At the end of March I was asked to make a retirement gift for the head Bosswoman in my office. The theme we decided on was Beginnings, a publication we put out every year that is chock full of writing by adult students within Ohio's ABLE program. It is my most favorite thing my office does and it really has become a grand celebration. Our head Bosswoman speaks every year at the conference about the importance of the day and how proud she is of the work the authors put into it. I finally was able to attend this year's conference and spent the entire day all teary-eyed. The authors show up with friends, family and their teachers and are presented with certificates and bound copies of that year's publication of selected authors and artists. It's a really incredible event.
I didn't hesitate on accepting the challenge of the gift although I was nervous because I am always harsh on my own work and worried that it wouldn't be good enough. I had an idea immediately and set to work sketching it up. The design became more gridded than I had first imagined. I wanted to use the book covers and the freeform idea I originally had would have overwhelmed the covers. I wanted those to shine. But I also needed something more than just the cover.
When I think I the publication I think of growth. Many of the authors submit writings over the course of years. With each acceptance the student learns and grows. You can see that in their writing. I decided on a simplistic flower that would add color but not detract too much from the publication covers that would be layered on top. And I wanted to use blue because that is the "office color". And I would have to use batiks and hand-dyed fabric because they are the fabrics I love the most.
The boy and I headed to the fabric shop on an errand day and he helped me choose the green of the leaves and the blue for the border and binding. The covers I created by using the photocopy transfer technique I learned in school. I had originally decided to use those iron-on things but past experience taught me that they just would not do. I'd done the technique in the past using black and white photocopies but never color. When I tested color I found it was much more intense and durable than those iron-on transfers.
There were hours upon hours of applique and thread sketching involved. Upwards of 60 hours. I spent a total of 81.5 hours on the quilt and about 60 of those were just on those applique bits. The back of the quilt is just white with two quilt labels, one with the office logo and "with love from the staff" and the other with the reason for the quilt and my name/location/year. And I braved running out of time and hand-stitched the binding onto the back instead of machine-stitching it like I was considering.
I wish I'd have hung the quilt better for the photo. The boy is still learning how to photograph quilts. He's more of a nature photographer so he's having to learn new techniques to get decent inside shots of quilts. So here it is... my big project that I spent about 6 weeks on. It really isn't as crooked as it appears in the photo. If I ever get around to it I will crop down some of the cover pieces because there is so much work done to each that doesn't really show up in the photo as a whole.
I learned sooooooooo much making this quilt. It was my first attempt at whole cloth with applique (the center white piece is whole cloth anyway). This makes gift #5 that I have made for coworkers. Two baby quilts, two retirement gifts and one going-away gift. I seriously love my coworkers. The joke is that no one ever really leaves the office and it is true. People just can't say goodbye entirely and still help out in some way with various projects we have going on. I'm very fortunate in the job I have. It really is like a second family there. And I really miss being in the same office with them since I work from home in another state.