Thursday, 29 June 2017

Two wonderful quilts by the class or 3/4B from Woy Woy Primary School

CONFESSION.... 
Sometimes I just do not have time to write up these fabulous stories... even when someone has done most of the work for me, as in this case, it takes me a while to get around to proof reading it and preparing it for posting. 

This post should have been up a while ago but I am so pleased I got it up before the kids go on holidays.  Hopefully Jess can get the word to Mr Betts as this is a wonderful story and I am so, so proud of the way this class go involved with Aussie Heroes and how they paid tribute to our serving members. 


Class 3/4B you Rock!
Mr Betts, you rock for embracing this project.
And Jess
YOU absolutely Rock. It makes me so proud when people call me the QUILT LADY and I am very proud to share the title with you!

And now the rest of you can enjoy this story......

And be warned.... there was a bit (ok a lot) of dust around when I read this for the first time.


By Jess T .....


My first ever Aussie Hero Quilt that I made was a Summer holiday project with my children. It was a Greek Mythology quilt. My 12-year-old son researched what we should put on the quilt, and then my 7-year-old drew pictures to correspond with the symbols for the Goddesses of Wisdom, Home and Safety. She then carefully painted them with fabric paints. I sewed the pictures together, with some other appropriate bordering and pretty fabric, and a love for making these quilts was born. My kids enjoyed working on this quilt with me, and we had great conversations about why we were making the quilt, who we were making it for. We talked about what we thought our recipient was doing while we were working on her quilt, what she got for Christmas (it was the holidays), and why we still needed a Defence Force today, even though there wasn't a World War happening.



Skip forward another year, and my daughter is still asking to make another quilt with me! So, we spoke to her teacher about the possibility of working on a quilt or two as a class. He was excited, my daughter was excited, but none of us had known how excited the class would be after our first session together. Firstly, I scanned the list for a few weeks to find something the kids could work with - football teams would be too controversial, although I'm sure Mr Betts would have loved for us to work on a Parramatta Eels quilt. Some themes would be too difficult to do with a large group of kids (physiotherapy anyone?), but then three of our Navy boys wanted various versions of Mario Kart characters. A computer game that has been around since I was a kid and still just as prolific among the kids today, I knew I could do something with this!



But first, to get the kids on board (Navy pun, sorry!). We spent one afternoon listening to the kids talk about their family history within the ADF - My Grandpa was in... My Great Grandfather and my Dad's Uncle were in... And what about ANZAC Day? What's that about? Well, they knew about landing at Gallipoli and they knew it happened over 100 years ago. And they knew about the last big war where Great Grandpa fought, but he's old too (kid’s words, not mine!). So I asked them, what about now? Is ANZAC Day just about the older guys? Well, Yes and No. ANZAC Day is definitely a day where we should show our respect for those who fought to help make this country what it is today. A day to remember the freedoms we have, that have been given to us by their sacrifice. But also our freedom, our safety, continues thanks to the men and women that are out there now. Like right now. You know that look on a kid’s face when they are really amazed at something? Their eyes really do widen! And 29 kids simultaneously is quite a sight.



From here, I showed them a clip that HMAS Darwin recently released about life on their boat. I skipped in a little to avoid the shooting practice, but they watched the grey boat float over the beautiful ocean. They watched them in their grey clothes perform drills, take their smaller grey boat out on the ocean and then lift it back on board. And then watched them eat in their greyish dining room. The personalities onboard HMAS Darwin are beautiful, and the kids laughed at them pulling funny faces at the camera, but the kids quite easily picked up on the grey. Whilst it sure is great for camouflage, it’s just a little dull for kids that are used to bright, flashy things! Time for the talk about Aussie Hero Quilts! What we make, why we make them, who we make them for. And then the announcement that they were going to make one with Mario Kart characters. They were so excited, it was fantastic.

We did a quick vote as to who was going to paint which character, which I then prepared for the next session. I printed simple A4 colouring in style pictures of 6 characters, and traced them onto pieces of thick white calico. The kids then painted the pictures with acrylic paints mixed with a fabric fixative from Spotlight. I took the pictures home and painted on the black outlines. Then set the paint by dry ironing them on the hottest setting with a scrap piece of calico so as not to allow any scorch marks to develop. If you're worried about using this method, I have a kid’s shirt that has been around for 18 years, been through 4 children through their pre-school years, so has been washed plenty of times on cold wash settings. Whilst the colours have now started to fade a little, the picture is still very clear, the colours are just more muted. So in terms of use on a quilt, which is generally washed on a gentle setting, I am quite confident that it won't be a problem, but it is a good idea to use a colour catcher for the first couple of washes just in case. 


The kids then wrote letters, coloured pictures and made cards to say thank you to our lucky chosen recipients. But it didn't end there!

I trimmed the pictures and made them in to a quilt, with a colourful border that the kids chose. But the talk around the school about what we had done and how the kids were buzzing, caused a stir! With the ANZAC Day Ceremony at the beginning of Term Two, it was insisted that we show the quilts to the whole school, to make sure that everybody remembered not just our older ANZACs, but our newer veterans and our current serving members as well. The kids proudly displayed their quilts to the whole school to an audible wow, cool, and round of applause. 

For those that are good with numbers, and had also noticed that I said three quilts at the beginning - a quick explanation. I used 12 characters on the front of each quilt (24 total). I then used a character alongside the signature panel on the back of the quilts. The third quilt is still under construction, but will be a larger picture that one child who had a bit of difficulty with the smaller image painted for me. And the remaining two characters will be worked into this quilt as well. So a class of 29 split across three quilts quite nicely. 

Doing this project with the kids has been an amazing experience for both myself, their teacher Paul Betts, and the kids. The enthusiasm from the kids has been completely infectious, and I've stolen Jan-Maree's title around the school, I'm now the Quilt Lady, which I wear with pride. The conversations we had with the kids whilst painting and writing letters etc. where beyond phenomenal. One child painted his character with darker skin, as he has darker skin, but then thought he'd made a mistake, as the human Mario Kart characters have lighter skin. He was incredibly happy to find out that there are people in the Defence Force with darker skin, and that they work with other people from all around the world. He was then proud to have made his a little different, so that the quilt reflected the many different people in the Defence Force. Presenting new ideas to some kids that thought 'people only join the army because they hate the bad guys and wanna kill them', was interesting. Ensuring the Mario Kart female character was included, because there are also girls in the Defence Force was very encouraging. And seeing letters where they say that Thank You isn't enough, is just beautiful. Seeing the kids get enthusiastic about this project, talking with their friends on the playground and having the opportunity to work on this project with the kids has been amazing.

And now, I'm having to teach my daughter to sew, because *just* painting the pictures is no longer enough.





Hey Jess,

Firstly thank you to yourself and the class of 3/4B for the amazing quilt. I am nearing the end of my deployment now and just received your care package and quilt. I also read through all the letters and cards that the class sent me. The coloured in pictures are now stuck up on the inside of my locker.


6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing, How beautiful it all is, Loved how it all came about. Would it not be wonderful if ALL schools did this as part of their education.

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  2. What a fantastic way to make sure that ANZAC Day continues to hold relevance for these kids, and to help them to understand the role our defence force plays, even in peace times. Jess, Mr Betts and the kids should be really proud of themselves!

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  3. Just beautiful! Well done to all. What a lucky sailor he is!

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  4. How amazing is this story. The kids and teacher should be congratulated. Putting thought and memories and of course RESPECT back into the lives of our children. A fantastic story. More of this should happen...

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