ProjectsCommunity Based – Camp SEE (2006) in Liuzhou, China

The Friendship Tapestry for Camp SEE (2006)

The “project in a suitcase” format was designed for transportation from America to China where it served as one facet of an English as Second Language summer camp for high school students. Cloth, thread, beads and paper slips with words of good will between the citizens of the Sister Cities of Cincinnati and Liuzhou all were crafted into a large tapestry designed by Jan Brown Checco and her daughter, Amanda.

  • Prior to the workshop in China, Jan designed the system for the embroidery frames and assembled them, cut all fabric into rectangles, and gathered 200+ greetings on paper slips from Cincinnatians.

  • The finished tapestry with all pockets attached. The backing cloth was designed and silkscreened by Amanda Checco, Jan’s daughter, who was the workshop assistant. The circular labyrinth in the center of the canvas was hand beaded with imitation pearls, with the words YOU in the center and ME in the top center edge, in pinyin/Mandarin. All of the squares were first embroidered with a motif of choice by the student artists. Next the squares were sewn, faces together and turned to make a clean square with one open side which was handsewn shut after the student translated the English phrase on the slip into Mandarin, and tucked into the pocket. Each artist understood that the slip of paper they received was handwritten to them by a Cincinnatian.

  • The participating students ranged from 5 years to 18 years of age.

  • Linda Lin and April Xin were Jan’s Chinese workshop assistants. They helped with machine and hand sewing, and facilitated all communications and operations.

  • Two of these ancient sewing machines expired while serving in the project. They were generously loaned to us by families of the Camp SEE faculty.

  • Though we had believed we’d have junior high and high school students working on the project, we also had daily help from younger children who were related to Camp SEE faculty.

  • A core of daily workshop volunteers faithfully fulfilled the repetitious and helpful tasks required to assemble the tapestry.

  • Detail of the beaded and embroidered pockets

  • English language instructor Susan Hathaway of Cincinnati came to the workshop frequently during her free period to help finish the tapestry which was created in 10 days. This “Workshop in a Suitcase” format has potential for many kinds of lightweight materials and portable tools projects.

  • A student traces the path of the the labyrinth that leads from YOU to ME.

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