Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 17, 2017

Handcraft talent just sew sew

By Jeff Wilson, Fairfield Ledger publisher | Aug 25, 2011

“When did you learn how to sew?” my mom asked curiously Tuesday night.

She held up The Ledger picture of Rustin Lippincott and me promoting the Northside Strippers Quilt Club quilting contest at the Octoberfest art walk.

“They’re just having some fun,” I said. “I’ll give it a shot. That’s about it.”

Judie Herzog stopped in The Ledger months ago and asked if I’d picked out some fabric for a quilt and try some sewing. The quilts would be donated to my, Rustin’s and Steve Smith’s group of choice. The art walk crowd will be able to make donations presumably based on the quality of our respective quilts. I don’t expect to be a frontrunner and told Judie not to expect much. She was all right with that.

My lack of handcraft skill is pretty well documented.

I’ve tried to re-attach buttons and belt loops and usually get my best results with a stapler.

Even in grade school, teachers didn’t have high regard for my talents. In elementary school art class, we made papier mache puppet heads and had to sew and attach a fabric body. The teacher made everyone thread a needle. A few of us took two or three classes to make that happen. The sewing part went just as badly. I think I received an “N” in art that year. An “N” meant, needs improvement.

My skills were just as bad in junior high industrial arts class.

Homer Kirchoff was a nice, old guy who took a lot of pride in making woodworkers out of young teenagers. He only had about eight-and-half fingers. There were stories about the missing ones, but no one really knew for sure. He had the right temperament to turn a class of students loose on a table saw.

The initial project was a birdhouse. After a couple of bad cuts, Mr. Kirchoff suggested I might be better suited to make a bowl on the lathe. To his credit, he made me feel special to do a bowl while everyone else made birdhouses. I had no clue about the real reason for the switch.

The project went pretty well. I took a few chunks out of the bottom with a lathe tool, but those were fixed nicely with some plastic wood filler. I still have that bowl on the top of my dresser. I believed Mr. Kirchoff when he said I did a good job. I think I got a C in the class, but still get a swell of pride looking at the bowl’s smooth finish.

In eighth grade I wrote a story about Mr. Kirchoff for the school newspaper. I’m not sure he remembered who I was. When I told him about the bowl it seemed to spur his memory. Some of the kids made fun of him, but he thanked me for the nice story. I’d like to remember that he said something good about a promising journalism career, but I don’t think he did.

My older brother spent many of his early working years as a carpenter. My younger brother is a good, home improvement project guy. I relined a shower stall with a fake ceramic tile particle board about 25 years ago.

I probably should thank Judie Herzog for giving me a confidence boost with her quilting offer. I’ll give it my best and hope that’s worth a passing grade.


Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Fairfield Ledger.

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