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spaces: More wall quilts, less ornate than Mount’s but just as evocative, made by the little hands of children in the aftercare program at the West Broad YMCA and the elderly palms of residents at the City of Savannah’s Hudson Hill Golden Age Center. Depicting scenes of everyday life of the young and old, the collaborative works expressed themes of love, food and the desire for home. Facilitated by West Broad Y program coordinator Molly Lieberman, the story quilt project rippled positive feedback through the Y community, especially those who considered themselves outside the boundary of who an artist could be. Some of the participants had never stepped foot inside an art museum, let alone thought that their work could hang in one. Suddenly, Lieberman, who runs the Loop it Up Savannah youth Lieberman with two of the collective’s smallest makers, Aalayah (left) and Kara. sewing program, heard many requests for sewing lessons. another stitches, many hands to comThe meetings were so popular The young ones and the elders had plete a bed-sized work. that they outgrew the few sewing their chance to create. Why not those More experienced seamstresses like machines Lieberman carried back in between? Tina Hicks, who teaches crafting and and forth from the building. That was “After the show came down, a lot crochet at Hudson Hill, and Barbara when Mount introduced her to the of the moms around here at the Y Morgan, retired special needs teacher Sewing Machine Project, a non-profit wanted to learn how to make quilts,” from Long Island, found themselves based out of Wisconsin that donates she says. “So we started having these teaching others like Phyllis Jones and machines to individuals and commuweekly get-togethers.” Freda Jones how to thread needles nity centers to “mend social barriers” Quilting has always been a metaand calculate fabric cuts. and provide a means of income. phoric and literal expression of com“I literally knew no one in SavanThe project has shipped machines munity, as it almost always requires nah before I got involved,” says Morfrom New Orleans to Sri Lanka, and help: Someone to hold the piece while gan. “Now I have a family.” the makers of Savannah’s West Broad jon waits/

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Y fit the parameters as worthy recipients. “Beth told me to ask for what I wanted —” recalls Lieberman. “And we got the Cadillac models!” interjects Hicks. Those Cadillacs are 10 high-end Bernina sewing machines and two surgers that the group uses to construct the basic parts of the quilts. The rest is sewn by hand. Soon potholders, pillows, placemats, dolls, purses, jewelry and other items were added to the inventory, and the group of amateur artisans evolved into a business collective they call Handmade Neighborhood. Handmade Neighborhood is a social network of women from all races, ages and parts of town. It’s also a way to supplement the incomes of group members, some of whom struggle to support their families with part-time employment and government assistance. Though a handful of members assembled at their old room at the Y for this interview, Handmade Neighborhood now meets every other week at Scribble Art Studio, another validation that their work is valuable — and viable. “I always made jewelry as a hobby, as gifts for my nieces,” explains Phyllis, a part-time crossing guard with tubes of sparkly bracelets decorating

Connect Savannah Nov 13, 2013  
Connect Savannah Nov 13, 2013