In Part 2, Milly came onto the scene, meeting the children and Gloria. She accepted the “challenge” – as she called it – of quilting a mural which would become a Peace Quilt. Gloria started the ball rolling with her own blankie, actually her personal Peace Quilt.
When the sketch was finished and children had decided that the quilt would be ‘just so’, they spent time coloring their design. This solidified their images of Peace and reinforced how they wanted the quilt to look. It was coming to life.
Milly came to school every week with fabrics. They were gorgeous! I asked her if she had purchased them at JoAnne Fabrics. Her silence was deafening. I compare this faux pas to asking a lady wearing an original Oscar de la Renta if she got her dress at K-Mart. Milly was kind, she understood. Each visit we spread out the sketch on a big table. Children came to find a favorite part of the sketch and pick what they felt was the perfect fabric for that part.
Lizzie was especially interested in the horse and wanted blue fabric. I smiled a big smile. Here’s why:
This was Lizzie’s second year in my classroom. Children often spend two years with me as it is a full day, multiage class. Lizzie rides horses on her farm. She adores horses. More importantly, the year before when we prepared for our annual Art Show, Lizzie was struck with the painting Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc. She worked at her masterpiece over and over- five times to be exact. By the time she finished the paint was so thick and heavy I was worried it would fall off the wall at the art show.
Can you now imagine the thrill that Lizzie felt when she picked out ‘just the right blue’ fabric? I did! And, I told Milly about the art piece while we watched Lizzie. Each child had a similar story, or a reason. Milly was the provider of the feast, and children came to the table to find their favorite foods. It was that simple. Milly ‘got it’.
As the quilt progressed each week, Gloria would pop in and check things out.
When Milly finished the quilt she asked me about the writing and lettering, how I wanted to say PEACE. I hadn’t thought about that, I was so consumed with each part of the quilt. Milly was way ahead of me, she was looking at the forest while I had been looking at the trees. I said, “Milly, you decide.” And she did:
She arrived at my house, held up the finished front of the quilt… and I burst into tears. I never cry, but my tears came out like a flood when I saw this magnificent work of art. Did you know that Milly only sews by hand? She never uses a sewing machine. That means when she began to quilt this fabric, she did so stitch by stitch. Many weeks went by as she came to school and let the children watch her sew. They were mesmerized. It seemed as though watching each stitch connect their special ideas made the quilt all the more important.
Our next step while Milly quilted was to make a book, a Peace Poetry book. We took all of the children’s ideas and put them into a rhyme:
A dog and a cat
A heart on a tree
Autumn leaves falling into the sea.
Stars and a rainbow
Triangles of white
Chicks and flowers, peeping and bright
Puppies and kittens
A cow and a moon
A big bright star, a truck that goes vroom
A horse and duckies
A heart that is red
The color of yellow, peaceful thoughts in my head.
When the quilt was finished there was a big ‘todo’ in town. The newspaper came to do an interview and get photos. The library wanted to hang the quilt for a while. This was big!
Does the quilt look familiar to you? I hope so – it is my blog photo!
When the dust settled I told ‘the world’ of this remarkable quilt, including sending an email to the National Liberty Museum. I thought they might enjoy knowing all that had transpired since we recreated their Peace Portal. Their reply was not at all what I expected, and completely changed the course of events. Frankly, it was a shock. Just when I thought this was finished, that our quilting adventure was at an end, I was so wrong. Little did I know what was about to happen was the beginning. Stay tuned for Part 4.