Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Relief Sale Quilts: The Postcard Quilt

front of postcard quilt “The Postcard Quilt” (82”x66”) Created by: members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild Coordinated by: Renske Helmuth
Auctioned for: $7,200 in May 2009
The fun of a postcard collection is seeing the whole world at a glance. This quilt is, in fact, a collection of fabric postcards: real cards that have been written on, stamped and sent through the mail, from all corners of the globe.
Members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild volunteered to make the 4"x6" cards that would be the basis of the quilt. We began with two workshops, during which participants were each asked to make one card each that reflected an aspect of the MCC's work. The ladies responded enthusiastically, and I was able to deliver a total of 81 cards to the local MCC office in Kitchener. From there, the cards were forwarded to the head office in Akron.
In a short note, I'd explained the project and asked if the postcards could be distributed among MCC volunteers around the world. My hope was that each card would return in the mail with a message written on the back, and bearing the stamp of the country it was being sent from (I'd suggested using extra glue). Later, I learned that the Akron office staff had spent considerable time sorting the cards and matching them to appropriate countries.
Over the next 5 months we received 54 cards back, all postmarked, in good condition and with the stamps firmly attached: enough cards to combine into a quilt! For me it was important that both sides of the cards were visible. This caused a few sleepless nights, but finally the cards were sewn together on both sides with double bias tape. Row by row, they were attached to the center piece. back of postcard quilt
The centre was compromised of – what else? – a Trip-Around-The-World block pattern, over which an image of the globe was appliqu├ęd. This whole section was hand quilted. For the border, I pieced more Trip-Around-The-World strips, adding Mariner's Compasses in the corners. The completed borders were attached, then hand-quilted. With a sigh of relief, we attached the binding. What an amazing journey!
Below, close-ups of some of the postcard fronts and backs.
rwandacard DSC_0267
samplefront DSC_0270
DSC_0265 DSC_0271
DSC_0280 fishcard
chinaredcard DSC_0281
We were delighted when the quilt was auctioned for $7,200 in May 2009, at the Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg, Ontario.
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Relief Sale Quilts: "A Bird's Eye View"

A Bird's Eye View: Interpreting the Aerial Photography of Carl Hiebert
(84" x 92")
Group Quilt by members of the Waterloo County Quilter's Guild and the Listowel Mennonite Church.
Coordinated by Renske Helmuth.
Based on photographs by Carl Heibert.

Auctioned for: $11,100 in May 2006

After the amazing success of the "Kaleidoscope" quilt, it took a long time to come up with another idea for a group quilt. But inspiration hit when I received the flyer for the 2005 Grand National Quilt Show: the theme was "airborne". I remembered looking through the books by photographer Carl Hiebert -- beautiful pictures taken from the sky in his ultralight plane. Hmm.

Well, the first step was to get permission from Carl, but that did not prove to be a problem: he thought it would be a very worthwhile project. For the next few months, I tried to come up with ways to make it work; once the project started, it went very well.

In October 2004, I introduced the project concept at the Waterloo County Quilters Guild, and there was lots of interest. The following month, I handed out instruction sheets, and each participant had to select a specific photograph to work from: this way, I was sure to get no repeats. I offered a "workshop" time for any participants who wanted help with their block; by the January 2005 guild meeting, 38 blocks were handed in.

In the last week of January, two friends from the guild -- Carol Huehn and Rosemary Plummer -- came over, and we decided on a layout. Twenty-eight blocks were chosen for the quilt. Rosemary took the blocks home and sewed them together. The remaining blocks were set aside; they would be used later to make a second quilt. A few of the blocks are shown below, including wetlands, a farmed field, and an orchard in winter:

birdblockblue_smaller birdblockfields_smaller
birdblocklaundry_smaller birdblocksnowtrees_smaller2
birdblockpitower_smaller birdblockriver_smaller

Esther Snider and I marked the quilt in Listowel, and by the middle of February it was ready for quilting. Members of the guild and church quilted from Monday till Thursday. By the end of the month the binding was sewn on and the label was attached and pictures were taken for entry in the Grand National Show. Whew!

In March, the quilt was juried into the Grand National Show in Kitchener, Ontario. After the show, I took the quilt to the quilt committee of the Relief Sale; it toured churches and quilt shows until May 2006, when it was auctioned at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and Quilt Auction. It was purchased by Carl Hiebert himself! We raised $11,100 for world relief efforts, and the quilt found a fitting home.
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Relief Sale Quilts: The Kaleidoscope of Nations

It can be difficult coming up with interesting ideas for group quilts. I began this project only with the concept of using fabrics from around the world. I asked the local MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) office if a call could go out to their worldwide volunteers, requesting a 1/2 meter of locally used fabric from each country. At that time I had no idea what I would do with this fabric.

Six months later I received a large box, containing 73 unique fabrics from 40 countries! After much thought, I came up with the idea of the "doll quilt". With help of 72 women from the quilt guild and my church, this quilt was put together in less than 6 months during the winter of 2001-2002.

“The Kaleidoscope of Nations”

Made by members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild and Listowel Mennonite Church.

Coordinated by Renske Helmuth.

Various piecing techniques; hand quilted.

Auctioned for: $44,000 in May 2003.

Named "Kaleidoscope of Nations", our quilt received the prize for the best guild quilt at the Ontario Juried Show, and later received the viewer's choice award. Below are close-up views of the 40 dolls that circled the quilt.

albania copy
bosnia copy
botswana copy
brazil copy
cambodia copy
Canada (Labrador)
china copy
congo copy
croatia copy
elsalvador copy
El Salvador
eqypt copy
ethiopia copy
germany copy
guatemala copy
honduras copy
india copy
indonesia copy
iraq copy
jordan copy
laos copy
mexico copy
mozambique copy
nepal copy
nigeria copy
palestine copy
philipines copy
sudan copy
tanzania copy
thailand copy
uganda copy
ukraine copy
usa copy
vietnam copy
zambia copy

zimbabwe copy

"Kaleidoscope" was auctioned at the Ontario Relief Sale in 2003 for a record-breaking $44,000!

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