Surfer Quilt – Bereavement quilt made for daughter from Dad’s golf shirts

Alice loved her father, but his having been raised in America by Chinese parents with strict traditional values of hard work, he could never quite understand Alice and her love of surfing, thinking that most surfers were bums.  Alice, however, thought surfing – something she discovered as she was exploring career choices – was “… one of the best life courses I ever took – many of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned have come from surfing…. So to me, surfing was/is a teacher in how to live.

With this in mind, she wanted a quilt that honored her dad, and sent me a bag of red, white and blue golf shirts, asking for a quilt that also spoke to her love of surfing.  For although her father never quite approved of it, he always bought her a new surfboard when she broke the old one – his way of supporting her without giving his wholehearted approval.

Rhonda Bracey quilt used as model for surfer bereavement quilt

In researching ideas for Alice’s surfer quilt, I came across Rhonda Bracey astounding quilt and it blew me away.  In discussing the quilt with Alice, she gave me free rein to use any colors I wanted, allowing me to use colors that weren’t true to nature so when I saw Bracey’s image, I immediately saw a large red wave.  It seemed to express the enormous vitality and spirit that Alice exuded in her life choices and emotional makeup.  She is a lady that loves and respects her family but has pushed against much of her family’s values, living her life on her own terms and not flinching in the face of risk, learning from her mistakes and now helping others find their way through life.

Detail of surfer bereavement quilt

Although I did use a few materials of my own – the silver moon and surfer herself, plus the iridescent ripples of the moon’s light upon the water – all of the other materials were from the dad’s golf shirts, ties, or Hawaiian shirts.  I also left a few of the golf insignia’s on the waves, even a fish or two.

Detail at the bottom of bereavement quilt

Many of the ties I used to supplement the golf shirts can be seen as waves in the detail above.  Alice had two other requests for her quilt, other than the surf board idea.  She wanted an image of her Dad’s dog Nalu – now her dog – and a spam musibi, both of which had great meaning in her life.  She said her father was careful with his money and always said that a spam musibi – a Hawaiian treat made of spam, seaweed and rich – was ‘a good deal’.

When Alice received her quilt, she wrote:  “When I saw the quilt, I burst into tears. It’s so beautiful and just perfect and evokes so many memories.”