A decade ago my family gathered in our hometown for the monumental task of emptying our parents’ home of things and memories that filled each room. We needed to accomplish this in a weekend! Fortunately I come from a large family; we were able to share the load of physical labor and decision making: what gets saved? what goes to charity? what gets tossed in the big rented garbage bin in the driveway?
It was by fortune of luck and timing that I happened to be helping in my parents’ bedroom when my sister-in-law checked behind the door to discover my dad’s tie collection hanging on a rack. We were boxing up most of his wardrobe to give to the needy and my hurried inclination was to toss the ties in, also. But Mindy hesitated, ran her hands through the colorful silk designs and said, “Maybe someone could do something creative with these.” I paused, agreed and gathered them into a plastic bag and stashed them in the cabinet of my mom’s old Singer sewing machine (also being saved).
I’m close to my siblings, so it was fun to spend that weekend together at our old home, remembering our childhood. But it was also a harried and emotional time. I’m thankful that Mindy was able to discern the importance of my dad’s ties. It’s not just the beautiful fabric. It’s the memories I have of those neckties that he wore to church on Sundays, to weddings, to funerals. I remember their designs and colors. They’re familiar. My mom shopped for his clothes and made sure he dressed appropriately and looked classy escorting her. Some of those ties had been gifts from us.
On one of his visits to my home studio, my super creative grandson Logan was looking for something to do. I showed him the basket of ties, and we thought of various ideas. If I remember correctly, we thought it would be cool to make an ottoman cover. He loves machinery and enjoyed using my sewing machine, even though he could hardly reach the peddle. But visits are never long enough and our project was left unfinished.
The next time he came to visit his younger brother sidetracked us with so many other fun things to do outside. The tie project was ignored and once again remained unfinished. I decided to let him take the ties home to finish on his own time. I knew he’d have fun with it, because he’s the type of kid who needs to stay busy, always learning new things, interested in new technology. (He laments that he has to finish school while what he really wants to do is start his own business and be a CEO.) Anyway, I forgot all about the tie project until three years later…
A box came in the mail that said do not open until Christmas. Logan had grown up and learned how to use his own machines and researched how to quilt. He had started over from the beginning to design a quilt of his great-grandfather’s ties for me. And not only that – he documented his progression through each step of this process by videotaping his work!
Of course, I was beside myself happy and so touched by his loving gift. For many months I wrapped up in it on the couch in the evenings. But then I realized I was going to cause wear and tear and didn’t want to wreck this work of love and art. It now hangs in the guest bedroom for all to see.
If you have time to watch The Tie Project video you’ll witness Logan’s fearless creativity! I’ve edited 30 minutes down to less than 15, and because of that I needed to removed his voice explaining all his tips and tricks on how to construct this beautiful and sentimental work of art. That’s a bummer, but I added some nice music 🎶