My mother just celebrated her 92nd birthday in December. She lived alone and drove until October when she was forced to move to an assisted living facility when it was no longer safe to live alone. She is the only living child of Athanasie Zeringue, my maternal grandmother. Although I don’t know the complete story, my grandmother left her comfortable life on a plantation to become the wife of a farmer. Times were difficult due to the weather dependant nature of farming and the effects of the Great Depression and they frequently had to relocate. The family grew quickly; 11 pregnancies produced 9 children. The older children had to help with chores and care for the younger siblings. All of the children eventually were needed to help plant and harvest the crops, sew clothes AND attend school when possible. My mother shared many stories of their farming life - it was a hard life but the family was very close and shared many good times when they relaxed on Sundays. They were a hardy family. My grandmother lived to the age of 85 and five of her children were in their early 90s when they died. My favorite aunt, Mathilde, died at 93 but continued to cut her own grass with a push mower until she was 91!! I will never forget how hard they all worked to make better lives for themselves and their children. They exemplify STRONG to me in all respects.
I chose an oak tree to represent the Zeringue family. It was the obvious choice as it embodies strength and they grow abundantly in
where the family farmed and lived. My
mother is represented by the lone leaf on the branch. I sketched an oak tree and then traced it onto
freezer paper to use as a pattern. Four layers of tuille were needed to achieve the right shade of brown and were basted together. The freezer paper pattern of the tree was lightly ironed onto these layers. I pinned the tuille and pattern onto my background batik and stitched around the edges of the pattern. When done, I carefully cut away the excess tuille. I also
made several leaves using a similar technique and stitched these onto the
background at the bottom of the tree. Batting and
backing fabric were layered and the piece was machine quilted; Zeringue is stitched into the
bark of the tree. I also machine quilted several leaves in the background. The extra leaves on the ground and in the background represent the previously deceased family members. Fused strips of background fabric were used to bind the piece.
On the back is the handwritten invitation for my grandmother’s wedding and a picture of the plantation where my grandmother lived which I printed onto fabric and used for the backing.