A woman named Cher Piché felt moved to create a quilt when she heard about the Miracle on the Hudson on Jan. 15 when Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the river. A few days later a friend sent her a poignant cartoon from the Sacramento Bee, which showed the hands of God (an angel?) reaching under the water to keep the airplane afloat as the passengers walked out and stood on the wings. Cher knew this was the image she wanted.
"I dropped everything to do this," she told me on the phone last week from her home in Strafford, Mo., outside Springfield
She tried to reach someone at the Bee to ask permission to use the image, she said, but her calls were not returned. So she decided to acknowledge the source on the back of the quilt, and she set to work.
She thread-painted the scene onto a batik background. Next she machine appliquéd the airplane and stuffed it for a three-dimensional effect. Then she used pencil crayons for the passengers and details, enhancing the tail and water.
"It's called an art quilt," she explained. "It's not traditional."
She entered the quilt at the Machine Quilters Show in May in Kansas City and it won a ribbon.
"After it had been in the show, I said to my husband, 'This quilt should be hanging somewhere,'" she told me. "He put it on his Facebook, and a lady from Danville contacted him."
The woman suggested that Cher contact the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce, so she wrote to the Chamber, saying, "I hope you will find a place in your city to hang this quilt for people to see and remember this event. Please let me know if my donation is acceptable and where you may decide to hang it- I only want it to be enjoyed."
After some brokering it was given to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, which just happens to have on exhibit: "Quilts: Tradition with a Twist."
"It sure is a twist," said Carmen Curtis, who is on several committees at the Museum. She helped to hang the quilt. "You have to stand back to get the impact of it. It's very touching."
Even after the quilt exhibit ends Sept. 27, Carmen said she hopes the museum finds somewhere at the museum to keep it on display.
Cher said she has been sewing since she was a little girl. I asked where she was raised because she has a charming British accent. It turns out she was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, when it was a British colony.
She had her needlework on display at an art walk in Springfield under the title, "Images of Africa," and described herself like this: "My love of sewing and a natural designing ability have allowed me to run my own business for many years, and quilting has become a passion over the last 10 years. I soon learned I was not a conventional quilter, and branched out into Art Quilts where I could express my creativity! I am inspired by God's creation and love the scenery and animals of the world, which are embellished into my quilts. I do my work mostly freehand on my Longarm machine which has allowed me to express my subjects in a unique style of thread painting."
Cher and her husband lived in Africa for 40 years before moving to the United States 10 years ago. They lived in Cincinnati for eight years and have now settled in Missouri.
She said she understands why she has not been able to make contact with Sully because thousands of people have reached out to him since January. "I dedicated the quilt to him and his crew and I just hope he gets to enjoy it," she said.
She was pleased just to be able to find a home for the quilt in Danville. She acknowledged that she had never heard of Danville before January. She has a niece in the Bay Area but has never been here.
Major events broaden our horizons. How much we learned after Hurricane Katrina about parishes and wards and everything that is New Orleans besides the French Quarter and the Saints. We focused on Sri Lanka and Southern Thailand after the tsunami hit that area so hard five years ago.
And now not only has Capt. Sully put Danville on the map, but a quilter named Cher Piché knows about us and we know about her.
-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.
This story contains 839 words.
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