We spent our 50th wedding anniversary in Venice with a twilight gondola ride through canals lined with old homes, each with their own dock post. Our evening ride ended with a cruise along the Grand Canal. I was intrigued with the elegant, black gondolas with their ferros, distinctive metal designs at the prow, the front of the gondola. In the early morning it was a delight to see them lined up at the dock. Their artistic ferro designs gleamed in the early morning light – each a piece of art. In each gondola the gondolier’s hat, signifying ownership of the vessel, sat perched on the bench. We learned from our gondolier that steering a gondola requires a license that takes many years to earn. Gondoliers frequently come from families who pass down the skill from one generation to the next. The oar and oarlock are the most important parts of the gondola and are often shaped to fit the hand of a particular gondolier.
My design was constructed on relief paper from my memory of our ride. The fabrics include recycled silk from a thrift shop, hand-dyed cotton, shot cottons and hand-dyed cheesecloth. Parts of the design were accented with heat-set PrimaColor fabric pencils. The colorful post on the lower left, seen all around Venice, was built by laying tiny strips of turquoise fabric onto white fabric and red strips onto white. The colorful, shadowy homes are highlighted with windows, some with closed shutters, and doors with beads for doorknobs. The back of the quilt is strip pieced into a design using shot cottons by Kaffe Fassett that complement the colors in the silk fabric.