Dear ASDP Board

Paying it Forward: Redistributing a Treasure Trove

06/06/2016 6:35 PM | Anonymous

ASDP volunteers Carol Kimball, Carol Phillips, and Pat Bornman have been responsible for passing on a generous donation by Richard Murray. The fabric had been collected by his late wife Naomi; he had kept it for twelve years before he was willing to part with it. Murray lives in Parker, CO, 25 miles southeast of metro Denver. The two Carols are from central and southeast Denver and Pat drove down from Boulder.

Family members had winnowed the stash down over the winter, but more than 50 boxes remained. These contained uncut fabric lengths of a decades-gone quality from the U.S. and Asia, dating largely from the 1970-80s:

  • Couture-level wool bouclé, silk and wool tweeds, tropical worsted flannel, double-faced wool knit, silk crepes, voile, cotton satin (the latter from China)
  • Fancy fabrics including lamé, embroidered laces, brocades, laces, silk taffeta, panné velvets, hand-embroidered silks and linens
  • Print novelties, “decent ordinary" cottons and cotton blends in pants- and blouse-weight wovens
  • Upholstery and drapery yardage, heavy terrycloth, sweatshirt fleece, fake fur suitable for stuffed toys Knits (including 2 lengths of Qiana and the expected double-knit polyester)

The three women had been part of the Colorado Chapter's field trip to the Avenir Gallery in Fort Collins the previous month, and were delighted to see "Mr. Blackwell" on some of the packaging.

Dr. Murray drove from his assisted living apartment to his home, but as the storage was down a flight he stayed in his vehicle.  He does not have email and has been pleased and touched by the handwritten thank-you notes he has been receiving.

Kimball, the initial contact, preempted what could be made into pajama pants for the kids at The Oglala Lakota Reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota and took wovens for the sewing program run by Jerome and Theresa High Horse (who retired back to the reservation and channel many resources into the badlands). Kimball also grabbed half a dozen lengths for personal use.

After Phillips and Bornman earmarked their preferences, everything needed to be hauled out and the bulk of the original stash distributed. Fortunately there was a chair lift that could take four boxes at a whack.

About 10 boxes were reviewed in early May at the ASDP couture class at the Career Education Center, a division of the Denver Public Schools. Individual class participants made their choices, and the rest was left there with Katherine McMann for use by her students.

Phillips is further distributing the wealth by ferrying boxes to chapter meetings as well as letting members visit the mother lode in her sewing area. Whatever is not selected over the summer will be delivered to CEC once school resumes in late Aug early Sept.

Anything left in Kimball's studio after she and her intern have gotten at it will be donated to ARC (a Colorado organization similar to Goodwill). All of us have felt honored to share in this tremendous resource and are grateful to put to beneficial use as much fabric as possible.

If you have a similar opportunity, we have these suggestions:

  • Before agreeing to participate, make sure that the dispersal is not a snap decision which may cause hard feelings. In this case, the widower and several other family members planned ahead for our involvement.
  • Know where contributions can go from you: into your own worthwhile projects, or known programs such as CEC or Pine Ridge, or a local quilting charity, or even a thrift store such as Goodwill or ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens)
  • Be respectful of family members. Remember that deep emotions can be triggered when (relative) strangers walk out with objects closely associated with a deceased person.
  • Not every stash will be filled with treasures and many items will not be to your taste. Do the necessary sorting somewhere private, whether at the collection location or in your workplace.
  • Provide printed slips with the donor’s address so that recipients may send thank-you notes!

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