Tag Archives: “collaborative quilting”

Sent-Hearts for Charleston Quilt

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I shipped the “Hearts for Charleston” quilt last week and the Mother Emanuel’s Memorabilia Committee ought to have received it by now. I’m glad the quilt made it there before the first anniversary of the massacre (June 17).

There is so much to say about this project — how it came together, how much it meant for the ten participants, what each of us learned about the lives lost — but posting about the quilt’s creation doesn’t feel respectful at the moment. If you’re curious, a lot of the process along with links to the makers can be found in the sidebar category “Hearts for Charleston Quilt”.  I expect some narrative and documentation to follow. But not now.

Here are photos of the nine people who lost their lives last summer.

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Charleston Shooting

People stand outside as parishioners leave the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C., four days after a mass shooting at the church claimed the lives of its pastor and eight others. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Blocks were made to honor: Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, Rev. and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Depayne Middleton Doctor, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr.

After reading this Post and Courier article, we also decided to honor the five people in the church that night who survived: Felicia Sanders and her granddaughter (Felicia is Tywanza Sanders’ mother), Polly Sheppard, and Jennifer Pinckney (Rev. Clementa’s widow) and her daughter.

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Kathy Dorfer stitched “Love heals” on her block (and enclosed this with her square)

The contrast between slow cloth and swift violence was evident all along the way, repeatedly reminding us of the ruthless speed of the news cycle, the continuing savage treatment of blacks in this country, and the permanence of this kind of loss.

I wanted the recipients to be able to hang the quilt upon receipt if desired, so I enclosed a four foot long dowel. That meant I had to use a long, narrow box. It bothered me how much the box looked like the size and shape of a container that would house a rifle. I said as much to the clerk — the staid one with the frizzy bleached hair. To her credit, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy. But she did say the most inane thing to reassure me: “Oh don’t worry, you answered all the questions.”

Answered all the questions? You mean about shipping things “liquid, fragile, perishable, and potentially hazardous” – the questions that I, and presumably lots of other people, routinely lie about? Oh well, I’m guessing the box was opened.

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I insured the quilt for $500, but if it offers some of the comfort that quilts have been offering since the dawn of needles and cloth, I will consider it priceless.
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Participants: Liz Ackert of Texas, Hazel Cindy Monte of Washington,  Maggie Rose of New Jersey, Gillan Wang of Massachusetts, Kathy Dorfer of California, Nancy Erisman also of California,
Dana Webb of Washington, Kristin Anne Freeman of Montana, Mo Orkiszewski of Australia.

To read more, click on category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt” here
or find me on instagram (deeamallon) using category as hashtag

To investigate this style of quilting more, visit
the inspiring and generous master quilter,
Jude Hill 
at “Spirit Cloth

Susie Jackson and Tywanza Sanders Hearts for Charleston Quilt

 

 On June 17 last summer, the Jackson family of Charleston lost three of its members: Susie Jackson, her cousin Ethel Lance, and Susie’s nephew, Tywanza Sanders. Because Tywanza Sanders tried to shield his aunt from the shooter and then reached out to comfort her as they both lay dying, I stitched their names on the same heart. Their funeral services were held together.
img_3873Susie Jackson, the oldest person slain last summer, was a trustee of the Emanuel AME and a former member of the choir. In this article from “The Post and Courier”, she was remembered as “a family and church matriarch.” According to the same article, Ms. Jackson “volunteered in myriad ways over her many years of constant faith and fidelity.” 

Because of her love of music, I couched some black satin cording in a G clef for the back of the block.

At their joint service, a rousing performance of “I Can’t Give Up Now” was sung. Here’s a link to Lee Williams singing a version of same.

I learned from a “Post and Courier” article that two caissons carried the caskets of Susie Jackson and Tywanza Sanders from the church.

Before he was shot, Tywanza stood between the shooter and his Aunt Susie and said, “You don’t have to do this.”

He was said to possess a brightness of spirit and such brightness is very visible on his instragram feed. “The Post and Courier” quoted a friend as saying of him that he had a “majestic and contagious smile few people have”.

From the next quote, you can see why the article about him was headlined: Poet, Hero, Tywanza Sanders.

“He was remembered for his artistry. A poem of his was read that spoke of social conscience and ended, “divided by color/So we are all trying to be equal.” It was titled “Tragedy.”

Mourners kept coming back to Sanders’ last moments. The family’s remembrance of him in the program said his last words were, “Where is my Aunt Susie. I’ve got to get to my Aunt Susie” as he reached for her.”

Tywanza was also entrepreneurial and hoped to establish a barber business. He already had his license and undergraduate business degree.  I am about to stitch the barber pole with the signature red, white and blue stripes.
img_2309Liz Ackert contributed some unbelievably beautiful labels recently and I will post about them this week.

On a completely pedestrian note, it continues to be unseasonably cold here. I keep thinking I can put my down-filled coats away and then finding myself wearing them. Today I added a wool scarf for my neck!

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more,
please visit the inspiring and generous master quilter, Jude Hill
  at her blog Spirit Cloth

Hearts for Charleston Quilt – Depayne Middleton Doctor

IMG_3241This is the back of the heart dedicated to Depayne Middleton Doctor. She was 49 when she was slain last June during a Bible study circle at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. She left behind four daughters. So many people came to her funeral, they had to set up televisions in an overflow room in order to accommodate another 150 people.
IMG_3243According to “The Post and Courier”: ‘Middleton Doctor retired in 2005 as Charleston County director of the Community Block Grant Program. Last year, she began working for Southern Wesleyan University as admissions coordinator for the school’s Charleston learning center.’

The same article quotes a friend saying of Middleton Doctor’s singing voice: “So angelic it could move the very depth of your heart… How do you describe an angel?”

I made this heart and it was meant to capture a very rich personality, with some of the expansiveness of the heavens (the dotted dark cloths look like night skies to me).

Find out more about this remarkable woman and the family she left behind here.

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To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more,
please visit the inspiring and generous master quilter, Jude Hill
  at her blog Spirit Cloth

Connecting 

 It is such a pleasure to stitch these Hearts for Charleston quilt squares together! It seems that there is an organic order. I’ve moved them around a little but the actual joining has easy.  Some line up. Some overlap. Most quilters added a healthy margin around the square which, as it turns out I’m including to some extent. This means that Mo’s square, which is exactly 10″ square, needed some additional cloth. Today I stitched it to a dark blue checked cordoroy that I cut from an old shirt. It won’t show much, but the color and checks will blend well.

 Tomorrow some friends come by for a first blessing of the squares. We will probably do this again in December.  

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more
(most of us are students of master stitcher/storyteller Jude Hill),
please visit “Spirit Cloth

Hearts for Charleston – Cindy 

This delicate and floating heart arrived from Washington state from one of my favorite fiber artists and bloggers — Cindy Monte (blog: handstories).

Instead of employing nine warp and weft strips, she used three and three. The result mimics a pieced nine patch and keeps the reference to the nine deceased Charlestonians going.  Her tiny stitches create such a lovely surface! Note that there are nine stars to commemorate each of the passed souls.

 The white “thread beads” (Jude Hill’s term) scatter along the appliquéd indigo “ribbon” as well as up and out of the center of the heart — looking to me like the Milky Way. Both the look of the dots and the feel of them somehow give me a sense of holy space and hope.

   I encourage you to go to “handstories” to read what Cindy wrote about the making of this square. Also search: “Harriet Tubman” to read about an inspiring, educational collaborative quilt Cindy made with young students.   

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more
(most of us are students of master stitcher/storyteller Jude Hill),
please visit “Spirit Cloth

 

Hearts for Charleston – Nancy

Nancy Erisman of California sent a cloth square for the “Hearts for Charleston” quilt and it is a beauty!!

It is dedicated to Cynthia Hurd who, like Nancy’s mother, was devoted to books (Ms. Hurd was a librarian, Nancy’s mother an English teacher, and then clerk in a bookstore). To represent the deceased’s love of books, Nancy wove in fabrics printed with book spines as well as a cloth printed with cursive words.

I really encourage you to read about the making of the square on Nancy’s blog: Pomegranate Trail, here (and also 5 or 6 posts before that), because the amount of love and care and remembrance of Ms. Cynthia Hurd that went into this square is very, very moving. The heart is surrounded by a red blanket stitch. Here’s what Nancy wrote about that:

I wrapped her heart in a blanket stitch to symbolize the loving care she gave to all of the patrons of the library…
to symbolize the love she gave to her friends, family and church community…
to symbolize the love those who knew her gave back to her…
to symbolize the loving care we should all give to each other…to symbolize the loving care that, because of this tragedy, is being shared with Cynthia’s family.

A good blanket stitch can say all of that. 

 

IMG_0904Of the stitches radiating outward from the heart, Nancy wrote:

The ripples grew and grew and grew.
They began close to the heart in red to symbolize both the love 
Cynthia shared and the love sent back to her.
They began as a heart shape.
Hugging close in.
As they radiated outward/inward, the heart shape morphed into a lumpy circle.
Years from now, way out in the edges of the ripple…
may Cynthia be remembered well.
The stitches turned blue to represent the community.
The community who knew her.
The community who loved her.
The community who only got to know her because of her untimely passing.
The community surrounding her, holding her in light and strength.

There are a lot of stitches.

This beautiful embellishment is attached to a button and looks exactly like the braids on the cover of “Americanah” (which I happen to be reading right now).   There are eight, to symbolize the other members of the congregation who passed. Nancy hopes that people will feel free to touch the braids and take comfort from them. Again, I share what Nancy wrote:

As I braided the eight, I considered the Black Lives Matter movement and I hoped these could be used as a physical source for comfort for those remembering 
Cynthia and the others…
for those deeply troubled by the current state of affairs.
It is comforting to hold them.

The central heart is patterned with a finger paint print, giving the heart depth and movement. In Nancy’s mind, it speaks to Ms. Hurd’s uniqueness: The finger paint fabric… was used to symbolize Cynthia’s beautiful uniqueness…to represent her, as individual as her fingerprint.

Nancy has added a series of shooting stars to its surface.


Like all the other squares, the reverse side is as beautiful as the front, albeit in a different way. It’s clear to me that when I attach the squares to each other, I shall have to leave the backs exposed, somehow.  Thank you, Nancy, for radiating such love with your words and your stitches!

Hearts for Charleston — Gillan

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Next up: Gillan Wang — a Newton, Mass. fiber artist who brings her talent and wit to a variety of styles. She took my year long class awhile back and has gone on to show in galleries and host several successful “Newton Open Studios”. Some of her work is functional, like fiber bowls, some is illustration-driven, while other pieces are more conceptual. Here is her website: ArtbyGillanIMG_2323

Each of the congregants is represented by beads spelling out their initials.  And, each set of initials is linked, by stitch, to a star. There’s “MT” for Myra Thompson and “SCS” for Sharonda Coleman Singleton.

IMG_2325Gillan chose commercial prints depicting celestial scenes, along with a deep blue silk, and some strips of indigo. Woven together, these strips create a night time sky. By stitching the initials of the deceased on these fabrics, she places them in heaven.

Only one small red heart speaks to the tragedy.

  She used a transparent star-patterned sheer for the primary heart. It is wonderful how we can see the underlying patterning! And there’s a stamped spiral on the right that seems to go to or from one of the background stars, continuing the theme of shooting stars. By surrounding the heart with bugle beads, Gillan added luster and definition.

All in all, I love the sparkly, star-studded surface. It speaks to expansion, healing, and a universe that is big enough to hold all our joy and pain. There is also a child-like quality to this piece that brings in a welcome sense of innocence. 
This square will catch the light in many varied ways and hopefully please the onlookers.

Thank you, Gillan!!

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”.