Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Quilting" as Public Art

My friend Taryn has been working hard with the Imagine Main Street initiative to enhance the public image of Manchester, CT, and earlier this spring she asked if I would submit a proposal for decorating a public bench. I submitted a few drawings of benches covered with triangles and diamonds, and I heard back from the committee in late March. John Boyle Decorating donated all of the painting supplies to the participating artists, so I had a little help choosing the brightest color of orange (of course!) paint that the paint store could mix in an outdoor formula. After that, I indulged in a fabric-buying binge to accumulate a nice stack of cheerful picnicky fabrics to chop into little triangles.

On the first Thursday in May my family and I battled the Hartford traffic so I could begin the bench project as a "public performance" activity. That evening was a fun painting session; lots of people who were enjoying the gorgeous evening in Manchester stopped to talk and ask about the program.
A plaque! With my name! They kind of mixed up my quilting alter-ego with the name of the bench, but I'm good with it.
Lots of chatting during the initial painting. NoRA Cupcakes and hula hooping for everyone too!
A few days later, the organization had the bench delivered to my house so I could work on the decoupage here, far more convenient than repeatedly crossing through Hartford. I chopped up hundreds of little 2 3/4" triangles from the new fabrics and threw in a few others from my Strategic Fabric Reserves to round out the set. The backs of the rails were a little tricky; since I used continuous lengths of the yellow paisley fabric, I had to figure out how to make the appropriate cuts to wrap it around the concrete base pieces. After that, it was just a matter of gluing. I used a bottle and a half of Mod Podge to adhere and seal the triangles, working across one slat at a time.
Bench in progress.
My resident 12yo paparazzo captured the exact moment of the last piece being installed.
Manchester's "quilted" bench!
Manchester's "quilted" bench -- alternate view
Manchester's "quilted" bench -- close-up view of the fabrics
They'll be picking it up later today or tomorrow so they can get it back into use at the bus stop. If you find yourself in Manchester, stop and take a look! I'm going to get some photos of it in situ later this month. Fingers are crossed that the combination of Mod Podge and Spar Urethane will be sufficient.

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