A few years ago when my book Kids Embroidery came out, I did a class and booksigning at The Blue Bunny in Dedham, MA. (The illustration here is one I did for the book and it is shows children from around the world in embroidered costumes.) Owned by the Reynolds' family, the store is all about creativity and learning for children of all ages. The kids who attended made a little bookmark and learned quite a few stitches. It was a fun afternoon.
When I go to present these events, I usually learn more than I teach. I was fortunate to spend some time talking with Janet Reynolds and she shared with me her family's needlework traditions. The timing was perfect - it was just before the photography for Colorful Stitchery.
She told me about her favorite aunt who lived in New York City. The aunt, who was quite prim and proper, had a special tablecloth which she used for every dinner party she hosted. The color was a lovely shade of silver grey. Before each guest left the table, she asked them to sign their name on the cloth with her special graphite pencil. After the dinner party, she stitched over the signature in a matching silver grey floss to help her remember her friend and the meal she shared.
When Janet and Paul began throwing their own dinner parties, Janet carried on with her aunt's tradition. She purchased an off-white cloth and started building her own dinner cloth memories. I boldly asked her if I could share her idea in my book. She volunteered her cloth for photography. How very exciting for me to be able to share their special tradition with my readers! Here's a shot from far away.
As you can imagine, Janet and her husband Paul have many friends who are illustrators and artists including Paul's twin brother Peter. What you can't see from this photo is that lots of the signatures have little quirky illustrations next to their names. Janet stitched the names in many different bright colors and it is so lovely. She says the only downfall is she can't wash the cloth until the signature has been stitched! Janet stitched the signatures in the simple outline stitch which works nicely for swirly cursive lettering.
Thanks so much to Janet for sharing this project with me. It was so nice to see her again last week at their store The Blue Bunny in Dedham, Massachusetts.
p.s. If you live with young authors and illustrators, be sure to check out this link to The Hutch, the Reynolds' new literary and art magazine for children. They are accepting submissions now!