Holocaust Memory Quilts, Kosloff Torah Academy 2012-2013
 

This 3-panel masterpiece was a collaborative effort many months in the making. The triptych lives inside a protective glass case at Kosloff Torah Academy (KTA), an Orthodox Jewish Girls High School in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

The focus of this multi-media multi-disciplinary project was to “incorporate the history and lessons of the Holocaust into… personal and collective Jewish identities”. The students and participating faculty were guided by KTA Art Teacher Mrs. Julia Strassman. Using 8” squares of fabric for the background, as well as photographs, paint, wire, pearls, yarn, buttons, and other found objects, the 79 contributing artists went to work.

 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 3 tier bunk beds where concentration camp prisoners were forced to sleep. (Offir A.)

Quilt 2, Square 12: This quilt block illustrates the 3 tier bunk beds where concentration camp prisoners were forced to sleep. (Offir A.)

These four quilt blocks (above and below) are representative of the creativity and thought behind the development of this three-paneled Memorial Quilt. Viewed individually, each of the 79 quilt blocks depicts the impact of the Holocaust on the artist who created it.  Viewed collectively the three quilt panels "are a memorial to those who perished and... honor those who survived the Holocaust".

 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.)

 Above: Quilt 1:  Pinning blocks to the design wall helped Eileen determine their permanent placement on the quilt.

Above: Quilt 1:  Pinning blocks to the design wall helped Eileen determine their permanent placement on the quilt.

 Once the component quilt blocks were complete, Mrs. Strassman needed a quiltmaker to transform the student and faculty generated 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 contribution involved design decisions and technical precision. Mrs. Strassman delivered the blocks to Eileen's studio and Eileen began pinning them on her design wall (left photo) to determine permanent placement on the quilt. The challenge: 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.

 

The Legacy of Grandma Alice 

    This is another amazing project: The story of how one grandmother’s legacy is being honored. It 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 died, her daughter approached Eileen to complete the quilt Grandma Alice had only recently started. The quilt was to have been a wedding gift for her soon-to-be-married 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.  The letters had not yet been added.  There was not much for Eileen to work with.

 The words LOVE and ALICE were added to Grandma Alice's original quilt block. You can see (below, viewing the finished quilt image at the end of this section) how well it was integrated into the quilt design. 

The words LOVE and ALICE were added to Grandma Alice's original quilt block. You can see (below, viewing the finished quilt image at the end of this section) how well it was integrated into the quilt design. 

The process took considerable thought. Eileen asked a lot of questions about Grandma Alice and really learned about her... her life, and what she loved. Eileen learned that Alice had been an avid reader, a teacher, a traveler, and a bridge player.  Her life was full of laughter and family. She loved to sew and she especially loved crossword puzzles!
     That was it: Grandma Alice's life would be celebrated with a CROSSWORD PUZZLE quilt! 

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

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

 This quilt was not just for display.  It was designed to be used, therefore the letters needed to be secured to the quilt carefully.

This quilt was not just for display.  It was designed to be used, therefore 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. Vacation time on The Vineyard with Grandma, Grandpa, and the cousins:  Awesome! 

 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)

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:  Make something to celebrate their summer visits to Martha's Vineyard... something that would capture their most favorite MV memories.

Armed with a selection of 12" felt squares in an assortment of vibrant colors, sharpened scissors, a hot glue gun, and lots of enthusiasm the cousins mapped out their project.  They generated a list of their favorite Vineyard destinations and activities, decided which cousin would 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 celebration quilt designed and made by the cousins:  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!