Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unwinding the MBA, by Caryl Bryer Fallert

In honor of the U.S. holiday of Father's Day on June 19, we are featuring quilts made from men's ties. The tie has achieved notoriety as the traditional Father's Day gift to Dad from his family. In fact, the proverbial necktie gift is so ubiquitous that it is often the topic of jokes at this time of year.  However, some famous quilt artists have turned neckties into brilliant works of art. "Unwinding the MBA", by Caryl Bryer Fallert, won first place for inventive interpretation of an abstract theme at the 1985 National Quilting Association Show.

Caryl's fantastic quilt was inspired by her husband's decision to get rid of some old clothes. She wanted to make a quilt symbolizing her husband's coming home to relax after a stressful work day.  She writes, ''Many construction details of the original clothing were retained in the piecing. Dress shirt cuffs, collars, and ties form a spiral at the center of the quilt. Behind the spiral, at the top, are six inch squares of "serious suit" fabrics. 176 designer labels spill out of the spiral and continue around the border of the quilt". Caryl sewed the buttons back onto all the collars and cuffs, thereby tying the layers of the quilt together, and she sewed 13 watch faces across the "serious suit" fabrics to symbolize the time pressure under which businesspeople such as her husband worked. Progressing toward the bottom of the quilt, the fabric (squares) become more casual, mutating into diamonds, as corduroys and scraps from denim jeans, T-shirts, and flannel shirts are added.

While men's business clothes are sometimes seen as "drab" or "mundane", this quilt is lively and colorful.  Caryl used her quilting gifts in a highly original way to thank her husband for his gifts of time and effort on behalf of others.

In popular culture, the meaning of Father's Day has been extended to include all men who have played a special role in caring or nurturing us as a parent would do, including relatives, significant others, and good friends.  We think that a quilt is a heartfelt way to say "thank you" to anyone who provides for family and friends.

Image credits and links: The image is shown with the generous permission of Caryl Bryer Fallert. Caryl is an internationally recognized quilt artist whose patterns feature luminous colors and illusions of light, depth and motion. You can see dozens of Caryl's compelling designs at her Bryer Patch website.  For more information on the quilt shown above, see Unwinding the MBA.

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