BLOG-The Uncut Cloth
- Published: June 9, 2012
My husband gave keen insight into our relationship recently: I am the idea person; he executes. It is not unusual for me to buy the ingredients for a meal and for him to cook. The potential of a well-stocked pantry is rich, and on occasion I prove indecisive when the time comes to commit to the one meal out of the far range of possibilities. Ideas can overwhelm in other favorite past times too. Where should I plant the seed? How might I cut the fabric? Choices abound, and the muse flirts, flits, and confounds the mind from making that first decisive cut. Two months ago, I took on the responsibility of commissioning a banner to commemorate the ordination of our pastor. Pastor Sherri Blackwell grew up in Yellow Springs, and she remembers playing on the porch right across from the parsonage. Her path to ministry came after a youth well spent but restless. Her story is a testament to patience and open-hearted meditation, and she readily selected Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” as the best summation of that story.
Supplied with the bible verse and the dimensions of the piece, I opened several conversations on the banner’s construction, but the final design eluded us for a solid month. What exactly was the subject? The answer crystalized at Sunday coffee hour as a woman returning to the church confided in me the solace and inspiration she often finds in the sanctuary. It is a graceful open space adorned on three sides by stain glass windows. At one point, she said to me, “You know, that window is Pastor Sherri’s favorite.” I turned and looked to the west window. It depicted Jesus calming a stormy sky, and I could almost hear him speak “be still”.
At home, I opened up my store of fabrics. A year before, I added several finds from the Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH. As I brought out the bold graphics and japanese patterns full of promise, I was struck by how well their color and moods fit the needs of the project. What’s more, I loved these fabrics and now had a project worthy of them. A highly enjoyable return trip to Waynesville added fabrics for the fluffy clouds, robe, and marble columns. My five year old daughter went with me, and she happily flitted about the colorful bolts of material while I made my selections. I imagined her as entranced as I had been accompanying my mother and grandmothers on trips to the upstair rooms at the old five and dime J.J. Newberry’s.
Once home again, I set about designing the quilt. My first goal was to select fabrics to replace each panel from the stain glass. I set up a studio and folded the fabrics over a hanger in a fixed position from a camera. This setup allowed me to take a picture capturing each pattern to the same scale.
Next I ported a picture of the original stain glass window into Adobe Photoshop and used the crop tool to capture the window in proper perspective and to the scale of the banner: 3 feet wide by 5 feet high. I used the Quick Selection Tool to select a stain glass panel. Once a panel was selected, I copied the shape into a new layer and used a clipping mask to fill the shape using a picture of a fabric. (I heart Photoshop.)
Since I knew the scale of the fabrics, not only could I select the appropriate pattern for each panel but I could play with the position of graphics in the proper scale.
The design was rough but successful. It gave me and my compatriots the blueprint to proceed. I still needed help cutting the fabrics and machine sewing them together. Luckily, my friends Carol and Laura proved hardy souls full of conviction and skill, and in no time the quilt took shape. I got the joy of the hand work piecing together the figure of Jesus and embroidering the scripture.
Friday, I sat in the sunporch of my neighbor Lisa Wolters, a local artisan. She prepared for this Saturday’s street fair as I embroidered the words “Be Still”. The weather was beautiful and we reflected on our fellow local artisans also hard at work prepping their wares for the big event. For the first time, I shared a bond though my deadline was Sunday not Saturday, and I greatly admire the resourcefulness and fortitude it takes to forge such surprising, wonderful creations of interest to so many.
My five year old daughter was on hand to help me pull the needle through the embroidery. She is on the cusp reading still relying more on memory rather than comprehension. Taking in the work, she suddenly said to me, “It reads, ‘Be patient’. I considered and replied, “Yes, you’re right.” On Sunday, as we present the banner for her ordination ceremony, our pastor will get a taste of what patience, faith, and fortitude have brought her. Congratulations at reaching this major milestone in a life full of promise!