Passage Quilts
Passage Quilts
Sherri in front of Rainbow Cloud quilt
Sherri in front of Rainbow Cloud quilt
 
1200 Hats Project Exhibition
1200 Hats Project Exhibition
Modern Quilts: Summer 2010
Modern Quilts: Summer 2010

RGB Modern
RGB Modern
Passage Quilts 4
Sherri’s Passage Quilt using her mother’s clothing

 

 

Compassionate Quilting helping people through life transitions

 

SHERRI LYNN WOOD IS AN ARTIST LIVING IN CALIFORNIA WHO IMPROVISES QUILTS AS A LIFE PRACTICE. SHE HAS BEEN WORKING WITH PEOPLE THROUGH VARIOUS COLLABORATIONS TO MAKE IMPROVISED QUILTS FROM THE CLOTHING AND MATERIALS OF EVERYDAY LIFE. THIS PRACTICE DEVELOPED INTO AN ACTIVE, HANDS-ON, THERAPEUTIC PROCESS FOR WORKING THROUGH LIFE TRANSITIONS THAT SHE CALLS PASSAGE QUILTING.

 

interview: Mindy Cook

 

Firstly, can you tell us about the
1200 Hats Project?

 

“While discovering my creative interests through relevant courses, I developed projects that allowed me to explore life’s inner struggles by engaging with various communities That led to starting a project with people who knew all about real life ‘confinement’. I volunteered for a year at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for women and along with a handful of inmates we crocheted a one-of-a-kind hat for every woman incarcerated in the institution – which represented their decision to say YES within a confined system where the answer was always NO! Following a public exhibition of the hats we donated them to a new prison reform initiative that allowed non-violent women offenders to serve their sentence with their children under 12 at a special institution. To this day, women at NCCIW continue to crochet hats for auction in support of it.”

 

How did quilting become such a big part of your life?

 

Early in my quilt making endeavours I was exposed to an exhibition – Who’d A Thought It – which introduced the long overlooked contributions of African-Americans to the tradition of patchwork. After witnessing the beauty and presence in those imperfect quilts I was hooked on improvisation. I attended a workshop with Nancy Crow and a lightbulb went off as I realized anything was possible.

 

Have you explored how other, more traditional methods of quilting could be combined with improvisation?

 

I believe in the value of learning sewing and patchwork skills from many traditions and enjoy synthesizing them into my practice in a way that makes them my own. I also equally believe in the value of exploring improvisational methods from other disciplines, such as theatre, music, dance, cooking, drawing and play in support of my improvisational patchwork process. My book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, is about this very thing.

 

How did Passage Quilting come about?

 

I was beginning to question the value of an object based creative practice. Then one day, while I was selling my quilts at the local Farmers’ Market a woman came up to me and asked if I could make a quilt for her from her grandmother’s clothing. There was my answer. It was as simple as that. 

However it took another year to fully realize the potential of linking improvisational patchwork to the bereavement process. Passage Quilting enlists the bereaved – often non-quilters – into the quilt making process and builds the tradition of memorial quilting – in which clothing is used in pre-planned geometric quilt blocks. It is an active, kinetic vehicle for healing that mirrors the process of letting go through improvisational patchwork, using the architecture of the clothing.

 

Do you have some tips for quilters (and other craft/creative pursuits) looking to get something more out of our quilting or crafting?

 

  • pay attention – be present – create mindfully
  • identify your limits and then challenge yourself to stretch beyond them
  • recognize that the way you create or craft an object has applicable value for understanding the way you live or craft your life
  • join and build community around your craft
  • accept and evaluate your creative output by listing your surprises, discoveries, satisfactions, dissatisfactions and then decide your next steps – never judge your work as good or bad.

 

 

Finish this sentence: I can’t live without…. my friends.

Passage Quilts

          Passage Quilts 2Passage Quilts

Sherri is also an awarded sculptor and her work is shown in museums and galleries across the USA. She has been making quilts professionally and with passion since 1989, is currently writing and creating quilts for her first book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, and used her crafty creativity for good in many other ways. See more of Sherri’s work at http://daintytime.net/

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4 thoughts on “Compassionate Quilting”

  1. Hello Sherri
    Your concept of making something by deconstructing and reconstructing with materials (old and/or new) from clothes is my idea of being creative and making your down designs. I look forward to learning about your work. I am finishing my first double bed quilt with the sashings and posts design and at the moment stitching in the ditch – its a big project on my little Bernina! cheerio Gillian Wolff – Canberra Australia

  2. I love that Sherri is using people’s clothing like this. I recently made a quilt for a friend who lost her husband. I made the quilt from his clothing, mostly cotton shirts and a dressing gown he wore. I used a patchwork sample pattern with a big dresden flower in the middle. She loves the quilt and has it on her lap every day to keep her warm. I remember seeing something on Oprah about a lady who made quilts from her friend’s deceased children’s clothing and that has always stayed with me. There is so much memory in clothing and so much good clothing is just thrown away when it has taken so many resources to produce an item. Keep creatively recycling Sherri!

  3. Thanks Angela. You’re right. Clothing recalls memory in a unique, deep and holistic way quite different than photographs even, which tend to keep our memories compartmentalized. Best to you! Sherri

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