Nine of Hearts for Charleston Quilt

I swooned opening up the first of the squares to arrive for the “Hearts for Charleston” quilt. Mo Orkiszewski from Sydney, Australia made this one. (She is a multi-dimensional artist who blogs at It’s Crow Time). These photos do not do it justice — can you see how beautifully detailed it is?
She cut red felt into open hearts and then outlined each with a thickly applied whip stitch that must have taken hours and hours to apply. Some of the stitches, she told me, were made while listening to President Obama’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Tears fell onto the cloth.

Delicate cross stitches and running stitches make, to this eye anyway, a map of sorts — all while connecting the strips and integrating the layers. Mo admitted to me that she had never quilted before.  How, in five years (or more?) of following her blog, I wondered, could I not have noticed? What an amazing first effort!

Some of the indigo, as well as the tiny white bird print, were gifts from Jude (Spirit Cloth). The birds represent the birds of peace.

From an email exchange:

the backing cloth is an indigo dyed “daylight moon” that I bought from Glennis Dolce (Shibori Girl) in 2013, the half circle edge of the moon was stitched from the back at first but it looked wrong on the front so I took out a lot of the stitches, then restitched them with the raw indigo dyed silk in the final hour because the organza held the memory of the moon edge and made that ridge  — the thought behind it is an abstracted heart with the 9 heart silhouettes forming the left hand side of the heart shape and the right hand side is the healing flow of the water of love that all hearts create

Do you see the row of wishbones along one edge? There are nine.

As someone with a special affinity for crows, feathers, and avian bones, Mo’s inclusion of bird bones was no surprise, and from her online photo, I thought they were REAL. It might have made sense — not just because of her affinities, but also because sometime last year I mailed her a baggie full of wishbones. Perhaps they are returning? I thought.

(No, as it turned out, and better cloth than bone for ease of construction later).

I love what they say here.. representing nine wishes for peace and healing for each of the nine deceased and their families, and perhaps also nine places for their souls to make wishes as well?

Her square will not be dedicated to one of the victims like the others. Instead, it represents the COLLECTIVE loss — the wound to Emanuel AME, and indeed, to the larger community.

To read more about the project, check out the category: “Hearts for Charleston Quilt”.

The project has taken on a life of its own well-beyond what I could have imagined. The email exchanges happening right now are not at all limited to housekeeping. It turns out that each participant NEEDED an outlet of some kind to express their heart ache and our emails have become places to share family histories, grief, and hope. I am learning so much and appreciating the participants so much! More on that down the road.

8 thoughts on “Nine of Hearts for Charleston Quilt

  1. Hazel

    I always love Mo’s delicate red markings, and even more than ever in this piece full of her gifts of love, talent and thoughts for those lost- This communal project of yours is such a good thing of beauty and honoring.

  2. RainSluice – artist and educator

    Just beautiful. Mo. In every way. I want to study this post and these images of Mo’s work again, Dee, and for a long time.

  3. Liz A

    I love how Mo has channeled her artistry into this new (to her) medium. Small wonder that the hands that tie such delicate knots would find their way to equally exquisite stitches.
    It is a beautiful honoring of the nine who were lost to us all.


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