Joshilyn Jackson's Art Quilt

Joshilyn Jackson came to the Margaret Mitchell House last night to launch her new book The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. I managed to secure a copy of Girl a few days ago to start reading it before Jackson came. (It's always nice to have a notion of what the books are about before the authors present.) It's a fun read with interesting plot twists and characters. More on that later.

Above are two pictures of the quilt from the book. Jackson told us, in her wonderfully dynamic and theatrical way, that she wanted to learn how to make quilts when she was pregnant. She admits that the quilts she made weren't great, but the experience of learning how to quilt and the people she met was. She met Pamela Allen, a fabric artist, for example. Jackson's experience with Allen and her work impressed her so deeply that she decided to have a character in her next book be a fabric artist. Laurel Gray Hawthorne, the protagonist, is a fabric artist, and Jackson created Laurel's quilts from her knowledge and admiration of Allen's work.

After she finished writing Girl, she asked Allen to create the quilt from the story. In the novel, the quilt, a rather morbid affair of a mouthless bride with blood on her hands (the blood is represented by red rose buds, presumably from her bouquet), represents some significant themes and Laurel's experience. (I haven't finished the book, but I think the representation is figurative; I can't fathom Laurel as a murderer.) In the book, Laurel creates this quilt with hidden pockets and even uses a human tooth in one of the flowers. Allen didn't plan to use a tooth in her creation of the quilt, but when an emergency trip to the dentist provided that option, she added the tooth to her quilt. The tooth is sewn into a hidden pocket on the boot of the bride.


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