by Kiki Seiffertt
Tingling with excitement, I run my hand over the material. A special order, a Christmas quilt. My basement workshop glitters like a treasure trove: the floor stained with jewel-toned dyes, the drying racks strung like necklaces. In the corner my easy chair holds court with baskets of sewing notions.
As much as I love working the quilt patterns with my needle, I love more the wet, messy work of turning raw material into usable fabric of just the right color. I peruse the shelf of concentrated dyes. Jars of purple and black, chartreuse, lemon, baby blue. Stripes of violet and sage, the colors of my last quilt, leave rings around the dying tubs.
I prepare the ruby and emerald dyes carefully. Half the material steeps in the blood red dye, half swims in the sparkling green. I love watching the rich liquid dance over each fold of the fabric. They’ll sit for a week a more, soaking up the dark tones.
I didn’t realize anyone would find my quilts as lovely as I do, since I thought to experiment with a material no one had ever used. Yet my clients wrap themselves in these blankets, comforted by the soft leathery texture.
“Let’s go!” Mother’s bellow beckons me like Pavlov’s bell. However much I dislike working as her assistant, I know no other way to gather raw material. I reach for my collection of razors and scalpels and head to the stairs. Another cremation. More fabric to skin and dye.