltling is Sold
for sale. It’s 70″x83″ and is $300 + $20 Shipping. If you can see it’s beauty and would like to own it, you can email me at [email protected]. I take checks and paypal.