Research point one p.71 of ATV

Susan Lenz Research point 1- Analyse how they select, apply and alter their chosen materials

“Generally my work is conceptually driven and meant to articulate the accumulated memory inherent in discarded things. I seek a partnership with my materials, their purposes, values, and familiar associations. Memory, universal mortality, and personal legacy are central themes.”

-Susan Lenz from an interview on

“Vintage and recycled materials are combined with meticulous handwork and self-guided, free motion machine embroidery. I am drawn to textiles for their tactile qualities and often make work that is meant to be touched.”

-Susan Lenz from  

I chose Susan Lenz for this research point as her work spoke to me on a deep level, her graveyard rubbings have a poignancy that I really connected with. Preserving memories is important to me so maybe that is why I connected so strongly. So although Susan’s work is not about mending or repairing, she does use found and discarded textiles but in a way that tries to recapture and immortalise precious memories. Her work asks us to look at our family heritage and preserve it for future generations to look back on.

Her Grave rubbing quilt series can be found here

For this series, Susan uses a crayon to take rubbings from gravestones. She does the rubbings directly onto fabric and sometimes on actual vintage clothes and textiles.She visits graveyards wherever she goes and takes rubbings. She looks for interesting motifs, quotes, symbols and words but rarely takes rubbings of people’s names, preferring for the final pieces to remain anonymous, maybe adding to the poignancy as you will never know whose graves these rubbings came from, or who they were, their memories lost.  She gathers vintage items such as child’s nightdresses, ladies gloves, tablecloths, hankies, doilies and she adds these to the bases of her quilts. She cuts out the rubbings and applies them to her quilts and art pieces with applique and she likens this to ‘graffiti’ that surrounds the vintage items. She adds hand stitching, free motion machine stitching, vintage buttons and trims to complete the pieces.


Image from

Susan visits antique stores to find her materials for her work. Sometimes people give her items if they know what she does so that although they don’t know what to do with family items/heirlooms, they will be used and remembered in Susan’s work. She also does a few commissions for people using their family’s vintage textiles and memories.     – my Pinterest board        – Making plans for your precious possessions | Susan Lenz |