Holocaust Memory Quilts, Kosloff Torah Academy 2012-2013

This three panel memorial was commissioned by students of the Kosloff Torah Academy (KTA), an Orthodox Jewish Girls High School in Bala Cynwyd, PA. The students from the school spent several months collaborating with eileen to create a powerful triptych which now lives inside a glass case at KTA.

The focus of this multimedia interdisciplinary project is to “incorporate the history and lessons of the Holocaust into… personal and collective jewish identities.” 79 Students and faculty, guided by KTA art teacher Julia Strassman, compiled dozens of 8” squares of fabric as well as photographs, paint, wire, pearls, yarn, buttons, and other found objects for the project.

  Quilt 3, Square 9: Imprisoned behind barbed wire, labeled with the Dutch word "Jood" (Jew), and clothed in prison garb this image is a powerful reminder of hardship and suffering.  (Sapir S.)

Quilt 3, Square 9: Imprisoned behind barbed wire, labeled with the Dutch word "Jood" (Jew), and clothed in prison garb this image is a powerful reminder of hardship and suffering. (Sapir S.)

  Quilt 2, Square 12: This quilt block illustrates the three tier bunk beds where concentration camp prisoners were forced to sleep.  (Offir A.)

Quilt 2, Square 12: This quilt block illustrates the three tier bunk beds where concentration camp prisoners were forced to sleep. (Offir A.)

  Quilt 2, Square 15: This quilt block represents a little stuffed dog that one teenager took with her on a Kindertransport that took her out of Germany after Kristallnacht.  The dog served as a hiding place for jewelry that could be used for a bribe in an emergency. (Tzipora T.)

Quilt 2, Square 15: This quilt block represents a little stuffed dog that one teenager took with her on a Kindertransport that took her out of Germany after Kristallnacht.  The dog served as a hiding place for jewelry that could be used for a bribe in an emergency. (Tzipora T.)

  Quilt 2, Square 5: Comprehending 6,000,000 lives lost is overwhelming.  Using paper clips to represent the millions who perished is an attempt to help us visualize just how many people suffered and died. (Malky I.)

Quilt 2, Square 5: Comprehending 6,000,000 lives lost is overwhelming.  Using paper clips to represent the millions who perished is an attempt to help us visualize just how many people suffered and died. (Malky I.)

These four quilt blocks showcase the creativity and thought behind the development of this triptych Memorial Quilt. Viewed individually, each of the 79 quilt blocks depicts the impact of the Holocaust on its artist. Viewed collectively, the quilt becomes a "a memorial to those who perished... and honoring those who survived the Holocaust."

     Once the component quilt blocks were complete, Mrs. Strassman needed a quilt maker to transform their art into a quilted triptych to be permanently displayed on the KTA walls. She asked if eileen would consider joining her. Her answer, an emphatic "Yes!"


     eileen's contributed her expertise in design and technical precision. Mrs. Strassman delivered the blocks to eileen's studio and eileen began pinning them on her design wall (featured left) to determine permanent placement on the quilt. 

     The challenge was how to secure the delicate artwork to the background fabric. The fragile embellishments on the quilt blocks required that all of the quilting work be done by hand (right photo).

  Because of the delicate nature of quilt blocks they needed to be secured to the background fabric by hand.

Because of the delicate nature of quilt blocks they needed to be secured to the background fabric by hand.

  Pinning blocks to the design wall helped eileen determine their permanent placement on the quilt.

Pinning blocks to the design wall helped eileen determine their permanent placement on the quilt.

 
collage1.jpg

The Legacy of Grandma Alice

Another amazing project: how one grandmother’s legacy is being honored. This quilt celebrates her memory using words that describe her life interests. It also celebrates the wedding of her grandson… the person for whom the quilt was originally intended. It all started with Grandma Alice...

  Grandma Alice

Grandma Alice

     When Grandma Alice passed away, her daughter approached eileen to complete a quilt which Grandma Alice had recently started. The quilt was meant to be a wedding gift for her recently engaged grandson, but when Alice died it was more concept than quilt and consisted only of the single block below—two pieces of cloth sandwiched around a slice of batting with the letters not yet added.

  The words LOVE and ALICE were added to Grandma Alice's original quilt block. This block later became an integral piece and can be seen as part of the completed work below.

The words LOVE and ALICE were added to Grandma Alice's original quilt block. This block later became an integral piece and can be seen as part of the completed work below.

The process took a considerable amount of thought. eileen asked a lot of questions about Grandma Alice, learning everything she could about her life and what she loved. eileen found that Alice had been an voracious reader, a dedicated teacher, a worldly traveler, and a skilled bridge player. She also spent a great deal of her time sewing and solving crossword puzzles. But most of all, her life was filled with laughter and family. 
     That was it, eileen would embody Alice's life through sewing and letters into one of her favorite mediums, crossword puzzle!

  Once pieced together these 16-patch blocks would serve as the backdrop for Alice's personalized crossword puzzle quilt. The words which best described Grandma Alice would be stitched onto a fabric background. Together they would tell her story. 

Once pieced together these 16-patch blocks would serve as the backdrop for Alice's personalized crossword puzzle quilt. The words which best described Grandma Alice would be stitched onto a fabric background. Together they would tell her story. 

  This quilt was not just for display. For it to be functional the letters needed to be secured to the quilt carefully.

This quilt was not just for display. For it to be functional the letters needed to be secured to the quilt carefully.

  Each letter was secured in place using a decorative blanket stitch with thread to match the background fabric. 

Each letter was secured in place using a decorative blanket stitch with thread to match the background fabric. 

                                        Across: CROSSWORDS, AUGUSTA, TEACHER, GRANDMA, BRIDGE, FAMILY, BREZON, WEDDING, LAUGHTER, ALICE  

Down: READER, OAK PARK, EDWARD, BEN, TRAVELER, NO TRUMP, HANNAH, SEWING, LOVE

 
  Quilt dimensions:  60" X 60"

Quilt dimensions:  60" X 60"

 
  This image shows the quilt dedication pinned, but not yet stitched, to the quilt back. This gift captures the essence of Grandma Alice's love for her grandson. It is a memento sure to be treasured for years.

This image shows the quilt dedication pinned, but not yet stitched, to the quilt back. This gift captures the essence of Grandma Alice's love for her grandson. It is a memento sure to be treasured for years.


Camp Belmont

The favorite Summer destination for the nine Belmont grandchildren was their Grandma and Grandpa's home on Martha's Vineyard Island, affectionately known within the family as Camp Belmont. And vacations spent on The Vineyard with Grandma, Grandpa, and the cousins were always wholesome.

  This quilt was mounted on the wall at Grandma and Grandpa's Martha's Vineyard house in 1996... a symbol of family love and pride... a lasting tribute to Grandma and Grandpa and the memories they gave their family. Dimensions:  72" X 48" (excluding the hanging tabs)

This quilt was mounted on the wall at Grandma and Grandpa's Martha's Vineyard house in 1996... a symbol of family love and pride... a lasting tribute to Grandma and Grandpa and the memories they gave their family. Dimensions:  72" X 48" (excluding the hanging tabs)

  Grandpa named his boat TRIUMPH.  The grandkids loved it, especially Jason!

Grandpa named his boat TRIUMPH.  The grandkids loved it, especially Jason!

One lazy Sunday afternoon many years ago the nine Belmont cousins and their moms decided to work on a surprise project for Grandma and Grandpa. The plan was to commemorate their summers in Martha's Vineyard.

Armed with an assortment of vibrantly colored 12" felt squares, sharpened scissors, a hot glue gun, and lots of enthusiasm the cousins mapped out their project. They generated a list of their favorite spots around the island and activities, delegated a cousin to illustrate each one, and went to work.

Once the blocks were finished, eileen joined them to a background fabric, secured them with double fold grey bias tape, and added a border to the quilt perimeter. The quilt was hung from a decorative rod threaded through seven hanging tabs.

Memories captured in this quilt:  Time spent with Grandma and Grandpa ~ Time spent without their parents! ~ The ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard on the Island Queen ~ Visits to the Black Dog Bakery ~ Tennis with Grandma and Grandpa at the Yacht Club ~ Trips to Bunch of Grapes Book Store in Vineyard Haven ~ Outings to the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs ~ Feasting on pizza at Bob's on Main Street ~ Enjoying ice cream at Mad Martha's ~ Swimming and sunning at the Mink Meadows Beach, Longpoint Beach, and State Beach ~ Sailing on Grandpa's boat Triumph ~ Summer vacation ~ Time spent with each other!