Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Storytelling - One Stitch at a Time

A number of years ago I was drawn down a path I had never imagined I would walk.  The world of quilting.  Well, technically it's "sewing," and "creating," but my own product does not become a quilt until I take it to the magic-weaver.  The person who transforms my imagined product into the real-deal.  The quilter.  The person behind the machine.  And the woman I go to works true magic and turns my story into a work of art.
Valerie Reynolds...quilter extraordinaire!
Get comfortable - for here the story begins.

 My daughter is a fantastic fine arts teacher - middle school theatre arts, no less!  She opens the minds and hearts of these wonderfully energetic young people and shows them that drama is not always a bad thing!  She had moved schools a couple of times and worked her magic on many before deciding to explore the world of administration.  More power to her!  Not my gig, that is for sure.  The story begins with a collection of t-shirts she had from her years teaching, and the fact that I had previously made t-shirt quilts for both my children.
Made for my daughter from shirts collected from a variety of fine arts productions.
Made for my son from shirts collected in sporting, performing arts and other activities he was involved in.  Makes a great picnic blanket for the family!
Setting the scene:

The phone rings.

"Mom.  I love you so much!   Would you be willing to make me a t-shirt quilt out of all these old shirts I have around the house?  I'll never wear them again."


"Sure," I answer.  "But it will be a while because I'm working on something else right now.  Besides my day job.  Send them to me and we'll see what they look like."

"Thanks, Mom!"

And so the journey begins.  The box arrives.  T-shirts from 2 schools for sure, maybe 3.  I have a few minutes so start cutting them down to an approximate size.  Stacked and ready to craft into a quilt, I set them aside.

About a month later (timeline is a bit foggy because the focus changed a couple of times).

Phone rings.

"Hey mom - don't do anything with those shirts right away.  I am applying for an administrative position at my old school, and if I get it I will need some shirts back.  Wouldn't that be cool!? "

"Um....yes!  But it's too late.  Cutting done."

"Oh...okay.  Well don't sew until I know about the job.  We might do just one group of t-shirts."

And so she gets the job, and now I am tasked with designing something to display in an office!  No pressure!

It was a fun project, actually, and I found a really cute pattern I hadn't seen before.  So I got to work in earnest so she could have it done when school started.  For both of us!

First to figure out the fabric to use as borders around the shirts.  Then how to arrange the blocks into a pleasing design.
Then the struggle to find the right angle to cut so there was continuity across the whole quilt.
Then to sew them all together and take them to the quilter for her creative touch.  Ta da!

When the quilt came home from Valerie's, I sewed the binding around the edge - that finishing touch - and sewed a label on the back.  I did have a little too much help doing my finish work!

Off in the mail it went, with strict instructions on washing - and getting me a photo of the quilt hanging in it's place of honor in her new office.  Thankfully my daughter knows that this is a serious endeavor and she crafts a lovely finished product.
The new Assistant Principal, Ms. Wortham, in her office.
And every Assistant Principal needs a helper!  Miss Choe looks right at home here!

Well, just in time.  I begin work tomorrow and the rest of the semester is laid out ahead of me.  I am so glad this story-telling quilt has finally come together and is hanging "at home."  It brings me great joy to create something for someone else, whether it's a quilt, scarf, photograph or book.  And knowing my work is appreciated and loved back is all the reward I need.

(On a side note - apparently I could go into business doing quilts.  
Christine says the orders are piling up!)

What do YOU create that brings joy to yourself and/or someone else? 
 Living a creative life is very rewarding.


Christine said...

It is seriously the most beautiful thing in the world! I get so many compliments on it from everyone who walks into my office! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Jennifer Quick said...

Absolutely gorgeous! It looks awesome in the office. Good luck Christine in your new position!!!