Category: 70273 project blog (Page 2 of 27)

University of Central Missouri, Here We Come Again!

The amazing Amber Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., professor, Director of the McClure Archives and Museum, and Curator of the largest and longest exhibit to date of The 70273 Project has done it again! Y’all may remember that last March found me on the beautiful campus of the University of Central Missouri, delivering the kick-off speech for Politics and Social Justice Week. Well now she’s put together a full week of educational, brain-and-heart-expanding goodness.

The Schedule

Tuesday, September 17
~ Visit to an Art class on Fibers to speak about studio and project process
~ 12 to 1:30 p.m.: Lunch and Tour with press at the McClure
~ Possibility that another classroom lecture will be added
~ Possible informal chat with students over a brown bag lunch

Wednesday, September 18
~ 12 to 1:30 p.m.: Lunch with students in Chapel Basement
~ 5:00 p.m.: Public lecture at Warrensburg First Presbyterian Church, The 70273 Project: A Backstage Pass
~ 6:30 p.m.: Community Dinner with Jeanne at Café Blackadder (by invitation, attendees pay for their own meal)

Thursday, September 19
~ 11:00 a.m.: Special screening of The Eugenics Crusade: What’s Wrong with Perfect? in Wood 205 on the campus of University of Central Missouri
~ 2:00 p.m.: The 70273 Project: A Backstage Pass Lecture at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, Multi-Activity Center Room / Jewish Community Campus / 5801 West 115th Street / Overland Park, Kansas 66211. Reservations are required and can be made here.

Friday, September 20
~ Open. Want to meet-up somewhere? Want me to speak to your group? I welcome any opportunity to meet and make, show and tell. Let me know asap and let’s make it happen.

Saturday, September 21
~ 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.: The 70273 Project Block Drive in downtown Warrensburg Courthouse Square. All ages welcome. No sewing skills necessary. Supplies will be provided for those wishing to make blocks to commemorate those who were murdered. Quilters and stitchers are welcome to drop off already completed blocks and stay to chat a while. 

Check Back Often

Would you like to come to some of these gatherings? Maybe you want to get some friends together and take a field trip? Amber and I are finalizing the details this week, so check back often for information of added events and specifics on things like times, places, parking places and passes, directions, etc.

Updates from Me

I am enjoying some improvement in my vision. Your good thoughts, prayers, healing energy, encouragement, and support continue to make all the difference. I also appreciate your patience as I learned to deal with my impaired vision and gave way to the possibly/probably inevitable depression that followed the diagnosis. I’m back now, and raring to go. So many ideas to share here, so come back by often. The 70273 Project isn’t over yet! Not by a long shot.

So Grateful

A great big huge thank you to Amber for investing the time and energy to put all this together, and to my daughter Alison who will be my eyes and chauffeur since I still am not allowed to drive. And to all of y’all who continue to be part of The 70273 Project.

I hope some of y’all can come. And I hope you’ll share this post with others who might be interested in attending.


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Bits of Interest

Interviews, sending information, formatting and sending photos, answering questions – as always, life is like a crazy quilt with much going on behind the scenes and filling my days at The 70273 Project, and many things are now coming to fruition . . .

Curated Quilts Magazine

cover of Curated Quilts magazine with words sewn into quilts
Every issue of Curated Quilts is an opportunity to attend a juried exhibit from the comfort of your own home. Each quarterly issue – available in print or digital versions – features a central theme and images of quilts selected for inclusion in the gallery, along with interviews, inspiration, techniques, and patterns. The magazine is printed on heavy stock paper that’s a delight to touch, the page layouts are beautifully designed, and the quilts in the gallery are a delight to behold. It’s more like a coffee table book that you’ll enjoy looking at over and over.
In early April, Amy Ellis, one half of the Curated quilts team, emailed to ask permission to include one of The 70273 Project quilts in issue #8 featuring Well Said quilts. “Specifically, we would like to feature your quilt in our gallery. A quilt from your 70273 Project would make a beautiful addition to our group of quilts curated to feature Well Said quilts,” writes Amy. I’m delighted to tell y’all that Curated Quilts Issue #8 is out, and The 70273 Project Quilt #10 is on page 13! Thank you, Amy and Christine for thinking of The 70273 Project. It’s an honor to be included.
a page in a magazine containing a photo of and an article about Quilt #10 of The 70273 Project. The quilt is a rectangular white quilt covered with pairs of red X's.

Quilts #649 and #650 at AHEAD Conference

two women stand in front of two white quilts covered in pairs of red X's

(L ro R) Tree Kuharich, Jane Brown stand in front of (L to R) Quilts 650 and 649 at the AHEAD Conference in Boston 2019

Thanks to the encouragement of Gladys Loewen and the generous hospitality of the AHEAD – Association on Higher Education and Disabilities – leadership, The 70273 Project (Gladys Lowen, Peggy Thomas, Kevin Thomas, Andy Chambers, and I) hosted a block drive at the AHEAD 2018 conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Members of AHEAD – eople who work to make life on college and university campuses throughout the United States accessible and accommodating for students with disabilities – embraced The 70273 Project, and I continue to be invited to make presentations to group, deliver lectures to classes, make studio visits, and host block drives on campuses near and far. It is a thrill and an honor to talk with faculty and students who study history, art, social work, and disabilities.

Both quilts were on display in the registration area of this year’s AHEAD conference. The 119 blocks made at last year’s conference were divided into bundles for two quilts and sent to Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D. who pieced both tops, channeling her family history as she arranged and stitched, remembered and reflected.
woman stands besides two white quilts covered with pairs of red X's

Tree Kuharich stands beside Quilt #649 on display at the 2019 AHEAD conference in Boston. 53 lives are commemorated in this quilt that was pieced by Jane Brown and quilted by Tree.

The top for Quilt #649 (53 lives commemorated) was sent to Tree Kuharich who volunteered to quilt and finish it with a mere 3 months notice. Tree and her husband drove to Boston to view the quilts and attend one of Jane’s presentations on neurodiversity in higher education.
two white quilts covered in pairs of red X's hang between two women

Jane Brown (L) stands besides The 70273 Project Quilt #650 and Tree Kuharich (R) stands beside Quilt #649.

The top for Quilt #650 (66 lives commemorated) was sent to Gladys Loewen who quilted it using drapery fabric that once belonged to the mother-in-law of Tari Vickery as the backing. Tari hand delivered the repurposed fabric to Gladys this spring and even though she’s not a quilter, she nevertheless enthusiastically helped Gladys baste the quilt.
Thank you to all who were involved in the making of these two quilts, to those who invite me to take The 70273 Project to their campus; to AHEAD for having us host a block drive last year and displayed the quilts this year; to Kim Richards of AHEAD for taking photos, answering questions, and distributing information about the project; and to  Gladys, Jane, Tree, Tari, Peggy, Kevin, Andy, and everyone who made a block in Quilts 649 and 650.

University of Central Missouri

I spoke with Amber Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., Director of the McClure Archives and University Museum last week, and she says people continue to stream in to see the more than 100 quilts that are on display at The McClure. Due to the success and positive reception of The 70273 Project exhibit at the University of Central Missouri, the exhibit has been extended to the end of the year. The exhibit is open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm  Monday through Thursday. Thank you, Dr. Clifford-Napoleone for all you continue to do to share this historical story, and thank you for these striking photos. I look forward to being back on campus this fall to talk to classes and your quilt guild and host a block drive.

Sacred Threads

5 white quilts covered in pairs of red X's hanging on a black background

The 70273 Project Special Exhibit at Sacred Threads 2019. Thank you, Sacred Threads, for including us and for this photo.

The Sacred Threads Exhibit opened last week, and The 70273 Project is honored to have a small Special exhibit amid some of the most amazing and powerful quilts I’ve seen in a long while. I’ll be there this week, so if you’re in the area and can come by, let me know when you’ll be there and we’ll make arrangements to meet. Oh, and my quilt Playground of Her Soul will be there, too! Can’t remember if it’s in the Grief or Joy section. I asked Curator Barbara Hollinger to decide on which side of the fine line she wanted to include it. I also created my eyes in cloth, and that piece is part of the Eye Connections exhibit.
For specific information about the exhibit – like where it’s located, the hours, and registration – visit The 70273 Project Calendar

KC Studio Article

2-page spread of magazine article featuring a quilt from The 70273 Project

KC Studio / July/August 2019 edition

The 70273 Project is the subject of an article on page 26 in the July/August 2019 edition of KC Studio – an online periodical covering the Kansas City art scene. Bryan LeBeau interviewed Amber Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., Director of the McClure Archives and Museum on the campus of the University of Central Missouri, he interviewed me, and he visited the exhibit.  Thank you, Bryan, for being so thorough in your research, and thank you KC Studio for including us.

MoFA Stories of Importance Exhibit

Nancy and I are plum tickled to have two pieces juried into the Stories of Importance Exhibit at the Missouri Museum of Fiber Arts.  Playground of Her Soul and In Our Own Language 3 will soon be on their way to Missouri for the exhibit that runs October 31, 2019 to December 13, 2019. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be there for the opening reception and Juror’s Talk from 5 to 7 pm on Thursday, October 31. If you can come, give me something to look forward to by letting me know.

That’s All for Now, Y’all

pair of eyes made of fabric
I had my fourth eye treatment last week (July 10, 2019), and though there’s some improvement, impaired vision continues to slow me down. It’s true that we exceeded our goal of 70,273 commemorations before our third anniversary – Y’all are AMAZING – and it’s also true that  there’s still much happening in The 70273 Project, so stay tuned cause you’ll want to be part of things we’ve got coming up. I just know you will. Here are some of the ways you can stay in the know . . .

70273 Welcomes Improv

white cloth embellished with pairs of red X's

Touch Quilt being Quilted by Debra Jalbert. Photo by Debra Jalbert

Note from Jeanne: I first met Debra Jalbert of Made of Honor Quilts in July 2017 at a meeting of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. I was there presenting a 70273 Project trunk show, and Debra took home two bundles and turned them into quilts. She also made a mini (postcard-sized) quilt and is currently working on one of The 70273 Project Touch Quilts, created especially for people with visual impairments, young children, and those who are more tactile learners.

In May 2019, I signed up for Debra’s  The Improv Experience  workshop offered at the C+C Sewing Co in Orlando, Florida. Recently diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, I needed to prove to myself that I can still do and learn things. Sarah Lauzon, co-owner of the C+C Sewing Co, 70273 Project Ambassador, and friend, remained close without hovering throughout the day, always available if I needed help. One of the best things Sarah did that was incredibly helpful to my low vision was put a brightly-colored child size bandage on the plate of the sewing machine to mark the 1/4″ mark. Oh, and did I mention that I got to use her sewing machine that once belonged to her grandmother and her granddaddy before that? Yes, really. Stay tuned for that story in a blog post coming soon.

woman holding a white quilt covered with pairs of red X's up in front of a neon pink flamingo

Debra holds The 70273 Project quilt as the pink flamingo looks over her shoulder

Debra used one of The 70273 Project quilts she made in the morning’s demonstration part of the day-long workshop, weaving it in seamlessly into the essential core of improv quilts. The workshop was so informative and entertaining, I asked her to write this blog post. Please help me welcome an active member of The 70273 Project, Debra Jalbert!

woman holds up a black and white quilt

Debra displays one of her improv quilts

While organizing my sample quilts for the class, I included a 70273 Project quilt to return to Jeanne since she was attending the class. That’s when I noticed that it perfectly fit into the class themes. The three major points of the class are: improvisation, collaboration, and working with a theme that includes palette limitations. The 70273 Project quilts fit this definition exactly!

The importance of collaboration was a major talking point throughout the day. What an opportunity to inspire one another through a quilting project! We created a safe environment to make mistakes – on purpose even – and then we actively shared what was learned. Freedom to work out loud was encouraged. We worked alongside one another and outside of our own head, gaining value through the opinions of others.

black and orange quilt

Another of Debra’s improv quilts. Her stories about how these quilt take shape are captivating.

What a terrific time to improve our quilting and relational skills! We certainly wanted to sew our best for our own projects and when sewing for someone else, but we don’t all have the same level of experience or the same way of doing things. Actively talking about what good communication looks like during the class helped with group cohesion and gave us moments to extend grace. We equally discovered ew sewing techniques by giving and listening to constructive advice.

Good and healthy communication is a practiced skill. Encouraging each other to give appropriate feedback with kindness and receive suggestions with grace may not always come easily or be our first reaction. Why not practice them in a safe, creative environment then take them out into our daily lives?

book with quilts on the cover and the word "Quiltcon" with each letter in a different color

Cover of the QuiltCon Catalog and Schedule, borrowed from the QuiltCon web site

Thank you, Debra, for a wonderful, confidence-building workshop. Debra will be teaching a full-day workshop at QuitlCon 2020! Here are the particulars:
~ Go to the QuiltCon web site.
~ Find the QuiltCon 2020 Catalog and Schedule
~ Select the “View PDF Schedule”
~ Read about how to register, then scroll down to find Debra’s information on page 51: PIE001 / Sewing Tiny: Piecing with Tidbits / Thursday, February 20 from 9 am to 5 pm

The 70273 Project at the Minnesota Quilt Show Next Week

a few white quilts stacked one on top of the other

a few of the quilts headed to Minnesota

The good news is: the  Minnesota Quilters Show happens June 13-15, 2019, and The 70273 Project will be there as a Special Exhibit. The bad news is:  I will not be there this year because at the last minute, my third eye treatment had to be rescheduled on June 13, and since I’m out of commission that day and up to three days after, well, do the math. It just won’t work this year, and I’m heartbroken. Many quilts will be there, though, and  I made sure to send all the quilts I had available that contain threads of Minnesota.

red x's in a clear plastic bag, paper, tape, white quilts

preparing to ship the quilts


Ever wonder how I prepare quilts to ship to a Special Exhibit? Well, get a life . . . I mean, just pull up a chair cass I’m about to tell you.

It’s not unusual for it to take me 12 hours or more to get a shipment of quilts ready and on their way. First, I pull the quilts that have connections to the place they’re headed. I wasn’t able to get all of the quilts with connections to people who live in Minnesota because many are in exhibits elsewhere, but I sent every one I had in inventory. On a form I created, I note the quilt number, the dimensions of each quilt, and the number of commemorations in each quilt. I send that to the Special Exhibit Coordinator who  does the math, figures out which quilts will best fill the space they have available, then sends me back the list of the quilts they want

After giving the now-don’t-any-of-you-take-it-personally-if-you-weren’t-selected-this-time-cause-it’s-not-about-you-it’s-all-about-the-numbers-(and-nobody-here-is-fat), I pull the requested quilts – something that will be made much faster and  easier when everything is entered in The Database. That’s something you can do from anywhere in the world, so if you know you way around a spreadsheet, are on good terms with your computer, and are willing to pitch in and help, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Peggy Thomas who is our Fearless Leader of the Data Angels. She’ll tell you everything you need to know and get you the information you need to get started. And if you’re already a Data Angel, thank you.

Back to our blog post, already in progress.

Once I’ve checked the pulled quilts against the please-send roster at least 3 times to make sure I didn’t leave anybody – I mean any quilt – out, I put the quilts in clear plastic bags for protection from the elements. I use the handy-dandy form I created to note which quilts are in each box, keeping a copy for me and tucking a copy inside each box as a packing slip. On the handy-dandy packing list form is printed in large bold letters my contact information as well as the contact information for the intended recipient. I revise the information and print out copies for the Special Exhibits Coordinator to use for the return trip.

If two quilts share a plastic bag, I tuck a note inside the bag telling which quilts are in that bag. (A seeming waste of time task that has come in handy more than once, believe it or not.) The paperwork for each box goes in page protectors to protect it from the elements, and I include clean printouts of the paper work for the return trip along with more clear plastic bags because I tape the bags shut which means the receiver will likely have to tear them open, rendering them unusable for a second trip.

Before sealing the boxes, I label them on the outside as Box 1 of 3, Box 2 of 3, Box 3 of 3, and so on. I decorate the outside of each box with something colorful (and hopefully entertaining) so if one box should miss a traffic light and get separated from the others, I can tell folks on the receiving end what to look for.

a brown box on a black tabletop

the quilts are all strapped in and only one has asked “Are we there yet?” (so far)


Once I’ve checked the quilts in each box at least 3 times (yes, there’s a lot of making a list and checking it thrice) to make sure the information on the packing list is correct, the boxes are taped shut, loaded into the truck, and off we go to find the nearest shipping place (which, if we’re in NC, is at least an hour’s drive away).

And yes, I do kiss each box as it leave my hands (you know I do) and admonish the shipper to take good care and make sure every box arrives safely. (They don’t always listen, but we’ll talk about that another day.)

When back home, I email the Special Exhibits Coordinator and give her the tracking information, intended arrival date, and, of course, my promise to do the tracking myself because she doesn’t need one more thing added to her to do list.


Things I’ve learned about packing quilts for traveling:
~ Like newborn babies, the quilts are happier and safer when there’s little free space for them to move around in the box.
~ All the paperwork is not an expenditure but an investment of time. I don’t want anybody along the way to have no idea what they’re holding and who to call. (Remind me to tell you a story about that some day.)
~ The boxes – even the sturdiest ones – are good for only one trip there and back.
~ Tape is not something you skimp on.
~ I use only clear plastic bags because if somebody sees a sealed dark green or black garbage bag, well, I don’t need or want to finish that sentence for you.

words on a page showing that a package has been delivered

proof positive (you’d think so, right?)


The quilts are in Minnesota, ready to be hung, receive visitors, and greet admirers. I already miss all the people I met last year and everybody I was looking forward to meeting this year.

If anybody who’s going can spend some time in The 70273 Project Exhibit to tell folks about what they’re looking at and feeling (everybody feels these quilts – they really do) and answer questions, that would be better than terrific. Let me know  and I’ll tell you some of the most frequently asked questions along with my phone number so you can call me any time. And hey, y’all promise y’all will send me pictures.

plastic bags containing white cloth in a blue container


So that’s the shipping process in a nutshell. If you have other ideas and information about shipping, if you have contacts with the major shipping companies, if you have a good source for shipping supplies, if you’d like to exhibit some quilts, or if you’d like to become a Data Angel  let me know. And if you’d like to don your wings and join the Monthly Angel Members to help cover the cost of not just shipping supplies but the actual transit costs (and a whole of of other things, for that matter, cause yes, there are 70273 Project expenses), use the donate button in the side bar or send me an email, and I’ll tell you how and where you can make checks.


Meet Quilt 423

a white quilt covered with pairs of red X's is displayed beside a waterfall

Allow me to introduce Quilt 423 of The 70273 Project.

a box made from a carton of drinks sits atop a white quilt covered with pairs of red X's

As one who once taught book and box making workshops, I chortled gleefully when Miss 423 arrived in her own handmade chariot, complete with a (still-uncompleted) subtraction worksheet turned protection flap! The box is made by the same creative hands that picked up the quilt top last year at the Minnesota Quilt Show and finished it into this quilt: Rhende Hagemeister, a woman who’s as much fun as she is talented.


“The tears flowed most of the time. I thought about each pair of red XX’s and vowed to honor each one – their names, their families, their lives – blowing in the wind for us to remember and honor. They spoke to me.” ~ Rhende Hagemeister


a white quilt coverd with a varity of pairs of red X's

The knowledgeable and talented one named Teddy Pruett pieced #423 who measures 38.75” wide by 60” high and commemorates 47 souls. Data Angels from around the world are busy entering information on each block and quilt, and as soon as they’re done (and there are several backups of the . . . landscape-oriented table cause the word “spreadsheet” sends me into a fetal position in a dark room!), I’ll be back to tell you who all has a block in this beauty. For now, enjoy the photos  (especially the one of the front that’s being held up by The Engineer in what I’ve come to call The Steve Maneuver, named after Kim Monins’ husband who held up many, many quilts throughout Jersey, Channel Islands (U.K.) and help me thank Teddy, Rhende, and all the as yet unidentified Makers for their contribution to The 70273 Project. And hey, if you’re willing to become a Data Angel, let me know. It’s something you can do from the comfort of your own computer anywhere in the world.

If you live in the Minnesota vicinity, mark your calendars ’cause The 70273 Project, The Engineer, and I will be back at the Minnesota Quilt Show in Rochester this year. See the calendar for details. There will be many quilts that were touched by hands from Minnesota on display for the first time this year, so be sure to stop by and see them and let me call you “Sugar” to your face.


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The 70273 Project on Exhibit at the University of Central Missouri till August 2019

two men and a woman stand in front of a projected image

University of Central Missouri President Roger Best, Ph.D. and Provost, Mike Godard, Ph.D. welcome Jeanne to campus

4/25/2019 GOOD NEWS UPDATE: The response to the exhibit in the McClure Archives and University Library on the Campus of the University of Central Missouri has been so successful, the exhibit has been extended through December 31, 2019! If you’d like to take your group (think class, guild, organization, family), let me know or contact Dr. Clifford-Napoleone at the museum directly. And now we return to our blog post, currently in progress . . .

One month and 27 days after being sworn in as the 16th  President of University of Central Missouri, Roger Best, Ph.D. appeared before me during mic check, introduced himself, and when I thanked him for stopping by to introduce himself, assured me he was staying for my presentation. And he did. The theme of Best’s inaugural address was “milestones” (something the University of Central Missouri enjoys a lot of). Important note and hint: His wife is a quilter. I look forward to meeting her when I’m back on campus in August.

two women stand in front of a glass display case filled with white quilts covered with pairs of red X's

Jeanne and Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., Director of McClure Archives and University Museum in front of a large display case filled with quilts of The 70273 Project

Thanks to the efforts of Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., the Mules (I LOVE their mascot)  of Central Missouri have yet another milestone for their history book. More than a year ago, Dr. Clifford-Napoleone, Quilter and Director of The McClure Archives and University Museum, asked to host an exhibit of The 70273 Project quilts, and so, as of March 29, 2019, The McClure Archives and University Museum is home to the first exhibit of The 70273 Project on a college campus as well as the largest (more than 100 quilts on display) and longest-running (March to August 2019) exhibit of The 70273 Project to date.

6 women and 2 children stand smiling

Jeanne with The 70273 Projecteteers Anne Bolin Street, Shari Gilliam, Veronica Johnson, Becky Collis,  Becky’s grandchildren Averi and Cassia, and Denniele Bohannon

Two women and two girls hug and smile

Jeanne and Becky Collis with her granddaughters, Averi and Cassia. The girls are ticklish. Ask me how I know.

Besides President Best, Godard, and Clifford-Napoleone, the Dean, various organizational chairs, students, professors, citizens who work with Veterans, local quilters, and community leaders filled the room.  Aaaannnnddd, some 70273 Projecteteers came and sat on the front row! It was great  fun to call these Tribe members “Sugar” to their face.

My presentation kicked off Politics and Social Justice Week and the opening of The 70273 Project Exhibit. Due to my eye problems (that have since been diagnosed), my daughter Alison went with me to be my eyes. She recorded this video of my presentation with no tripod! It’s been almost a month, and her arms are still shaking, so yes, I’m getting a tripod before my  next presentation.

woman adjusts microphone

Alison won bonus points with the rest of the family for catching me in this visual short joke.

Fantastic questions followed my presentation, and after 25 minutes, the Q and A session had to be cut off because (a) I’d assigned homework to a lot of people that was due immediately following the presentation and (b) there were refreshments waiting down the hall.

6 when line the stairs. Painted on the riser to each step is the word "welcome" in different languages.

Y’all know I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to capture a photo with my new friends on the stairs bidding visitors welcome in a variety of different languages.

After enjoying refreshments and good conversations, we walked back to The McClure for what we all came to see: the quilts on exhibit. Dr. Clifford-Napolone’s students did an outstanding job of hanging the exhibit.

open door covered with signage about the Archives and Museum and the exhibit

quilts on display, white covered with pairs of red X's

3 rows of white quilts covered with pairs of red X's

quilts on display in a glass-from display case

small quilts on display

Minis of The 70273 Project were displayed in glass cases. Mirrors were used so that both sides of the Minis could be seen by visitors.

The exhibit is open Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm, and it’s up through the end of August, so be sure to get by there and prepare to be mesmerized.

It was an honor and a thrill to be on this beautiful campus, and I look forward to being back there in August of this year for block drives, chats, and story swapping with students, classes, and community organizations. Amber and I are doing some calendar coordinating now, so check the calendar or subscribe to the newsletterand/or the blog for details.

Thank you for having me in Missouri, y’all. It was SO much fun.

If your campus or class or organization would like to have me visit to hold a block drive, speak to classes, do a presentation,  just holler.

The Eyes Have It . . . For Now

shades used after eye dilation sewn to strips of green fabric woven together adorned with multi-colored stitches

I begin to need more light, more contrast. Then there is not enough light or contrast or magnification. I cannot read emails, magazines, menus, road signs. I notice that things seem to bend. Hard, immovable things like trees and boards on the back of trucks. Initially blaming windshields, I flick that excuse aside when realizing that every windshield in every car, truck, even the rental car I rode in at the University of Central Missouri could not be made of defective wavy glass.

Big gray shapes begin hogging the view from my left eye, making it impossible to see anything smaller than the sky. True, the shapes are interesting in form, true, I sketch them out with thoughts of stitching them One Day, but mostly they are annoying. I can’t see through or around them.

At the 6-week mark with no improvement, things become alarming.

Monday, 4/1/2019

With whispers of “in sickness and in health” tickling my ears, I celebrate the 46th anniversary of the day The Engineer and I became engaged by moving “get eyes checked” to the pole position on my substantial to do list. I begin our rare ten consecutive days at home by calling a nearby ophthalmologist I find online. As the scheduler searches for an open widow, she says, “Oh, we’ve just had a cancellation for tomorrow morning at 10:30.” I take it.

Tuesday, 4/2/2019

This morning I draw the Destroyer Oracle Card: “Releasing what is potentially destructive. Preparing for new life.”

Prepared for a diagnosis of cataracts and actually looking forward to being treated because to a person, everybody who’s had cataract surgery tells me they’ve never been able to see better. They even get to design their own vision, most choosing a lens for distance and inexpensive, over-the-counter reader glasses for reading, computer, and hobby work. I have a plan. All will be well.

Not being able to see is exhausting.

Not to mention frustrating.

The ophthalmologist doesn’t follow my script. Scans of my left eye show a lot of blood, so I am met not with a choice of replacement lenses, but  with a referral to a retinal specialist. As the opthamologist’s scheduler searches for the next available appointment, she says, “Huh. There’s just been a cancellation tomorrow at 1:30.”

Shaken, I take the cancellations as a sign. The retinal specialist will scratch his head and wonder how this ophthalmologist managed to get my test results mixed up with someone else’s or come up with such a creative diagnosis.

Wednesday, 4/3/2019

This morning I draw the Beggar oracle card: “Confronts empowerment at the level of physical survival. Awakens the spiritual authority of humility, compassion, and self-esteem.”

Two years ago, I presented my daughter with a quilt top and a promise to finish it asap. Ever since, she chides me lovingly, wondering where she finds “asap” on the calendar and wondering when will she enjoy sleeping under it. Before presenting myself at the retinal specialist’s office, we purchase threads for that very quilt. I’m not being morbid, I simply resolve to amp up and bring to cloth all the images I carry around on the inside.

I go through a repeat of all the tests from the day before and some new ones at the retinal specialist’s office, and while my visual acuity is much improved in the past 24 hours. there is more blood. In the next 12 minutes, we move quickly from tests to the dreaded “wet macular degeneration” to talk of me being in a clinical trial to actually meeting with the clinical trial manager.

Unsure if the rush is because of my vision, the progression of the disease, or of getting me in the clinical trial. I leave the office with my head spinning and my heart reeling.

Thursday morning, 4/4/2019: The Day After

I wake and am able to see better than I have been in over a month. Ignoring the images I was shown yesterday, I think thoughts from the denial column like “Maybe they’re wrong” and “Maybe my eyes were just tired”. I give myself a day of slow ease, a day that quickly becomes filled with emails, phone calls, text messages. Thanks to the efforts of my brother-in-law, I get a second opinion and decided to go ahead and apply to be in the clinical trial. The screening will the place Tuesday morning, 4/9/2019.

“Your imagination is your super power.” 

My friend Joyce texts me this reminder, and as we both know and have talked about before, there’s a flip side to imagination: fear. “Fear comes with imagination,” Thomas Harris writes in Red Dragon. “It’s the price of imagination.” Imagination is not entirely a benevolent creative tool. Imagination has a torturous side, cluing us into the worst that could happen. “Fear is often just the imagination taking a wrong turn,” writes Mary Ruefle in her chapbook, On Imagination. True to form, my imagination glides from denial into fearful overdrive, flapping around unchecked, frantically shouting “Sure, you can write without seeing, but how will you live if you can’t stitch?”

Cue my internal chorus

With denial and fear beginning to fade, my internal chorus warms up and begins chanting their ever-familiar refrains of  “You ought to be ashamed of yourself because you know good and well that people are dealing with much worse” and admonitions to “stop that pity party right this minute.” Continuing my plan to honor what comes, I listen to the chorus then bid it shush, pointing out that I have never and will not start now using other people’s circumstances as comparisons to shore myself up and feel better about my situation. My diagnosis doesn’t diminish their pain, and I refuse to use their pain in an attempt to diminish mine.

Having ridden this beautiful rock around the sun quite a few times, I don’t throw myself a pity party, I simply take the emotions as they come. Fear. Sorrow. Embarrassment. A pinch of Pity. They come, we talk, they leave. No angst, no wallowing, and fortunately, no overstaying their welcome.

Without apology, I delve into my secret stash of chocolate. More than once.

Friday, 4/5/2019: The Day After The Day After

Knowing that things are piling up in my absence from the computer, we go into town and buy me a pair of reader glasses that I wear behind my prescription reading glasses, and while I can see somewhat better, I still struggle to make out even the enlarged words on the screen, tire quickly, and take frequent eye rest breaks. And so it continues for now.

Note: “I’m going to rest my eyes a bit,” my grandparents used to tell me. Silly me, I thought they were using code for “I’m gonna’ take a nap.”


If you are part of or wanting to become part of The 70273 Project Tribe and are waiting on quilt labels, bundles, a reply to your email, or something else, please accept my apologies for my tardiness. It’s now Sunday, 07 April 2019, and I’ve been working on this post for several days. Taking the aforementioned eye rest breaks take time, Reading a screen filled with words in 40-60 point fonts takes time, too, as there’s room for no more than 5 words on the screen at a time. That one caught me by surprise. I will get my daughter Alison to proof this (she surprised me by coming up to spend several days with me!), mash the publish button, rest my eyes, then move into the studio to begin checking in blocks and quilts. Replies to emails may have to wait till tomorrow. We’ll see.

The 70273 Project is an international endeavor, amazing in the magnitude of geography, numbers of people, and kindness. With my whole heart, I thank y’all for using your imagination as a force of good – for showing me the patience, understanding, kindness, and compassion you continue to show those we commemorate. Your good wishes comfort me, your continued petitions for healing encourage me,  and stories from your personal experience fortify me.

Updates to follow, I promise.


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University of Central Missouri, Here I (Um . . . We) Come

woman with pewter colored hair and red heart-shaped glasses stands in front of a white quilt covered in pairs of red X's

The largest exhibit to date of The 70273 Project quilts will be on display at The McClure Archives and University Museum on the campus of University of Central Missouri from March 28 to August 24, 2019. More than 100 quilts of all sizes will be on exhibit at The McClure – including lots and lots of blocks and quilts made by residents of Missouri – making this  the largest exhibit since the International Quilt Festival in November 2017. Thank you, Amber Clifford-Napoleone, Ph.D., Director of The McClure and Associate Professor of Anthropology (and she’s a quilter, too, me thinks) for making this happen.

Jeanne to Deliver Opening Lecture

On March 28 2019, I’ll deliver the opening lecture at 11 a.m. in Elliott Union 240 with a reception following at The McClure. Both are free and open to the public. If you can be there on 3/28, promise you’ll come be in the audience for the lecture and stay for the reception so I can call you “Sugar” and thank you to your face.

Hours, Directions, and Parking

The McClure is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday to Thursday. You can find more info on the calendar.

Elliott Union is located on the northeast corner of Holden and Clark streets, on the campus of the University of Central Missouri, approximately 50 miles east of Kansas City.

Free visitor parking is available in visitor parking lots. HERE is the link to the campus map.

Sacred Threads or Bust

little girl's white dress with sash sewn over a black quilt filled with colorful stitched scribbles

closeup of the white dress sewn onto a black quilt covered with colorful stitched scribbles

As many of you know, I stitch the marks of my sister-in-law Nancy in my spare time. I’m tickled to tell you that Playground of Her Soul, stitched selections from Nancy’s first five sets of drawings,was recently juried into the Sacred Threads exhibit (don’t you love the name?) and will be headed to Herndon, VA where it will be on exhibit from July 11 – 28, 2019. Do make plans to visit because it promises to be be an amazing exhibit. And let me know when you’re going ’cause if we’re there at the same time, I sure would love to call you “Sugar” to your face.

The 70273 Project Special Exhibit at Sacred Threads

There will also be a Special Exhibit of a few quilts from The 70273 Project on display there, and since it’s within spittin’ distance to Washington, D. C., please let me know if you know anybody who’s connected with the U. S. Holocaust Museum. Barbara Hollinger, Curator of Sacred Threads, had the good idea for me to invite people from the U.S. Holocaust Museum to see The 70273 Project quilts on display there and to hopefully get the ball rolling towards an exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

Visit the calendar for more information about the Sacred Threads exhibit and more. Hint: if you click in the upper right hand corner of the page where it says “view as” and select the option for a “list view”, it makes it easier to find things. At least for me it does.

Eye Contact: Making a Connection

If you’d like to be a part of Sacred Threads, there’s still time. When The 70273 Project was a Special Exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in November 2017, Barbara Hollinger had a Special Exhibit of the most exquisite wind chimes right next door to us. We met, Barbara and I did, and as we talked about the importance of meaningful conversations,  we both had a flash image of eyes. You know how it goes, we shared goosebumps and descriptions of what we were seeing in our mind’s eyes, and Barbara took that exchange home with her and made it part of this year’s Sacred Threads exhibit. If you’d like to make and send some cloth eyes, here’s how.

Celebrating Our Third Birthday With a Block Count Update

white cloth with two red X's on top

Where it all started: Block 1

Three years ago, I had a  big, fat, crazy idea to commemorate the 70,273 disabled people murdered between January 1940 and August 1941 under a program called Aktion T4, Knowing I’d think myself out of it if I didn’t move quickly, I got a few things done then  mashed the send button on a blog post. Here we are, three years later, with a shiny new block count update that I think is gonna’ make y’all smile real big.

When people ask me how this all got started, I tell them the truth: I planted a field of digital dreams . . . a.k.a. wrote a blog post, sent it out, and y’all came, your arms filled with love, compassion, kindness, and pairs of red X’s.

For the past three years, tens of thousands of us from 140 or more countries have come together, sharing the stories from our lives and the tears of our hearts. We have forged deep, lasting friendships that transcend cultural, geographical, and language differences and distances. We find that we have much more in common than what separates us, and we now know with absolute certainty that there is more goodness, more kindness, more compassion in every corner of the world than there is hate. We have proven that love and respect makes it possible to love and learn from those whose lives are not the same as ours. This is big, y’all. This is big.

So is our new block count.

Drum roll please . . .

I am honored to know y’all and tickled beyond words to tell you that as of today, the block count for The 70273 Project stands at . . .


You read that right: in just three years, The 70273 Project has commemorated 72,055 people. I hope you’ll take a minute to let this seep in, get your heart around it, then share your responses and reactions. I also hope you’ll know how hugely grateful I am to each and every one of you. Like I said in my first blog post about this big, fat, crazy idea: I could never do it by myself.

Here are a few pictures of the quilt that took us across the goal line:

A Middling by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers commemorating 5500 people (Better pictures to come)

Closeup of the Middling by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

I know y’all like the back of my hand by now, and I can hear you asking these good questions:

But we’ve commemorated more than 70,273 people . . .?

I know, I know. It’s rather stunning right now, isn’t it? Here’s my answer to the question that will eventually form into coherent words: Though we don’t have a firm count, we know that there were far more than 70,273 disabled people murdered during World War II. Some estimations as high as 300,000. The reality is that I cannot store an infinite number of quilts, but for now, it’s as simple as this: we keep stitching; we keep sharing; we keep honoring.

What if I still have blocks to send? What if I haven’t finished my quilt? What if our group is planning to make a quilt?

You keep stitching and send them to me just like always. (Note: I will soon be adding a Checklist for Sending Quilts to the web site, so stay tuned for that.)

Will you continue to hold Block Drives, do presentations, attend Special Exhibits?

Oh you bet I will. I have been asked to take The 70273 Project to college campuses, museums, quilt shows, and all sorts of gatherings this year and beyond, and I continue to say “Yes!” So if your group, church, school, scout troop, organization, college or university, or most any other kind of gathering would like me to visit with quilts in hand and stories in the heart,  let me know. i’m delighted to be asked and welcome the opportunity. And I’ll continue showing up with block making materials at every presentation so folks can stitch while I talk and to host block drives before and after my presentation. We’ll do just like we’ve always done: turn the blocks into a quilt bearing the name of your organization on the label.

What now? What’s next?

We’re not done yet, but today we celebrate each other, the people we commemorate, and what can happen when good people join together for a good reason. More to come, so keep your eye here on the blog so you don’t miss a thing.

Um, you promised party favors?

I sure did, and here they are. These ready-to-share-in-social-media badges were created by 70273 Project Ambassador Sarah Jespersen Lauzon, so help yourself. We have them in English, French, and German.

(On a Mac,  command key, click on image, select desired destination. On a pc, right click on the image and select your desired destination.)

Here they are in English:

In French:

And in German:

Thank y’all again for rising to this monumental challenge. On we go to the next chapter.


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