Old photos - new technique | July 11, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Living - July 11, 2008

Old photos - new technique

Sesquicentennial quilt highlights Danville through the ages

by Michelle Olson

Memories and retrospect are the theme of the quilt commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Town of Danville.

Cyndy Rymer, employee and teacher at the Quilter's Inn, constructed the timely quilt with contributions from Marby Bennett who works and teaches with her.

"It was my sole focus for six weeks," said Rymer, an 11-year Danville resident. "I wanted to merge the old with the new and try to bring the quilt to the 21st century."

The inspiration for the project came from Beverly Lane, curator at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, and Ralph Cozine, author, photo editor and museum volunteer.

They had hundreds of photos that commemorated Danville from multiple sources which they passed on to Rymer.

Jane Lewis, owner of the Quilter's Inn, donated all the quilting materials. Then Rymer started sorting the photos.

"I found ones that piqued my interest and started printing them," said Rymer, who has been quilting since high school.

She used photo quilting to construct the historical piece. It is her specialty and she has written three books on the subject. She is also a photographer.

"It's like putting paper through your printer, but instead you use fabric," Rymer said, describing the process.

Then you sew the fabric images onto the quilt. This is the third quilt created for the Town of Danville but the technique makes it unique.

"One-of-a-kind contemporary," is how Lane described the new quilt.

It will be hanging in the historical museum, next to a quilt made to celebrate Danville's 125th anniversary, through the month of July.

The center of the almost 6-foot -by-5-foot quilt is a montage of pictures that make up an image of Mount Diablo. Rymer used a computer program that imports pictures and modifies them in shape and color to build the one big image.

Some of the miniature photos were changed to a brownish color to portray the ground of the Mount Diablo scene, while others have been changed to green for grass, and so on.

Larger fabric photos spaced out by colored fabric make up the square borders that surround the Mount Diablo mural.

"All photos represent past and present Danville," Rymer said. "I chose Mount Diablo because it is one of the most beautiful things about Danville."

She and Bennett agreed it was an exciting project and an honor to be involved.

Bennett has lived in Alamo for 23 years and has been quilting for 10.

The two women met a few years ago at the optometrist where Bennett was working at the time. She found out Rymer was a quilter and they started talking.

"There's an instant connection if you're a quilter," said Bennett.

Bennett started quilting because she wanted to give something to a friend that was meaningful.

"I took a class and I was hooked," she said.

If someone wants to learn how to quilt she believes taking a class is the best way because you start from the beginning.

"If you learn the basics you'll be happier with what you put out," she said. "For me it's therapy. It's an outlet you can loose yourself in. You get swept away."

"It's art therapy," agreed Rymer.

She started quilting in her hometown of Walpole, Mass.

"I brought the obsession with me," she said.

Each woman has her favorite part of the quilting process. Rymer loves to play with color and texture. Bennett likes picking out the fabric for her projects.

"There are no limits in quilting," said Rymer.

The two are currently collaborating on a quilt for the Oakland Athletics that will benefit breast cancer. It is going to be signed by the A's players and coaches and then given away in a drawing. Store owner Lewis also donated the material for this quilt.

Quilting brought these two women together as it has done for many women throughout the centuries.

Bennett summed up their relationship: "We're a really good team and we have fun together."

Sewn history

What: The Town of Danville's 150th Anniversary Commemorative Quilt

Who: Crafted by Cyndy Rymer with contributions from Marby Bennett

When: Displayed through the month of July

Where: Museum of the San Ramon Valley, on the corner of Railroad and Prospect avenues in Danville

Hours: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday