Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
Kristen Ellsworth Applebee was my student in 7th and 8th grade home economics, and she participated in my after school gingerbread house building. She is second in a family of 6, each of whom is remarkable, kind, creative former students. Their mother was soon to become my teaching partner, and because we were so different, we made a good team that was a real benefit to our students. Eventually, I was made an honorary Aunt and have been connected to the family ever since.
cKristen now teaches Art at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. Did you catch that? She teaches Art to visually impaired students! That statement alone is mind-boggling, but if you check out Kristen's Blog you will be really impressed. It is an excellent resource for any art teacher, parent, or crafter.
So, I was not surprised to hear she was selected in the top 10 for Georgia Teacher of the Year (GTOY) and was later chosen as National 2019 Outstanding Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments! Woohoo! As soon as I heard about the GTOY, I headed to the grocery store and filled my cart with our native foods; Hershey, Dove and Wilbur chocolate. When I realized that by the time it got to her in Georgia in May, it would be a delicious puddle, back on the shelf it went and I settled on making her piece of stained glass instead.
On her blog, I found two pieces of student artwork that would translate to stained glass well. Of course, I asked Kristen if she would like me to do this and which would she prefer. Her response was, "Yes, please!" and she chose the butterfly. I was excited about the challenge of the butterfly, but when she explained that it was a group project and done to honor a student who had passed away, it seemed a perfect way to honor her dedication to her craft. She also discussed the size she wanted because, of course, she wanted to hang it in her classroom.
Design in hand, I headed to Rainbow Vision Stained Glass in Harrisburg. Lynn, the owner, is always so helpful, but when I explained what I was doing, she went above and beyond. She gave me a one and half hour master class on how to design a stained glass piece. Her help dramatically improved the quality of the end piece, and I walked away with skills I will use over and over again. I can't thank her enough.
Stained glass comes in many colors and textures. It also varies in clarity from glass that allows light to shine through to totally opaque pieces. More than anything, I wanted to give her students the chance to see this piece, so I choose glass that allowed as much color to come through as possible. Rainbow Vision had a great selection of beautiful glass that would do the trick!
The finished piece turned out great, and I got to give it to her in person when she visited this July!
Congratulations, Kristen! You have always been an outstanding teacher in my book, and I am glad you are receiving the recognition you deserve. You are truly a blessing to your students and always help them to fly!
There is something about pottery that makes me feel nurtured and brings me joy. I imagine it is because I know someone took the time to put their hands to clay and make something functional to enhance daily tasks. My favorite potter is Amy Holland, who started as my pottery instructor (she an excellent teacher to any age) and became a good friend. I love everything about her work and literally begin and end my day using it. On my kitchen counter is a crock that holds my morning granola and a compost crock that I empty each evening. Also pictured is a mug that appeared in my cupboard one day. It warms my hands with my morning cocoa. Cocoa just tastes better in that mug.
The Parks are great neighbors. We get along really well and help each other out when we can. They are also kind enough to share their dogs and grandchildren with me. Their two grandsons come and craft with me when they are not playing baseball. The boys are excellent athletes in both physical talent and humble attitude thanks in part to their father, who is one of their coaches and mother, who is a constant support. Both are pitchers and also hit and throw well. When they play, it is a family affair with grandparents, aunts, uncles and, on occasion, me forming their cheering section.
While perusing Pinterest, I saw a white quilt with red baseball stitching and naturally thought of my favorite sluggers, but I knew they did not need quilts. After touching base with their Mom, I settled in on making them each a study pillow they could use in their "dugout" at home. Then I stepped up to the plate to make them as a "no apparent reason" gift, my personal favorite.
Right off the bat, I made inner pillows out of an old sheet so the cover could be removed and washed. I covered my bases by finishing the outside edges with a zig-zag stitch so it would never fray.
I grandstanded by fusing and then appliquéing orange baseball stitches on the front of each pillow.
The colors blue and orange made it a whole new ball game; the orange represents the Baltimore Orioles, the boys' favorite team, and the blue matched the room pleasing their manager, aka Mom!
Out of left field, I lined each outer piece with baseball polar fleece to provide even more padding.
I was thrown a curveball when the inner pillow was too stuffed to easily slide inside, but it was quickly corrected by removing some stuffing.
To make it a home run, I embroidered their baseball nicknames on a strip and buttoned them on the back.
Finally, I made it a grand slam by using the extra baseball fabric to make them each another pillow.
Ok, boys; off to the dugout to relax before your game against China next week. Then . . . Play Ball! Yes I said China! A team was touring and looking for a local team to play. They contacted the Lancaster Barnstormers who contacted someone on the boy's team and organized the game. It was fun to watch as the boy's team was very gracious to this team that had traveled so far and was just learning the game.
Foot Note: I made these pillows because I wanted to "play" with this design and was excited to give them to the boys. Below is another pillow I made years ago after a young friend gave me a piece of her original artwork. It was fun to give it back to her in pillow form.
There are many study pillows on the market you can buy off the shelf for a fraction of what I would charge to make it. That said, I would happily discuss making custom pillows like this for anyone who might be interested in quality construction and a completely custom end product. Want to step up to the plate for a pillow? Contact me so we can talk .
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.