Category Archives: community

Community {Part III – Giving Back}

Giving back to one’s community, to me, is the most important things you can do for your community. There are lots of was to give back to your community and it does not always involve money.

Last year, North Carolina went through a couple of terrible hurricanes that left areas devastated. Some folks are still without homes and belongings. As this is in my backyard I felt compelled to contribute in some way. I have donated several clothes, kitchenware and bedding already. My favorite contributions though, that I recently finished, are  two quilts that were donated to Carolina Hurricane Quilt Project.

The first project is using Denyse Schmidt’s Ocean Wave quilt pattern. I started with a 100 charm pack of various Kaffe Fassett fabrics, and 3 solid charm packs that I had received in conference goodies. The HST laid out beside each other were a little saturated for me so the extra negative space in the ocean waves pattern was perfect. I am not a huge fan of the prints but I loved how it turned out. I know it will be treasured by its new owner too.

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The other quilt was an UFO that I had lying around for a couple of years. It was originally designed for a back but I decided it was better as a quilt top. I made it slightly larger by adding blue border. I think it would be such a fun kids quilt.

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Both quilts were quilted by Cary Quilting Company which is also the place to drop off and donate quilts for #Carolinahurricanequiltproject.

There are many groups that you can join that are all about giving quilts to charity.

Making quilts or quilt blocks for quilts to donate are one way to give back to your community, however there are many other ways to give back as well. Here are other some ideas for thought:

Volunteer

One of the things I hear from several guilds and groups is how hard it is to get volunteers. Time is one of the easiest things you can give to your community, even if its just an hour here or there. Opportunities with you group or guild could include:

  • An event – manning a booth or for setup / take down
  • Bringing refreshments
  • Organizing an activity – like a swap
  • Join a committee or a board

One of my favorite things to do is to volunteer for events that nurture other people’s interest in the activity that  I love (in this case, quilting). For example, this weekend, the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild hosted a booth at the NC Museum of History to support the Quilt Speak Exhibit. The booth highlighted Modern Quilting and had a couple of machines and fabric there, so folks (the public) can make an improvisation block. A way of learning some modern quilting techniques and promoting participation, a great conduit for community interaction. We even had people trying sewing for the first time.

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Education Opportunities

Education is so important in today’s societies. Art and hand skills are missing in many schools today, and I think people are missing the ability to express themselves, become creative thinkers, or see | understand other views. Some options here include volunteering at your local schools (or your kids school), or at local community centers, Local guilds or art centers.

For any of these think about:

  • A talk you could do (also gives you a chance for public speaking)
  • A Program (like a tutorial of a technique)
  • Join a group that supports outreach programs to schools or teens
  • Or run an after school program at your local school.

I am hoping over the next year to either help out with an existing outreach program or start one for kids and teens. I would like to teach sewing basics, quilting basics and design elements. I will let you know how this goes.

Donations

Don’t forget many art programs are working on grants. If you have left over supplies that you don’t know what to do with, think about donating it to an art program. I donate everything from instructional or art books, glue, paper, pens, fabric, sewing notions etc.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask what the organization needs as they may have specific program in mind. For example, one group needed a couple of Gees Bend books as they were studying them that year.

Those were my ideas and things I have tried. I would love to hear how you give back. I am always looking for new opportunities and ways to give back or participate in my community.

Other Community Posts in this series:
Community {Introduction – Part I}
Community {Group Activity – Part II}

 

 

 

 

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Community {Part II – Group Activity}

Part II of my community posts is about how you can foster your community with your own group activity, in this case a traveling quilt.  This past year, I had the amazing pleasure to work with Melanie, Valerie, Melissa, Jen, and Sarah in a traveling quilt group. I knew all these wonderful people before we formed this group and knew that we had similarities and an interest in modern quilting. I think its important to work with a group of people you know and and have common things like style, fabric choice and techniques.

Traveling Quilt Concept

How the traveling quilt group worked….well,  we each created a starter kit that described a theme and what we wanted to receive. This kit included:

  • A journal that described the theme, color palette, styles or techniques you wanted. Each person was to add their thoughts around what they created to the journal as it travelled.
  • A “starter” which could be a block or a row in the theme and colors that you chose, so that the person can have an example to work with.
  • Some additional fabric to work with, though folks could add their own as they created their work.
  • Some included a small gift but it was not mandatory.

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Each person (as there were six of us) had two months to add to the quilt. We knew life would get in the way so timings were flexible. Note though, communication was important and if you were late you needed to let folks know where you were up to and how late were you going to be.

Let me take you through a year in our traveling quilt experience (also check out #travelingstitches2018 for more progress shops by others in the group)

My Theme

So before we talk about my theme and project let me give you a little bit of an introduction to me, which I seldom share.

Many of you know I grew up in New Zealand, but I really have not shared my experiences of growing up. My parents were very young when I was born (Mum 18, Dad about to turn 21). They were just starting out, and their first house was in South Auckland, Papatoetoe. I loved growing up in Papatoetoe, and appreciated the education I got, the friends that I made and the opportunities extended to me (Schools: Papatoetoe South Primary, Kedgley Intermediate and Aorere College). What I didn’t realize, until I moved away from New Zealand, is what an amazing multi-cultural experience I was exposed too growing up here. To me this was just the community I belonged to and was welcomed into, it was Whānau. Exposure to the arts of each of the cultures – Maori, Samoan, Raratongan, Tongan, and Fijian has definitely influenced my design and quilting styles.

So what was my theme for my traveling project – was on Maori design. My goal choosing this theme was to share a little bit of my home with everyone and introduce them to a new language, culture and design aesthetic. Aspects that needed to be incorporated in their designs: geometry, black+white+splash of red, no improvisation.

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My starter blocks were of a triangular design 60″ long representing a Tukutuku panel from a wharenui (Meeting house) and a design inspired by a Moko (tattoo).

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After a year, you get back all your blocks. I was so impressed, everyone did an amazing job. I laid out all the blocks and worked on the final design for the top. This process was extremely emotional but helped me work through a lot of feelings around the Christchurch terrorist attack, that had occurred 3 days previously.
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Melissa

Melissa’s theme “Ode to the Rhombus”, was inspired by Josef Albers Ode to the Square and his interaction of color. She chose an amazing color palette mostly greens with some dark blues. It was such a fun project, I immediately had a plan and inspiredly our bathroom fan.

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With the blocks, I explored the impact on how colors interact with each other and enjoyed the discoveries along the way.

Melanie

Melanie’s concept was about interpretation. She provided everyone with the same instructions, but how you interpreted them was really up to you. At the time of reading the instructions, I was feeling like exploring maximalism within minimalism. Yes, my blocks are the ones where the white strips appear very wide (chunky). By using just black and white you could really see how interpretation played such a large role. At this point, Melanie, Melissa and I had contributed blocks.

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Jen

Jen’s project was one of the most challenging for me. She wanted us to investigate who we are and design blocks thinking about your soul and expression…..and using a yellow only palette!! As I thought about this over a course of a couple of weeks, two ideas emerged. One, that I wear my heart on my sleeve (I could never play poker). This idea was represented by having the seams visible (middle bottom block).

The second idea started with the fact I am a true introvert, most people just don’t realize it. The window block on the right, has the window frame (white) disappearing into the background….and that is so me in a group setting, especially with people I don’t know or a large group. More importantly, while making this block, I realized that I do like being in the background.

Valerie

Strips in navy, white and pops of yellow was Valerie’s theme. I played with a log cabin them and deconstructed it in a few different ways to come up with these blocks.

Choosing the navy as the negative space, I thought was important to the overall balance of the blocks that had come before me (Valerie, Jen, Melanie, and Melissa).  Here is what all the blocks looked like when I passed it off to Sarah – the lucky last to add to Valerie’s quilt.

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Sarah

Lastly, I got to add to Sarah’s quilt. Her theme was outdoor open spaces in the west and she talked about how inspired she was by Utah, Arizona etc. As I had just spent a week at the National Parks in Utah, I did not have problems coming up with inspiration.

The cairns block on the left is appliquéd and inspired by Leon Polk Smith’s work. The mountain block (right), I really wanted to added layers to the foreground to represent the soil or the modified vegetation. I thought this tied in Sarah’s job as an archeologist.

Fostering community with Group projects

This was such a fun activity and I can highly recommend it, but choose your participants carefully. Other ideas for group projects:

  • Choose a theme, and color palette, and just have folks send blocks to you instead of making it a traveling quilt or round robin like activity.
  • Organize a group to explore concepts with each other fostering feedback etc.; Quilt Design a Day for example (more on this later)
  • Charity quilts – making charity quilts for a common cause always pull people together.
  • Sew-ins or quilting bees or retreats with friends or guild members (more to come on this as well)
  • Instagram events like quilt alongs, or daily practice activities (#100days)

Also, don’t forget fostering your community does not always have to be sewing related. Try setting up just social events with your quilting community:

  • A potluck lunch or dinner.
  • Picnic at a local park with family included.
  • Visit an exhibit together at a museum, quilt show or state fair.
  • Movie night, this maybe at a local outdoor event, or rent “How to make an American Quilt” (still with a quilt theme).
  • Met at a local bar, restaurant or cafe.
  • Try other art activities together like pottery or art+wine.

These are just some ideas I have tried. What have you all tried to do as a group to foster your quilty community?

Community Posts:
Community Introduction – Part I

Community {Part I}

Sorry for the leave of absence. No excuses here, just life getting busy. I come back with a conversation dear to my heart, that I want to explore more with you all. Community.

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Quilting has provided me with an amazing community which I did not have before. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of women around me who I call friends. They are there to listen, offer support and laugh or cry. These women are not just local to me but are also people I met virtually online.

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Isn’t it funny how some things have changed but others have not. Quilting not only has bought me my community but think of the quilting bees/circles of women who have come before us who also found community. You can easily find photos of women, in the past, sitting on front porches hand stitching and making quilts. It has been such an iconic past-time that a movie was made about it “How to make an American Quilt” (based on a book by Whitney Otto), then more recently, finding community via quilting has been the center of Frances O’Roark Dowell’s audio book (Quilt Fiction podcast) “Friendship Album 1933”.

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Looking back has made me ask questions about my experiences such as;

How did I become part of community and how did it start?
What have I contributed to the community? What can I do to give back?
What makes community strong and keep them going?

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I don’t have all the answers yet (and likely never will) but over the next few posts I would love to explore and share my own community experiences with you all. Also, I would love to hear from you all about your own experiences. Let’s explore similarities, how did you find your community, share things that worked for your group, things that didn’t work out (without it being at someone’s expense – always be nice) or are you still looking for your people?