Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Thankful Tree - The Story of a Quilt

 For the second year in a row, Don and I spent a "Christmas Craft" day with the second graders at Otter Lake Elementary School in White Bear Lake, MN, where our son John teaches.
I'm not sure who was more excited...the kids, having special guests...or me...getting to teach the kids how everything is better with GLITTER!
While wooden frames were being painted and embellished with glitter and bling, we set up a photo booth where the kids could dress up with an array of silly hats, glasses and other fun props.  A quick trip to the local one hour photo processing store and our gifts for parents were complete!
Once the paint and supplies were put away and desks were clean again (Let's use the word clean loosely matter how good their janitor is...I'd be willing to bet there's still glitter in the carpet!) we were ready to move on to our second project.
When planning our craft day, I contemplated having the kids draw pictures for a deployed soldier, who happens to be the son of a lovely quilter friend of mine.  As a military mom myself, I know firsthand just how hard those deployments heart knows exactly what my friends heart is feeling.  I also know just how much our soldiers love knowing that they are appreciated and getting mail from "home"!
Somewhere in that line of thought came this fleeting question....
"What if I had them draw those pictures on fabric?"
Well, for a quilter...that's all it takes, my friends.
 A quilt was born.
The pictures drawn were to say "Thank You" to this soldier for his service.
Here's a few of those very special drawings.

Sitting on my living room floor the next day, I spread out all of the drawings to see if I could come up with a design for the quilt.  It was then I realized that I hadn't been specific with the kids about creating a vertical or horizontal drawing.  Oops!  That was going to cause a problem, right?
Apparently not.  Within minutes, my quilt began to take a very specific shape.
I could hardly wait to get this quilt together...and I'm pretty sure the top was complete by the end of that day.  The machine quilting took just a bit longer.
The  finished quilt....we've named The Thankful Tree. 
A trees roots run deep, just like the love we have for our family, our faith and our country
close ups on the quilting
My intent was to return to Otter Lake Elementary School so that we could take a photo of the second graders with the quilt before we sent it off to our soldier. Sadly, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have been trying to one up each other on a daily basis here in the Midwest, and it seemed like it just wasn't going to happen before Spring... I really wanted to get this quilt in the mail.
 So disappointing.
And then last Friday, in my basement studio, the second graders and I were able to chat via FaceTime.  By holding up my Iphone on my end...and John connecting the Ipad in the classroom so that it projected on to the screen in the front of the class.... I was able to show them the finished quilt.  They were each able to identify the drawings they had created and to see the piecing and machine quilting that I had done to complete our project. 
 It gets better.... 
Remember that group photo that I wanted so badly to take?
It Happened!!!!!
Not quite like I had imagined...but as they saying goes...where there's a will...there's a way.
Students, Teacher, Quilt, Me!
As soon as we ended our FaceTime chat, this quilt was boxed up and taken to the Post Office and is now on it's way to our soldier.
So excited for our soldier to receive this very special care package!