Bloomfield Star was the winning proposal for a public art competition held by the community of Bloomfield, Ontario, and installed in 2009.
Bloomfield Star is a sculpture of a quilt blowing in the wind on a clothes line. An illusion is created of a moment in time, frozen, reminiscent of summer days, memories of Quaker life and simple pleasures of watching clothes dry on the line. The design painted on the flowing shape is derived from a classic quilt pattern called the Bethlehem Star, a design that would have inspired quilts made by the Quaker women of Bloomfield. The sculpture floats over the garden supported by two poles on each side and one embedded pipe that becomes the 'clothesline'.
On the surface, what we have is a playful take on the idea of a sculpture. However, there are several layers for the viewer to discover based on customs of the Quaker culture. The choice of the quilt itself, represents what would have been the most visual and colourful expression of the lives of this community that led a very simple and unembellished life for the most part.
The artist here becomes the quilt maker and applies some Quaker customs in the design. For example, it was common to deliberately include a 'mistake' or place one block upside down in order to affirm that only God and not the quilt maker is perfect. You will be able to find a 'mistake' when you visit the sculpture. Depending on the occasion, the signatures of all those who made the quilt would be embroidered on and this would be more of a keepsake quilt. The initials of those who worked on this sculpture are written in the cement at the base of the sculpture.
Naming the sculpture Bloomfield Star is also my way of reflecting the custom of the Quaker women who took a classic pattern, made it their own and freely naming it according to an occasion or other personal story.
Materials and Installation
The structure of the quilt is made of a steel framework, one unit that includes the shape of the quilt, the clothesline as well as the attachments for the lower support poles. The framework was wrapped in metal mesh and two coats of fibreglass fabric were applied with polyester resin on both front and back. The quilt is painted in a special two part polyurethane paint (Endura). This procedure is similar to building a fibreglass boat. The paint is used for boats that do not come out of the water.
Twenty inch sono tubes formed the 5 foot deep cement footings for the poles. The poles are made of 4 inch steel pipe, painted brown.
The quilt with the extended steel clothesline arrived on site and set into place. Once positioned, the clothesline was welded into place. At this point, precise locations for the smaller footings were determined and completed. The support pipes were fitted into the brackets that extend through the fibreglass in the bottom corners at the back of the quilt and welded in place. Although light in weight the sculpture is rigid and the smaller support poles insure the stability of the piece.
Model submitted for Competition
Steel and wire mesh
The skeleton frame of the sculpture was welded in steel. It is one piece including the bar that is the 'clothesline'. It is shown laying down while the sheets of wire mesh are tied to the frame.
A layer of wire mesh was applied to both sides. This view shows the steel bar that acts as the clothesline in the finished piece.
Application of Fibreglass
Two layers of fibreglass were applied to the complete surface of the sculpture.
The final coat was sanded ready to paint.
White paint applied
The sculpture was first painted in white. A two part polyurethane paint was used.
Detail of painting process
The design was drawn on the white surface and three colours applied.
Paint was mixed in very small batches as the curing time was short.
Detail of pattern
First green is applied
The time spent on this sculpture would easily compare with a fabric quilt.
Red back of sculpture
Quilt sculpture finished and hanging in the barn studio.
Posts are in and the crew are waiting for the cement truck.
Trip to Bloomfield
Lifting Sculpture into Place
Welded into Place
The clothesline is to be welded in place.
Paint touch ups and we are done.
A garden and plaque completed.
Finished Bloomfield Star
Main Street, Bloomfield