[in Just-], a Four-in-Art Quilt


For those of you who are avid English Paper-Piecers and are new followers, welcome!

in Just_in the garden

[in Just-]
#2 in the Literature Series
Quilt #147

Continuing our theme of literature and my personal love of poetry, this is the second in a series of four art quilts for this year, a collaborative effort by the Four-in-Art Quilters, a name chosen because we do four small (12″ square) art quilts per year.  For this quarter, I chose e.e. cummings’ poem “[in Just-],” a poem about a balloon man selling balloons in Spring.  I’m also following a seasonal theme, as the last art quilt focused on Winter.

in Just_front

e.e. cummings’ poem appears on the surface to be a simple sensory poem about “when the world is puddle-wonderful” and “bettyandisbel come dancing / from hop-scotch and jump-rope.”  It’s a world where the wonders of childhood dominate, from mud, “piracies” and “marbles” to  the sight of a balloon man with his wares to sell to the children.

in Just_in the vines

But in the last stanza of the poem, the capitalization and descriptions change.  The “old balloonman” becomes the “goat-footed balloonMan,” with his whistling pipes and inferences of Pan, a somewhat lascivious ancient god who is half goat, but has the reputation of pursuing the women.  Suddenly the poem changes, the games of childhood left behind as Pan brings different games to “eddieandbill” and “bettyandisbel,” games from which they will never stop playing.

Balloon Man

(detail of center panel)

When this version is presented by my students to the group (they each have to choose a poem, analyze it and present it), there are some groans, as in, “can’t this just be about balloons and spring and mud and marbles?”  Yes, it can.  But perhaps e.e. cummings is trying to have us look at two spheres at once: childhood and adulthood, and that razor-thin edge where we cross over from one into another.  We then have an interesting discussion (all very G-rated) about when they felt they crossed the dividing line from childhood to adulthood, and the answers vary from when I got my driver’s license, to when I first kissed a boy, to when someone left home, to when they had their first jobs and bills and live-in girlfriends.  And so it goes.  The balloons of childhood escape from our hands into the heavens, and we can never get them back.

Two Art Quilts

I plan to join all the quilts together when I’m finished; here are the two I’ve completed thus far.

in Just_back

[in Just-]

in Just_labelI can’t believe I left off the author’s name, so I hand-wrote it in.  There will be a final label when all the four quilts from this series are joined, so I’m just not going to worry about redoing it right now.  The “Deconstruction Post” will be next, with some info about how I made this quilt.

Tiny Nine-Patch

About Us: We live all over the world, from Scotland and Australia to the continental United States.  Our blog is *here.*

Please visit the other Four-in-Arters, and their quilts around this theme:

Betty May 2015Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com
Catherine May 2015
Catherine  at Knotted Cotton
Jennifer May 2015
Nancy May 2015
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel May 2015
Simone May 2015
Simone at Quiltalicious
 Susan May 2015
Susan at PatchworknPlay
Tiny Nine-Patch

13 thoughts on “[in Just-], a Four-in-Art Quilt

  1. You have such a great way “seeing” the poems come alive on fabric! The log cabin block is the perfect backdrop for this one (and it worked great on the Feb. reveal, too), allowing the children and balloon man to be “center stage”. Perfect poem, perfect art quilt!

  2. A hauntingly familiar theme that we, as parents, watch with apprehension as our off-spring engage in such transitions and learn how choices and consequences are tightly, and unavoidable, linked together! The result of this time of hands-off observation is much time spent in prayer!!!!!!!
    I love your quilting motif…..so perfect!!!! What a lovely group of artists!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this……………………….

  3. You never cease to amaze me with your ideas and creativity. This is just so perfect and the quilted balloons are over the top. I must admit that I was one of those readers who wanted it to be about the balloons when I was younger. Perhaps it is life experiences that makes us look at things differently. Anyway…..you did a great job on your project and it goes so nicely with the last one.

  4. I love how you are using the log cabin block to join the quilts style wise. I’ve never heard that poem…very interesting. My grandsons are currently in Nepal and lived through the earthquake and now recovery. Perhaps they would say that they have now slipped over the edge to adulthood, especially the oldest who is eleven. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the poem and your creative quilt.

  5. More and more this poem speaks to me. I remember learning it in grade school, and now of course I realize I didn’t get it. For a poem superficially about children and a young season, one has to be a pretty well-seasoned adult/mother to get it and love it for its deep worldliness. I remember being impatient with the unusual spacing. Just now I read it aloud and really paused where e.e. wants me to. The most simple things are the most deep. Regarding an art quilt and a poem’s spacing, open areas, and word clusters be reflected: I saw a large white quilt once in a gallery that had tiny, random red lines. The artist had worked with Emily Dickinson’s poems, but specifically her dashes, to create it. Thanks, Elizabeth. This post was a good way to start the day. I hope your father is doing okay.

  6. The perspective created by your log cabin border does a wonderful job of drawing your eye to the central panel and just as your last quilt captured the blue-white sparkly cold of the season, the colours of this one are just right for the spring. I guess the children in the poem will grow fast into the summer of their lives.

    I love that your quilts will have an overall theme and look forward to your treatment of the next season!

  7. Fascinating. Had to search for an uncommon use for “wee” as our common idea of “small” didn’t seem to work. Came across this on the site dictionary.com : “Middle English (originally a noun use in Scots, usually as a little wee ‘a little bit’): from Old English wēg(e).” Another reference there cited “weigh.” So can read that line as “far and ‘away’ ” or perhaps “far and ‘wide’ ” or maybe I’m totally off base. Or maybe wee can be taken as “to be heard only by the wee ones, i.e., children.” And forgive me for taking this discussion way off track. To me the phrase “far and wee” evokes the same kind of reaction as the phrase “auld lang syne.” Both translatable to current English if we think about it. Anyway, like the quilt, Elizabeth, and your idea of four seasonal minis becoming one.

  8. Look at you with following a theme, and even a plan for all year. I’m so impressed. This is a great quilt based off an interesting poem, and as always I feel like I am learning something in all your posts. The simple quilting of the balloons is quite effective. I can’t wait to see all four pieces put together.

  9. Your love and knowledge of the English language continues to amaze me Elizabeth! Your ability to bring it alive speaks volumes!!! And then to translate it into such a sweet and delicate piece of handwork is a real credit to you! And the colours and stitching are perfect too! You are going to have a truly wonderful art work when the year comes to an end!

  10. I love how you are using the log cabin theme to link all your quilts together! I think in your other life you should be an English Professor to perfect students. Your knowledge and understanding of the English language definitely shows in this quilt. Your technical background in putting this quilt together is amazing. I loved reading your deconstructing post:) I am so glad that we have amazing people like you to be part of such an outstanding group of quilters.

  11. I love how you are tying all this year’s minis together both in poetry and composition. Late late getting to this but sure glad I did.

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