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Michael Gold tells stories through quilting

"In My Father's Ties" The quilt is a symbolic representation of Michael Gold's father.
"In My Father's Ties" The quilt is a symbolic representation of Michael Gold's father.
Michael Gold

Michael Gold is a Renaissance man; an interior designer, a visual artist, an educator, and a singer/dancer/actor with a Broadway credit to his name. He's also a world class quilter.

Michael gold
Michael gold
Don Morreale

Quilter? You're thinking "Grandma," right?

But real men can – and do – quilt. In fact, there's a whole show of quilts by men on display right now at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, and if you haven't seen it, it's worth a visit. Prominently featured is a piece by Michael Gold called In My Father's Ties.

Gold had already been machine sewing theater costumes for ten years by the time he was introduced to quilt making in 1987. He went to a hand piecing and quilting class at a place called Quilts in the Attic on Old South Gaylord.

"I was the only guy in the class," he said. "The teacher was one of my mom's best friends. She taught us this pattern called Grandmother's Star. I fell in love with it. I made a quilt out of all the scraps from ten years of sewing -- my nephew's Halloween costume, curtains from my college dorm room, fabric from costumes I made at the Country Dinner Playhouse. To this day, I can tell you where all the scraps came from."

Gold soon realized that quilt-making could serve as a medium for story-telling. In My Father's Ties is a case in point.

"When my dad died in 1993, I inherited his ties," Gold said. "He had over 60 ties, a lot of them from the '70s and '80s. They were big, wide, colorful, and bold. He was a businessman who sold fluid and mechanical controls like water valves and meters. He was also a hobbyist oil painter, a great sketcher, and a devout Catholic."

In 1997 Gold was performing in the Broadway revival of Annie when his dresser (herself a quilter) suggested that he incorporate the ties into a quilt to honor his dad's memory. He cut them into 2" pieces and appliquéd them onto fabric squares – 576 of them – which he pieced together into a traditional pattern known as Cathedral Windows. He sewed together cotton squares in the form of a color palette for the backing.

"The overall cathedral window pattern represents Dad's Catholic faith," he explained. "The ties represent his business career. The multi-colored backing represents the artist in him."

Gold estimates it took him upwards of 15,000 man hours to complete the piece, working on it 4 to 10 hours a day. The work, he said, ultimately turned into a form of grieving not only for his own father, but also for the fathers of his friends in the show's cast and crew.

"My dad was my best friend," he said. "I was only 38 when he died. I would work on it in my dressing room and folks would drop in and tell me stories about their fathers. It became a way for all of us to process our stories."

Over the years his friends and relatives have called upon him to tell their stories through his quilts. Four of the panels on the National AIDS Quilt, for example, were created by Gold. He did framed quilt squares for a client and her three sibs fashioned from their bathrobes, pajamas, dresses, and jackets. His best friend lost both parents six weeks apart. Gold created two quilts for him and his sister, fashioned from their parents' clothing. They were displayed at a Christmas open house where friends and relatives reminisced through tears and laughter.

"Quilting is an art that allows me to express who I am and what lies in my heart," Gold said. "It's so powerful in the way it ignites and moves people's emotions, and yet it's just fabric."
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For More Info:

Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum www.rmqm.org
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Coming soon! "Cowboys, Yogis, and One-legged Ski Bums" a collection of Don Morreale's Examiner.com stories.