Starting today, and in the months to come, I will be sharing what I am calling my Quilt Stories, the ideas, process, and client responses that informed many of my Commemorative Quilt projects. It has been a wonderful way to reconnect with past clients and to inform those who would like to gain a deeper understanding of what I bring to my work. Enjoy!
“Joan was our mother, a strong, hard-working & generous Bermudian lady who loved her family & friends. She enjoyed giving to them and to the entire community her time, talents, and service. She loved to cook and garden and enjoyed 85 years of a full, productive life after leaving school to work at age 12. Joan was an independent woman, strong and determined; yet resilient and open to the demands of societal change. Down-to-earth, devoid of “airs”, she had no fashionista aspirations (I was so proud, growing up, that ours was the only mother to go to work in shorts!). Still, she enjoyed dressing in the unique and attractive manner Bermuda life encourages: pretty Liberty prints, bright plaids, island motifs, and of course, her coral-orange Pink Lady uniform!”
These are the words that Sheila and her sister, Rosemarie, used to describe their mother, Joan, who died in 2011. Not long after that, Sheila contacted me to commission a set of two memorial quilts: one for her and one for her sister. We began working together to create two separate, but related wall quilts, made out of Joan’s clothes. Sheila liked the Small Squares quilt pattern that she saw on my website, so we decided to make both quilts using that pattern, but with two separate groups of garments.
Sheila was aided by a friend to help her sort through her mother’s clothes, an overwhelming and emotional process. The one common garment to be used in both quilts was the one that seemed to most represent Joan: her pink hospital uniform that she wore for over 30 years as a volunteer.
From what Sheila had told me, Joan was a strong, independent spirit with lots of energy, so as I began to lay out the small squares of fabric for each quilt, it was important to create a visual center that reflected that vivacity. Rosemarie’s quilt center became a spiral, and Sheila’s quilt center, a radiant orb. Both centers were made primarily with Joan’s Pink Lady uniform. There was enough fabric left to create borders for both quilts.
Sheila waited until the first anniversary of Joan’s death near Easter to give Rosemarie her quilt in a surprise unveiling with family and friends.
“Lori has deftly woven together fragments to reassemble the “stuff” of Joan’s life, spinning her stories…helping us move forward with courage, hope and inspiration.” – Rosemarie
“I see my quilt everyday and enjoy the warm, wonderful memories it conjures up. My eye always goes to the Pink Lady uniform patches first, and then to the familiar florals, plaids and Liberty prints which our mother loved.” – Sheila