Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Novel Quilt by Chris Boersma Smith -- Literally!

Chris Boersma Smith has the distinction of making a quilt that becomes an element in a novel. Her original designed quilt, Broken Hearts Mending, was featured in Marie Bostwick's contemporary novel "A Single Thread."

It is a story of a displaced Texas homemaker who moves to Connecticut and pursues her dream of opening a quilt shop. But, on the day the shop opens, the owner discovers she has breast cancer. With the help of her friends, the book has a happy ending.

Here's a scene featuring the quilt, compliments of the author.

Excerpt from A SINGLE THREAD

It was a beautiful quilt. Knowing how I love strong colors, they'd chosen a palette of bright greens and vibrant pinks with surprising accents of a white and black fabric that enhanced the depth and richness of the colors. Such happy colors. The design was bold, using a traditional theme - hearts - but giving it a fresh, modern interpretation. The theme blocks were patchworked hearts, strip pieced in varying shades and patterns of pink and then outlined, first in spring green and then again in the black fabric. There were eight complete hearts in all, scattered over the pieced green backing in an unpredictable pattern. Most interesting of all, there were several half-heart blocks, again sprinkled around the backing at irregular intervals, some isolated and lonely, floating in a field of green, others set near but not quite next to another half-heart, slightly off center, as if the broken halves were moving toward each other in varying stages of becoming whole again...

"I was thinking about us, you know, about our quilting circle and what it is we all have in common. That's how I came up with the idea. In one way or another, we've all had our hearts broken. At the same time, we've helped each other get through it. It's not like everything is better yet. We've still got problems to work through, but slowly we're helping each other heal. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah," I said quietly. "I know what you mean."

Chris comments on quilts and quilters in her life and how she came to have a quilt in a novel. "

My motto is “Reap As You Sew . . . Courage & Creativity, Wisdom & Wonder, Connection & Community.” Over the years, quilting has carried me through the rough patches (hey, I’m a 60 year old wife and mother) and allowed me to express my uniqueness in an art form that evolves as we do artistically. The rhythm of machine or hand stitching has slowed me down enough to listen and discern at the crossroads of life. Seeing the creations of “women armed with needles” never ceases to surprise and delight me. Yet, connecting with other women and building community top the list of rewards.

In my Wednesday Quilt Group, Karen Ingersoll was a quiet, steady, kindhearted soul, whom we loved and lost to breast cancer after a valiant, five-year fight. After her death, a friend of mine and now New York Times bestselling author, Marie Bostwick, asked me to design a quilt for her novel A Single Thread—which has become the first in her series of Cobbled Court Quilters’ novels. The result was the aptly named “Broken Hearts Mending” quilt.

Like the hearts quilt my friends and I made for Karen, it touched the recipient (literally and figuratively) throughout her ordeal and provided a way for the makers to focus their concern and love on doing something concrete to help a friend through her illness.

Reaching out creatively is one of the ways we "Reap As We Sew," and for me, that is a powerful act of love. I believe I'm called to help others grow spiritually through quilting, and I try to do that with my quilt art, my writing, and by putting on retreats and getaways for quilters—mostly in a beautiful ocean view setting at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Isn't it great that in honoring our heart’s desires, we can serve and bless one another?"

A free download of the quilt pattern is available to those who register as a reader at Marie's website.


Caron said...

I'm in the middle of reading that book!!! I love it!

Kathleen McKenna Murphy said...

I bought two copies and gave one to my quilt mentor, Joyce Gilmore for Christmas. I haven't read mine yet but she loved it.

Chris said...

I encourage anyone making this quilt to go for a scrappier, brighter look. The background can be variety of fabrics, you can vary the strip piecing, and use different black & white fabrics around the hearts. You can still get the unity through color, the use of black and whites, etc., but you can also get more zing. The pattern was just simplified because the characters in the novel, and some of Marie's fans, are beginning quilters. Go for it, your way!