Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back To School

It's that time of year again--Back To School!  Love those words!  In fact, I love school so much, I became an elementary school teacher and taught first grade in the inner city for a number of years.  As a tribute to those years, would like to offer you a chance to travel back in time and revisit the quilts I made for various schools.  Come and join me in my time machine and we'll set the dial to February, 1995.....

For my last year in Camden, had each class contribute a crayoned block of what Black History meant to them:
Polaroids don't scan that well....
Everyone seemed very happy with this quilt!  It was intended it to be a present for H. B. Wilson Elementary School, but the Camden Board of Education liked it so much they hung it in their offices.  They even called the Courier Post!  The kids were so proud their efforts were in the newspaper!

When our oldest daughter entered first grade, I offered to make a thank you gift for her teacher.  It was her first year teaching and she did a wonderful job.  Each child made their own block and I assembled it.  She felt so appreciated!
Each of the children's names are quilted in the borders.
 For the second grade teacher, we made a quilt as a family for lovely Mrs. Pliner.  Time was short, so Paul helped me clip the seams on this rag-style quilt--I have the best husband ever!

Mrs. Pliner has a room in her house dedicated to school related items and this quilt hangs proudly there.  Every time she walks by, she remembers how much she is loved.

Third grade rolled around pretty quickly!  This year's teacher was also a farmer.  And a man.  Certainly did present something of a challenge making a masculine quilt, but didn't want him to feel left out.  Maybe his wife would appreciate it?
The star centers were the phrases he often used in his class.
The backing fabric was John Deere tractors--perfect for a farmer's quilt!
The following year, the room parents remembered my ability to quilt and recruited me to make another quilt for the teacher.  Unfortunately, we had a terrible car accident and my collar bone and foot were broken.....and the quilt wasn't quite done being quilted.  I asked a dear friend and exceptional quilter to finish the names in the border for me and she did a wonderful job.  In all the excitement, I'm not sure where the picture of the finished quilt is, but I still have the EQ design so you can get an idea of what it looked like:
Imagine fourth grade art work in the blank squares.

On a recent Back To School night, we went to visit this quilt and were horrified at what we saw...almost can't type it.....those of you with sensitive stomachs may want to look away for the next few spite of the hanging sleeve on the back of this quilt, the teacher cut two holes in the corners so she could hang it by two hooks. I was in total disbelief she would CUT holes in a quilt!  People really need to be educated in quilt care!

Imagine my surprise when the next year's room parents remembered I had made "thank you" quilts for teachers!!  This particular year was our older daughter's last year in elementary school, so I was willing to make what I thought would be one more quilt.  And, since our younger daughter started kindergarten that same year, I didn't want her teacher to feel left out, so I did one for her class, too.  My mantra that year was, "What was I thinking??"
The fifth grade quilt
The dedication blocks
Detail of our daughter's block.
The teacher seemed pleased to receive the quilt and the kids were so proud to present her with such a keepsake.

Here are some pictures of the kindergarten teacher's quilt:
The teacher just loved all things Disney!

Have to say, the kindergarten teacher gave the most enthusiastic reaction I've ever experienced when presenting a quilt!  She bounced up and down and hugged me so hard--it was wonderful to see someone so happy!

If we continue on our time travel adventure, fast forward to 2009.  A few years had passed and I took a break from making teacher quilts, mostly because many of the teachers already had one! One day, I received a phone call from the art teacher asking if I'd be willing to work with her to create a quilt for the district art festival.  Of course, I would!  At the time, I was also the president of Love Apple Quilters and those generous ladies were always looking for a community service project.

Money was limited, so I hand-dyed muslin and Love Apples contributed all the fruit and veggie fabric they could find.  The block was designed to allowed for all 100 students in the fifth grade to contribute their own fabric art.

Here is Marlton Elementary School's "Farm Fresh Fifth Grade":
A Love Apple donated her awesome quilting, but would prefer to remain anonymous--talented and generous!
A special group of fifth graders were selected to draw the alphabet letters and their accompanying fruit.  Turned out to be a great cultural experience, including tasting a variety of new foods.  Loved hearing the kids tell their parents about the quilt and showing off what they made.

Since the 2010 project went so well and our youngest daughter was in fifth grade, it was suggested I would also make the 2011 district art project.  Mrs. Gordon  decided our project would be influenced by the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and the students did a fantastic job!
"Fifth Grade Fantasy Flowers"
Again, the budget was tight, so I hand-dyed the muslin, but that allowed for custom colors.  The kids used paintsticks to achieve these fantastic fantasy flowers.

Well, our faithful time machine has brought us back to the present.  Hope you've enjoyed our little journey! I've never seen all these quilts together and am amazed at how much my style has changed and grown over the last sixteen years.  Wonder what the next sixteen will bring?

As a quilter, please consider sharing your artistic endeavors with as many children as possible--they are the quilters of the future!

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