STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Let There Be Light!

Have you ever heard of Solar Sister? I hadn't. But this exhibit really spoke to me. "Organized by Quilt for Change (, this challenge showcases the work of non-profit Solar Sister ( that helps African women start small businesses selling solar energy products in their communities. Thanks to this, children can study at night, mothers can care for their families and run small businesses and communities can provide basic health care. These quilts debuted at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva,Switzerland. Quilt for Change hopes this exhibit will inspire guilds to use the proceeds from raffle quilts to sponsor a "Solar Sister Entrepreneur" and help her become an environmentally-responsible businesswoman." (Quoted from show brochure)
As I said I found the quilts in this small exhibit very moving. It's a basic concept - how something as simple as a solar light could make such a huge difference for those who live in "energy poverty". I urge you to check out the two links above. Perhaps this is a charity project you might want to mention to your local guild, or to a group of friends. Even a small donation can have a large impact. I plan to make a personal donation, and bring it up to my Guild as well. What a worthy project!!
Perhaps these quilts will speak to you as they did to me...

Power is Knowledge by Lea McComas of Superior, Colorado

"For want of a light the lesson was lost.
For want of a lesson the student was lost.
For want of a student the teacher was lost.
For want of a teacher the school was lost.
For want of a school the viallge was lost.
For want of a village a culture was lost.
And all for the want of a light.

A simple solar lantern has the power to illuminate, not just
the simple family home, but the minds of those within."

Light = Hope = Light by Marianne Gravely of Woodbridge, Virginia

"Our children are both the light of our lives and our hope for the future. While we in the U.S. turn off lights to save electricity, and worry about conserving energy to protect the planet for our children, on the other side of the world children live in energy poverty. No electricity means no reading or studying at night, which limits their educational opportunities. This quilt is my vision of a happy planet with plenty of light and energy for all the children of the world."

Light for Enlightenment by Diana Ferguson of Sweetwater, Tennessee

"Joy is inherent in the human experience, yet it can be worn thin through hardships. Opportunity creates a lifting up of the spirit and makes hardships seem less controlling. Solar lamps are a miraculous part of an uplifting opportunity. To receive the gift of light during the dark hours of the day gives the potential for growth which consequentially fuels a future with hope. Solar light provides extended time for productive work, reading, and family. I find the idea of physical light retained in a lamp from the rays of the sun giving a gift of illumination (both literally and metaphorically) to the human spirit, to be a beautiful, and impactive concept. In this quilt, I wanted to express the joy of life, the gift of the sun, and to give thanks for the power of enlightenment in everyday lives.
Techniques used in this quilt were: raw edge appliqué, piecing, color discharge, free motion quilting, thread painting, embellishment and fabric ink pencils."

Good Day Sunshine by Laura Cooke of Barrington, Rhode Island

"When I read the title of this year's challenge: Light, Hope, Opportunity: Empowering Women through Clean Energy, the image of a benevolent sun shining down on all of Africa lit up my mind. On a sunny day, I hang laundry outside, watch the plants in my vegetable garden grow, and sew next to the window. In Africa, I imagine women enjoying the same sunshine as they work through the chores and joys of each day. Perhaps some are now cooking on solar stoves to give children breakfast before school, or using solar cells to charge cell phones to connect to family, or to light lanterns so children can read and study after dark. Traditional or modern, the sun gives wonderful ways of using clean energy and even a single ray of sunlight can inspire hope.
This quilt is an original design from my initial vision of the sun shining down to blanket the whole continent  of Africa. It is made using commercially available fabrics, raw edge appliqué and free-motion quilting with rayon and machine quilting cotton thread."

Let There Be Light by Jennifer Day of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Let There Be Light is a quilt based on a photograph taken by Solar Sister. This organization graciously agreed to allow me to use this image in my quilt. I love the look of joy on the woman’s face as she holds a new solar powered light.  Her friends and family are near as she experiences electricity at night for the first time.  It is amazing that there are still large portions of the world without electricity. Solar powered light is changing the way people live and is bringing light into their lives.
I printed this photograph on Belgian Linen. I then covered the woman’s face and the lamp entirely in thread. I used 76 different colors of thread in this work of art.  The other faces were brought to life using free motion embroidery. I also used ten techniques of free motion embroidery to finish the background of the quilt."

Behind the Darkness is Light by Dawn Piasta of Dauphin, Manitoba

"The appearance of black is merely a sign of the absence of light. Without light, there would be no sight.
In researching the works of the Solar Sister non-profit organization I was drawn to a dark and mysterious photograph that simply showed the shadows of a group of women radiating from one small solar light.  It made me wonder what things I don’t see because of the darkness.  The strength, versatility, and endurance of the woman behind the light made me curious.  The unseen, the hope, the wonder, the love that is lost to the darkness; I needed to see more.
Radiant chartreuse rays emit light into the pictures that I have seen of solar light sources.  These rays illuminate faces, books, families and homes. From afar all that is seen are the bursts of light.  When viewed from close range these rays bring into view a life that is full of hope and opportunity.
Strips of natural linen and silk fabrics were woven to create a texture to the blackness.  Simple lines were drawn with one highly contrasting color.  Various shades of black thread were used to create shadows and depth. Small crystals reflect on the most important aspects of the process: the light and the eyes of the women – because without light there would be no sight.  Light creates a vision of hope for the future."

Sewing Sister by Allison Wilbur of Barrington, Rhode Island

"When I first met Katherine Lucey, Executive Director of Solar Sister, she told me the story of Teddy the Tailor. Before she purchased a solar light, Teddy Namirembe would walk to the nearby village in Uganda to work at night, leaving her three daughters at home. The simple purchase of a solar light brought so many changes to her life and her business- she has extra time to work since she does not have to walk to the village and back and so her income has increased 30 percent. She is safer for not having to make the walk and her children are not alone at home. Her children also share in the use of the light to do their homework. She is not paying for renting a work space or for expensive kerosene and they no longer breathe in the kerosene smoke. Like most women, Teddy turns the extra money she makes (she sews school uniforms) back into her family and her business.
As the owner of a small quilting business, I can relate to Teddy. I choose to work at home so I can be available to help my children with their homework and take care of my parents. The hours I have to work after dark, after the work of caring for my family is done, are vitally important to my business. Solar Sister is not only important to the entrepreneurs who sell lights, but to many others who buy the solar lights and phone chargers as a part of their small business."


"Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all."
~Hilary Rodham Clinton,  Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing China, 1995


Jennifer said...

Such a worthy project! We take light at the flick of a switch for granted, don't we?

Lin said...

Beautiful work and very moving. Thank you. xx

Pamela Gordon said...

Wow, wow, wow. What an impact the solar lights are making in African communities that have no electricity! These quilts and the meaning behind each one are just amazing to see. I saw something on the news yesterday about backpacks with solar lights built into them for students in Africa. To think we light our yards with solar lights and they don't even have light in their home at night. We take too much for granted. Thanks for this 'enlightening' post, Linda. Beautiful!

Lee said...

I just LOVE the three boys! So dimensional and powerful and joyful. Wonderful that you were allowed to take photos - that's not always the case.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

I hadn't heard of this project but a worthy one it is. We take our electricity for granted don't we, forgetting that people in impoverished countries don't have this luxury.
The quilts are heart warming.

Vee said...

Art! An amazing project...a simple solution for a big problem. Education is so important and I hope that it will mean a big positive in many lives.

Patrica said...

Thank you so much for bringing this very wonderful cause to my attention. The quilts are stunning and inspiring. I love it.

Karen said...

This is a great exhibit, showcasing a commodity we take for granted...and whine about when we lose it for a few hours, even. Thanks for a really thought-provoking post, Linda.

L Bourque said...

Wow! The exhibit is amazing as is the story. Such a very worthy project to bring electricity to these families. You have brought us such incredible photos of the quilt show. Your descriptions and write-ups make it very easy to picture these quilts.

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