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9/11 Memorial Bead Quilt Project

20 years later, and there are still no right words for this event. My heart goes out to the families, first responders, and all who were affected (which is all of us).⠀

This image shows 4 bead embroidered squares, created by Julia S Pretl for the 9/11 Memorial Bead Quilt Project. This was a collaborative effort of hope and healing, with beaded quilt squares created and donated by artists from around the world. The resulting “quilts” are approximately 9 ft square when hung all together. They are a part of the permanent collection at the National September 11th Memorial and Musuem in NYC.⠀

To see the 576 beaded squares created for this project, visit the 9/11 Bead Quilt website. You can view by panel, search by artist’s name, or watch a slideshow of all of the squares.⠀

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Stories of the 9/11 Bead Quilt Squares

Last night I was flooded with memories of working on the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, and the many beautiful stories behind the squares. This project touched my life in a profound way; while it demanded an incredible amount of time, energy and commitment, I can honestly say that what I gave is a fraction of what I got back.  With that said, I wanted to share some of the beautiful, loving efforts that the beading community created during a difficult time <3

I’d like to share this first image in acknowledgement of one of our most dedicated coordinators, Rosa meyer. The bright blue squares (“our beads help…”) were her brain child, and this theme is repeated at the center of each of the 3 quilts. The one for DC has a series of red squares that read “Our beads help to remember the fathers, the mothers”. The one for PA has white squares that say “Our beads help to comfort the sons, the daughters”, and the one for NY (shown here) has blue squares with the words “Our beads help to honor the heroes, the victims”.

Thank you Rosa for your enduring passion and commitment to this project, and for keeping it visible in the (many) years that we searched for permanent placement!

9/11 bead quilt block
“Our beads help to honor the heroes and victims”

The 4 squares shown in this image were created by Julia Pretl, who was not only our coordinator for the MD area, but our (extremely talented) web designer. She helped to problem solve for the BQ project starting from day one, and on up to nearly 10 years later, when we finally secured permanent placement for the quilts.

Thank you so much Julia, for all your help and for putting up with so much of my crazy over these past 15 years!

This block includes squares by our NM coordinator, Nikia Angel (thank you Nikia!) as well as Rita Sova (angel) , Lisabeth Tafoya (in high resolution microbeads!) and the ever awesome Mary Tafoya. Her square commemorates the life of a NM man, Al Marchand, who was a flight attendant on flight 175.


Notice how several of the squares in this block are from Japan? There are many others throughout the quilt, most with the same red/yellow/green pattern as the one in the lower left corner. These came from a group of Japanese artists who worked on their squares together … many of them learned how to bead in order to participate in this project!

This block represents some of the MANY beaded squares collected by our AK coordinator, Jeanette Shanigan (I don’t remember exactly how many AK contributed, but it was a lot! Jeanette will tell you the exact #).

The one in the lower right (by Karen Palmer) showcases one of the most popular designs used in the quilt, a rose/flag motif, designed by my sweet friend Charlene Hughes, who was our CA coordinator.

Next to that (lower left) is a square by Kate Boyan, which especially touched my heart. She has been – and still is – one of my favorite bead artists, so it was a wonderful surprise to me when her square came in! There were many “famous” bead artists who contributed to this project, but to me they were all just good people coming together for a special cause … in her case, I have to admit to feeling a bit star struck!


These two squares by Anne Brazeale of AK are just a small sample of the many squares that we received from Native American beadworkers. I think she is Tlingit, but perhaps one of the beaders from the Mat Su Valley Bead Society will see this and let me know for sure.


There are so many special stories that I could share about these squares, and about our travels with the quilts as we worked to find permanent placement for them! I need to get on with my day today, but I will try to remember to share more of these as time allows. Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who helped with this project – artists, coordinators, supporters, viewers, and more. I appreciate you all, more than I can say.

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10th Anniversary

This picture shows 4 of the 576 beaded squares that comprise the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project that I was so blessed to be a part of. The square in the lower right corner was my (then 8 year old) daughter’s first piece of bead embroidery. Her square, like all of the others, measures 3 inches high by 3 inches wide. By itself, it’s a small token — but collectively, these quilts measure approximately 9 ft by 9 ft. That’s 81 square feet of tiny little beads, woven by people from around the world; woven by people who felt compelled to share their grief, love and hope in response to those tragic events.

The quilts are now in the collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. A few people have asked me if the quilts will be displayed publicly today. Unfortunately, they will not. I misunderstood and thought that the museum would have its grand opening today, but in actuality, the memorial is the only portion that will open this year. The museum will open next year (2012). Until then, you can enjoy these beautiful and healing works in our online gallery. I encourage you to take a moment to view the project today. Remember what happened, pray for the families and survivors, and hope for healing.

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9/11 Bead Quilts are Finally Home!

In November of last year I wrote a post about the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project, explaining that we needed help getting the quilts to their final home at the National September 11th Museum in Manhattan. Between coordinating, creating, exhibiting and finding a home for the quilts, our team has spent nearly a decade on this project! As much as I have loved (and learned from) being a part of it, I really wanted to send it home to the museum by the end of 2010.

Shortly after I wrote that post, the museum contacted me to let me know that they might have some funding available to cover shipping costs. Serendipity? Possibly — but sometimes I suspect that there are angels watching over this project. We’ve been blessed with an incredible amount of “luck” along the way, and this was no exception.

I didn’t post anything at the time, since they weren’t sure if they could do it and I was afraid to “jinx” it. Fortunately, the only setback we encountered was a delay in shipping due to the winter snowstorms on the east coast. In the grand scheme of things, that is no big deal. The quilts arrived in New York at the end of January.

As you can see in these photos, the shipping crates have seen many miles  — how I wish we’d thought to add stickers from all of the places they’ve traveled, like you see on the old steamer trunks! My dad  reinforced them to ensure that they could make this final trip; despite their tattered appearance, they arrived safe and sound.

This has been an incredibly beautiful effort to be a part of, and I’m thrilled that we were able to see it through and secure such perfect placement.

It was truly a collaborative effort, made possible with the help of many many hands. As such, it would be impossible to name and thank everyone, but please know that we are very, very grateful to every single one of you! I would like to give special praise to Rosa Meyer and Julia Pretl for their exceptional dedication.

The 9/11 Museum and Memorial are being constructed at the WTC site in Manhattan. I believe the museum will open by or before the ten year anniversary of the attacks, which is this September. If you get the chance, please stop by and blow the quilts a kiss for me.

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Please help the 9/11 Bead Quilt Project!

Photo by Julia Pretl

Hey folks, I need your help! The 9/11 Bead Quilt Project is my artistic baby. It is an amazingly touching and beautiful work of collaborative art from around the world. Don’t just take my word for it, please take 5 minutes out of your day and go visit the gallery pages via the link above…

These quilts have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial, which is being built on the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. Here’s the catch — the completed project is comprised of nearly 300 lbs of glass beads … so shipping ain’t cheap. Fed Ex (or UPS) will charge about $500 for ground service, and it looks like we may have resources for about half of that already.

photo by Julia Pretl

We need to raise another $250 by the end of the year, to get this project shipped to its final home at the museum. Over the years, we have done some crazy fundraisers — and yes, even begged from the Bead Community — to get the quilts what they needed.  Now that it is nearly a decade after the attacks, and there are so many other cool beady projects going on, fundraising is a lot harder. People seem to have lost interest, and also, there are a lot of other (worthy) groups out there vying for the same donations.

Frankly, I just don’t have the ability to devote the insane amounts of time that I used to, and just this once, I’d like to retain a little dignity along the way (yes, I realize I may have blown that by writing this post 😉 .  I need some creative ideas for how to make this happen WITHOUT burning the candle at both ends, begging like an idiot, or getting frustrated and dipping into my own pocket as I have in the past.

Photo by Julia Pretl

We have considered a Facebook fundraising campaign, in hopes that word will travel quickly … but I’m hesitant to create a “fan page” for something that will ideally be out of our hands within a few months. We have also considered doing Ebay auctions for the last 9 books (limited edition — we will not be printing more). Unfortunately, the last time I did an Ebay fundraiser the results were kinda sad … so I have some hesitancy on that one too. Plus, I worry that we Americans are so inundated with consumer marketing this time of year, that people will just feel overwhelmed or be unresponsive. Still, in the face of all of these obstacles, there has to be a solution. If you have ideas or suggestions for a simple and creative way to raise the needed funds to get these quilts shipped to their proper home, please let me know!

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9/11 Memorial Bead Art


 In response to the tragic events of 9/11/01, I became a part of  The Bead Quilt Project, which is an international collaborative art memorial project that was designed to offer hope and healing to all whose lives were changed on that day. When we started out, I could not have imagined how this project would snowball or how it would change my life. In the nine years since, I have learned so much about the healing properties of art and also about the beauty and resilience of the human spirit!

We invited people to express their feelings in 3″ x 3″ beaded squares, and we were stunned to receive nearly 600 beaded squares from around the globe! These tiny works of art were sewn together to create “quilts” that reflect the full spectrum of emotions and responses that rang out around the world.

The quilts spent nearly seven years traveling around the US on exhibit before we were able to find the perfect home for them. They have been accepted into the permanent collection of the National September 11th Museum and Memorial at the World Trade Center Site. We are in the final phase now, just trying to raise the funds to transport them to their final home in NY. I invite you to visit the 9/11 Bead Quilt galleries today, to enjoy the beautiful sentiments contained in this truly special work of art.

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Remembering September 11th

My travels with The Bead Quilt Project have introduced me to some of the most inspiring people. At the top of that list are the families and rescue workers of 9/11, who remain resilient, hopeful and proactive in the face of tremendous loss. I’ve learned (and grown) so much from knowing them.
We weren’t able to bring the quilts to New York this year for the annual Voices of September 11th memorial… but I’m thinking of all those people, and holding them in my heart today.