Plus Sign Quilt and My Discovery of the Red Cross Quilt Project

I wanted to make a plus sign quilt, which led me to the internet for some research.  We are flooded with images, stories, and blips that we register as cool or nostalgic.  We file it away in the back of our minds, thinking one day I will try that, or that reminds me of something I had as a child, or evokes some other nameless emotion.  So it was for me with the new rage of plus sign quilts everywhere.  It is the new symbol of gender neutral and packs a powerful stream of thoughts and emotions, but whose idea was it originally?  This was something I wanted to find out before I actually made anything with this design, as it has become increasingly important to me to be as completely original and authentic as I possibly can with everything I make.  IMG_2831So of course, I went to Wikipedia and various quilt indexes to see who made the FIRST plus sign quilt.   I found that while the notion of a “Plus Sign” Quilt might be a modern one, the symbol of the Red Cross is not even remotely new or original to anyone living today…Especially quilters.  The sign of the American Red Cross, an organization founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, is very well known and recognized as a symbol for humanitarian aide and distaster relief.  So much so that in 1917 during World War I, in an effort to raise money to help with recovery at home, a quilt campaign was established that called anyone who could make and contribute a quilt featuring the symbol of the Red Cross, to do so.  The quilts were auctioned off to the highest bidder and funds were used to help purchase ambulances and other emergency equipment.  A lot has happened since that time, and now plus signs are everywhere.  I felt pretty safe in assuming that I would not be infringing on anyone’s rights to make a quilt featuring plus signs, but the symbol reminds us that there is always growth that can happen after something traumatizing happens in our lives.  It reminds us to have hope for more and to stay strong.  My research led me to realized that the symbol is bigger than me or my creative juices, or one person out there who may have made a plus sign quilt.  It is a symbol, almost universal, to make this world a better place and to help one another.  I decided to try a simple screen print for this initial project.  I really enjoy the process of screen printing, but as with most new techniques, it still remains a bit of a mystery to me.  I printed a large, whole piece of organic cotton muslin with black water-based, non-toxic ink, and made it into a double thick playmat, measuring 60″ x 60″.  Organic hemp denim went on the back, with two layers or organic cotton and bamboo batting inside.  This project sold last year, but I want to make another one day.

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