It is humbling to sit with another artist’s uncompleted work and try to ascertain not only what you could add to it, but how you could do it justice. These quilt squares from the late 1800s put me in exactly that position. How could a new audience delight in this treasure? Bits and pieces of my various finds and stashes started working their way on to my cutting table: antique keyholes, vintage hand-crocheted laces, post-war trims. I scavenged some scraps from the bottom of the sewing chest I inherited from my grandmother, still filled as it had been with her own stash. Each new find inspired the next. And then I knew these were going to be the most perfect ring pillows for a new generation. They are heirlooms before they even begin.
Before I even started, I knew my sewing machine was not going to get to play with these pieces. I needed to honor the seamstress who came before me, and to do that I needed to stitch these pillows entirely by hand. And so I did. And it was mesmerizing. Who was this woman who had so carefully pieced these squares? Was it by candlelight? Was she surrounded by her children? Or her grandchildren? My mind tumbled through so many characters and variations of a story that started such a very long time ago, one that is now part of my story, and one that will become part of another couple’s story. And that story and these heirlooms, I hope, will continue to handed down and retold for generations.