Quilt No. 5 | Sparkle in Kenya


My last quilt was for Craft Hope's Project 25 for the charity, We Are Kenya.  It was sent to a small child at the Provision Education Center in Soweto, Kenya, in the hopes that it would give him or her warmth and make them feel special.

I was so inspired by this project, by this country, by the smiles of the children... that I made a second quilt for me.

I was moved by how the Kenyan people manage to create beautiful wardrobes and jewelry.  They have a pride that shines brightly... and a perserverence to keep moving forward... to create such works of complexity (I would have given up by the fourth row of the beadwork!).

Kenyan Bride by Philip Lee Harvey [Credit:Link]

With this ceremonial wardrobe, this Kenyan bride looked special on her big day.

Old Samburu Goddess Woman by Eric Lafforgue [Credit:Link]

This elder Samburu woman truly looks proud, regal - a true diva.  Her facial expression, her pose - exude power.  She doesn't have all the money in the world or an entourage... but her inner power in this moment is truly mesmerizing!

Did I mention the jewelry?!

The beadwork, colors, and design are so wonderful, so bold.  And it's not about using diamonds or precious stones... these are beads!  It's incredible how the pieces dance together... each piece whether single or layered with others creates a sparkle that even some modern jewelry can not match.





Well, now you know what inspired me about the Kenyan people... next, I searched for inspiration of a quilt pattern that could capture the color, the movement, and the bold sparkle that can not be stopped.

Gees Bend quilts never fail me when I need inspiration.  The following two quilts were the main catalysts that got my mind churning - like the tornado that swept up Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz - I was off to the races!!

Pearlie Kennedy Pettway, ca. 1960 [Credit:Link]

Annie Bendolph, "Thousand Pyramids" variation, ca. 1930 [Credit:Link]

It took me some time to cut all of the half triangle squares (finger cramps!)... but once I had enough, I started playing around with the overall pattern...


Zig Zag Directional

Converging to a point

Centered and Radiating Outward

The last option, radiating outward, felt perfect.  Radiating out was how I felt the Kenyan clothing and jewelry spoke to me.  So, my little design assistant and I got to work.

El, Future Designer

This quilt required semi-planned patterning... unlike the improvisational piecing of my previous quilt.  As you can see from the photo below - lights with lights and dark with darks.

The Queue

Getting Bigger

Bigger Still

Finally! We finished the top layer!!  What a job... hard part was over.

Top Layer

The back layer was definitely easier and more improvisational... except for the center block.  I had all of these extra squares with a bright lemon yellow that didn't make it into the top layer of the quilt. I felt the back panel would be too boring if it was just the four color blocks - so, I added a little bit of sparkle to the back of the quilt, too!

I wasn't sure if it would be successful, but I went ahead anyway.  I'm happy I did it... the back panel can also be used as a top layer (if the sparkle from the front is too much!)

Back Panel Block Pattern

Back Panel Finished

Sparkle in Kenya

It was an eye-opening journey creating this quilt... It has shown me how to create something beautiful... not from the richest of materials... but from the everyday things around me.  Joy and happiness don't require much - even a smile or a hug can mean the world to someone... so why don't we do that more often?

We often are so afraid to reach out to people because we're not good enough, not worthy enough, not great enough... the point of it all is to connect - really connect.

It's not the pretty life we post in our status that connects,  it's actually sharing with another person something real about yourself - good or bad.  It's not all of the infinite amounts of stuff we absorb sitting alone in front of the computer... it's sitting with someone and watching a movie together or even having a conversation (imagine that!).

Life is messy but we are each beautiful in our own way... and we can choose to chase after the things that keep us happy, curious, or joyful... the things that make us smile!

Samburu Woman Laughing [Credit:Link]


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