CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chris Piper's quilt "One Single Tear" will be displayed at the quilt show with the poem (see below
) that Piper wrote in March 2005 in Iraq.
Chris Piper finds that quilting helps ease life's stresses and used it to relieve frustrations while serving in Iraq
Scraps of cloth and leftover bits of thread are all Chris Piper needs to create a masterpiece. Her friends tease her, giving bags full of scraps for her birthday. "They think it is funny, but I've made full quilts from those scraps."
'Kaleidoscope of Quilts'
On view: Friday to May 14, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday
Place: Linekona Academy Art Center
Piper is the featured quilter at "Kaleidoscope of Quilts," the Hawaii Quilt Guild's annual show, opening Friday at the Linekona Academy Art Center.
Carol Khewhok, curator of the art center, expects nearly 100 quilts will be on display. "We never know what to expect," she said.
"Some are baby quilts, some are bigger than my apartment. There is quite a range of styles -- some are traditional, some are modern, crazy and contemporary. There are big ones and small ones. They cover all bases."
Piper has an array of designs, from kaleidoscope and multimedia quilts to appliqué, "stack and whack" and Hawaiian.
As a girl, Piper learned to sew alongside her mother. By the time she reached middle school, she was making her own clothes. Sewing is her form of meditation and recreation. "When I sit and sew, it is just relaxing."
In college she began experimenting with quilting, using remnants of fabric from clothes she had sewn. And her sewing continued, even after she joined the military more than 33 years ago, with an Army scholarship to attend nursing school.
While on active duty in El Paso, Texas, she donated a couple of sewing machines and a trunk full of fabric scraps to a battered-women's shelter, keeping only one sewing machine for herself. She figured her new career would leave little time for recreation.
The one remaining machine broke during transit to her new post in Maryland, but Piper couldn't stay away from her hobbies for long. All it took was a visit to a fabrics store to buy a button. A colorful kaleidoscope quilt hanging in the entrance amazed Piper, so she headed to upstairs to sign up for classes. After a while she was teaching classes herself.
Piper's quilts run from political to just plain fun. One quilt is woven together with whimsical, colorful faces, the hair was made from bits of thread and recycled materials. Another, "One Single Tear," reflects her time in Iraq and includes a poem; both will be displayed at the show.
Piper now works as a mental health nurse assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center. She was deployed to Iraq in 2005. "I found a machine over there, and my friends would send fabric," she said.
Piper squeezed in two to three hours a week to work on her quilts, before bed. "It was a good way to work through stuff ... get frustrations out."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chris Piper, a veteran quilter, will be featured at the Hawaii Quilt Guild's show.
Another quilt, "Some Gave All," will go to Piper's 25-year-old son, Darin Crozier, following the show. He would rather she not sell it, which pleases Piper. "He was not always so fond of my work. He used to say, 'Why would anyone buy a perfectly good piece of fabric, cut it all up and sew it again?' "
But Crozier is the one who provided Piper with a better sense of composition. "I had trouble with the lights, mediums and darks. He would move stuff around and it really helped."
Visits to Tripler's Quilts 'N Koa shop introduced Piper to Hawaiian quilting and the Hawaii Quilt Guild, established in 1984. She's been guild president for two years and plans an annual retreat in which members from all over come to Hawaii and sew together.
"It's nice to sew with other people -- you get ideas and feedback," she said. The last retreat was held a couple of weeks ago in beach cabins that were transformed into work stations, with sewing machines and tables set with finished and unfinished quilts.
"The industry has grown so much," said Susan Tracy, a guild member who attended the retreat. Her philosophy: "When life gives you scraps, make a quilt."
Piper does just that. Nowadays, she quilts gifts for all occasions, births to weddings to retirement. "I am able to feed my addiction and not spend extra money on gifts."
I see them standing there,
green, brown, hazel, blue
(and all shades in between)
Eyes squinting against the light.
Silent all around.
Focused on one single place
a moment in time
Passing so quickly, as if not seen.
Screaming in its silence.
Intensely changing each forever
not only because of what was lost
what is no longer present
But also for what is now forever
a part of a whole.
Not yet fully known, comprehended,
As they stand together,
Eyes squinting against
A single tear
Pauses, then falls,
Joined as one in silence.