I was so touched some months ago when, Sharon, my former professor of textile art, contacted me to make three memorial quilts to honor her husband, Michael. Two were to be made for Michaels’ son and daughter, and one for Sharon. There’s a certain feeling of having “arrived” when a mentor asks a former student to create such a personal object – it was quite exciting for me, not to mention a bit daunting.
Michael began a career as a public interest attorney at San Francisco Legal Assistance and moved to Oregon in 1974 to work for Legal Aid as Director of Litigation. In 1990 he was appointed a trial court judge in Multnomah County and worked there until his retirement in 2011. He was known as a brilliant, compassionate and fair judge. For many years he and his wife, Sharon, worked their Newfoundland dogs in the sporting events of Water Rescue, Draft carting, Tracking and Obedience. He was fascinated by the aquatic world and traveled to far flung locations for scuba diving with his son – places like the Yucatan, Mexico, Raja Ampat, Palau, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. He also loved to travel, and his international adventures with Sharon included visits to the former Soviet Union, Lapland, Italy, France, England, Scotland, China, India, Jordan, Guatemala, and Mexico in addition to his scuba travels.
When I first spoke with Sharon, she was almost apologetic when she told me that in a fit of grief, she had given away all of Michael’s clothing except for his judge’s robes and a single necktie. I told her from my experience with other clients, that was not an uncommon response for a grieving person. The good thing is that she kept the items that were an integral part of Michael’s life.
Here is the robe I used for all three quilts.
Sharon, always attentive to detail, was particularly keen on somehow having a reference to these pleats somewhere in the quilts.
In addition, there were two robes that each had Michael’s initials monogrammed just below the neckline. Sharon asked that those embroideries be incorporated into the quilts for Michael’s children.
Michael’s necktie that he wore for special occasions needed to be used in all three quilts, so I had to be thoughtful as to how I divided it up.
Sharon decided that since she was not interested in a completely black quilt, we would add an array of grays, keeping the palette largely monochromatic, save for the bit of color in the tie.
She chose my Genevieve quilt pattern for all three quilts, but we changed the color placement of the squares for each one to individualize them.
Each quilt got a section of the tie as the centerpiece, framed by a pleated section of the robe.
The elegance of this quilt began to really emerge when everything was pieced together.
Here is the final quilt for Michael’s daughter, Andrea. The embroidered monogram is at the lower right corner.
The detail shows the water-themed quilting, a nod to Michael’s love of water and scuba diving.
I began Michael’s son, Jacobus’ quilt on a beautiful sunny day.
His centerpiece included a horse and rider.
The monogram embroidery was incorporated into a block.
Here is Jacobus’ final quilt, followed by a detail.
Sharon opted for a smaller wall-hanging that would fit on the wall of her study.
Here is Sharon’s final quilt.
Sharon’s centerpiece contains a man with two dogs, a reference to their beloved Newfoundlands.
These quilts were a lovely tribute to a man dedicated to the pursuit of justice.