Saturday, October 31, 2009

Quilts, fly fishing, and Susan Damone Balch



This week I'm getting back to quilting, crafts, and healing. My friend and teacher, master quilter Susan Damone Balch, has written a guest post about her work and her latest quilt. That's a photo of it above. It's called Apache Trout (and it's for sale, by the way. Her contact information is below if you're interested.) The quilt is as intricately and expertly designed, executed, and filled with intent as all of Susan's quilts. But I'll let her speak for herself!

Hope, Recovery, Fishing, and Quilting
Susan Damone Balch
Quilt Artist & Fly Fishing Instructor
http://www.fishnquilt.com
susan@fishnquilt.com

I am passionate about both quilting and fly fishing. However, there was a period of about 10 years where I neglected my quilting for another healing art….fly fishing. It started when I became involved with Casting for Recovery, a national non-profit organization providing support to women in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery through fly fishing retreats. Their motto is “To Fish is to Hope.”

Between 2000 and 2007, I immersed myself in a full time job as Program Director of Casting for Recovery (CFR). Throughout those years I traveled around the country and had some incredible experiences, met some amazing women, helped to introduce thousands of women to the art and healing power of fly fishing, and had the opportunity to fish in some beautiful places. Mostly, I gained a new outlook on life. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that life is just too short!

As precious as those years are to me, I was not doing my art on a regular basis any more and really feeling the void. In the spring of 2007, I made the difficult decision to resign my full time position and re-commit to my art work. I am still involved with CFR and teaching fly fishing, but I am spending most of my time now in my beautiful home studio and, as Joseph Campbell says, I am following my bliss.

“Apache Trout” was one of the first quilts I completed when I returned to my art work. It was inspired by a trip to the White Mountains of Arizona where I was leading a Casting for Recovery retreat and had the opportunity to catch one of these little feisty creatures.

Native to Arizona, Apache Trout live in small stream habitat above 5,900 feet and are found nowhere else in the world. Once near extinction (listed as an endangered species in 1969), they have been restored to much of their historic range through decades of cooperative protection and recovery efforts. (The White Mountain Apache Tribe has been instrumental in their recovery along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, AZ Fish and Game, and Trout Unlimited.) The hope is they will someday be the first species of fish to be removed from the endangered species list.

But back to the quilt...I could not have done the design surrounding the trout without the help of [master quilter] John Flynn and the mathematical formulas he provided in his “Feathered Sun” book. The animal totem images in the corners are representative of the healing powers they are thought to possess. The snake represents fertility and life force; the frog, emotional healing and cleansing; the scorpion, defense and self-protection; and the lizard, caution and regeneration.

Quilt photo by John Polak

13 comments:

Lisa said...

What a great quilt!

Nancy Monson said...

Amazing, isn't it? I don't know how she has the patience and perserverance!

Ruth said...

What an incredible quilt this is. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Wow. I had no idea about such retreats. Indeed, there is nothing like fishing to bring out the optimist in us all. The quilt is really beautiful. Congratulations.

Jennifer Margulis said...

This must be one of the most beautiful quilts I've ever seen. My aunt made quilts for each of my children and they are among the most precious things we own. When there was recently a wild fire nearby, we were all thinking that the quilts were among the family treasures that we would want to take if we were to be evacuated.

Stephanie - Wasabimon.com said...

Oh. My. Gosh. This is gorgeous.

I really want to learn how to quilt - I need a local quilting circle!

Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

Stunning. Lots of depth and texture.

Frugal Kiwi said...

Truly stunning. My mother is a hand-quilter and dad is a fly-fisherman who builds his own rods. I sent this off for both of them to drool over.

Alexandra said...

I enjoyed reading the background to this quilt and really like the idea of the totem animals in the corners. It is absolutely beautiful.

Susan Damone Balch said...

What a terrific response, thanks! This quilt is the result of over thirty years of experience and experimenting. For more information on Casting for Recovery visit www.castingforrecovery.org.

Sheryl Kraft said...

What an absolutely beautiful quilt. And I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind it.

Peggy Bourjaily said...

Just gorgeous! I would love to learn how.

jenhaupt said...

Wow, a cool quilt and a great story behind it. Thanks, Nancy.