Help put together a patchwork quilt for the Newfield Branch Library


The “Open Up”-themed appliqué section of quilt in construction at lead artist Lizzy Rockwell’s studio.

The public is invited to pull up a seat and help form a good, old-fashioned quilting bee. By fall, the result will be a festive patchwork quilt that will hang at Newfield Branch Library in Bridgeport’s East End.

The two-hour collaboration begins 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, Newfield Branch Library.

This collaborative work of art was commissioned by the Friends of the Bridgeport Library and will be led by artist Lizzy Rockwell. Artist fees and all material costs were provided by funds raised by the Friends of the Bridgeport Library.

Rockwell began production on the quilt, themed “Open Up at the Newfield Library,”  in early spring. The artist worked with children to create a thematic piece to help communicate their appreciation of the Bridgeport Library and inspire the same feeling in others.

Library Director Scott Hughes and Library Friends President John Klein coordinated with Eldorado Anderson, the founder of Positive Young Brothers and Sisters mentoring program, and Rachel Smith, the youth coordinator at Hall Neighborhood House, to assemble the young artists and mentors. Rockwell ran eight workshops with 16 middle school students and their mentors over the course of three months, meeting alternately at the Newfield Library and Hall Neighborhood House. Along with providing work space in the community room, Newfield Librarian Diane Antonelli helped guide children to use library resources for their research and inspiration.

Taeana  draws a butterfly during a  creative workshop at the Newfield Branch Library.

Taeana draws a butterfly during a creative workshop at the Newfield Branch Library.

During workshops, Rockwell led a paper collage activity, a butterfly drawing activity and fabric painting, stamping, and stenciling activities. In sketchbooks, children and their mentors brainstormed metaphors in words and imagery to communicate the theme.

Their artwork expresses the many ways that books, computer research, and community activities made possible at the library
can be used to “Open Up” such things as “Your Mind,” “Your Heart,” “Your Brain.” They noted that, at the library, one can “Open Up” and reach potential like a flower or a butterfly.

The quilt is three feet  high and twelve feet wide and will span a wide wall above a bookshelf when installed this fall. The quilt has a central motif, created by the artist, in applique and stencil technique of an open butterfly on an open book, and is balanced on both sides with three-foot-by-three-foot patchwork panels of fabric art created by the children and mentors.

Rockwell is a children’s book author and illustrator with over 30 books published. She is also the artistic director of Peace
by Piece: The Norwalk Community Quilt Project.

Rockwell will be on hand at the quilting bee to teach volunteers how to hand quilt, along with the young artists and mentors. Absolutely no experience is needed to take part.

If you go: The Newfield Branch Library is at 1230 Stratford Ave., Bridgeport, (203) 576-7828

Lee Steele