My nephew is a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On December 14, 2012, his carefree childhood came to an abrupt end as a murderer came into his school and killed 20 of his classmates and 6 school employees. One of his best friends was among the victims. In order to help make sense of the tragedy, my nephew suggested writing the names of his friends on balloons and then releasing them with his classmates.
Shattered Childhood shows my nephew and his friend as silhouettes behind the words of a news article about the shooting. This article is cut into 26 pieces to represent the 26 victims and to resemble broken glass. The balloons in the upper left corner are a symbol of hope that the community rise from this tragedy, carrying with it the memory of those lost.
In order to create the piece, I started with pictures of my nephew and his friend and created a silhouette from a dark gray fabric which I placed on a lighter gray fabric. I wanted the piece to be mostly void of color to match the mood of the community. On the silhouettes, I used free-motion stitching to create their basic features: eyes, nose, mouth, …. I then merged several articles about the shooting into one and printed it onto sheer fabric, which I backed with Misty Fuse.
Next, I cut the article into 26 pieces and placed them over the boys and started deciding on the placement of the article pieces and balloons. I started with lots of balloons and slowly removed and rearranged them until I was happy with the layout. At that point, I layered the piece with batting and backing and then sewed the balloons and article pieces down with a button hole stitch through all layers.
The finished quilt was then stapled to a 14″ x 11″ stretched canvas, labeled, and a hanging wire was added. The piece is now on its way to an exhibition in Philadelphia. You can see it April 9 – May 2, 2013 at SPP Galleries (The Philadelphia Inquirer Building, Route 23, Conshohocken, PA).