Chairs Around (and on) the Quilt
Pictures of Chairs
Before we really got started, a few conversations started up at once. Some were discussing the similarities of chairs in dental offices and hair salons.
Across the table, a few others were looking at pictures of men in chairs. One voice announced, "Oh Mr. Kennedy was our best president!" We all took a look at the president, in his famous rocker. In about 60 seconds the entire table was suddenly arguing about who the worst president is/was! Oh, how I wanted to learn more about their thoughts!
We talked about how chairs were once used in circuses, by lion tamers. Then we studied some photos of tightrope walkers, using chairs and acrobats balanced on crazy stacks of chairs. We built our own chair towers, with colorful plastic chairs.
In both my morning and afternoon groups, we let the small chairs spark memories.
There were more memories of rocking chairs than any other kind of chair.
A Grandparent's Chair
Many associated a special chair with a grandparent or their mother. "Nobody could sit in Papa's chair, but Papa!" "My mother had a rocker like this one. Later, I rocked my babies in that same rocker. I used to sing to them when we rocked."
A Romantic Memory
She continued with a story of sitting on those stools with her future husband... when he proposed. We had a fun time imagining a proposal over ice cream!
Janie loved the park bench and said she had one in her yard, once. We debated for a moment if a park bench was a chair... and was a porch swing, a chair? The group decided... "If you sit on it, it's a chair!"
Chairs for Kids
Everyone loved the potty chair. We heard a few funny stories about potty-training. The doll's rocker reminded June, of Dennis the Menace. We talked about generations of parents using chairs to discipline their children.
A few chairs reminded folks of sitting at kitchen and dining room tables. Were there rules about sitting at the table? Did you ever tip back on your chair? Pull the chair out for an elder relative? Put a phone book on a chair, like a booster seat for a small child?
The tiny Captain's chair, reminded me of the antique chairs that surrounded my family table, growing up. Our old chairs didn't exactly match and each had its own annoying problem... a wobbly leg, a nail that snagged, a warped seat. But I loved those chairs.
The Adirondack chair and the folding beach chair put smiles on a few faces. Some vacation memories were shared, but the chairs also inspired a little fantasizing. We changed our focus from remembering, to imagining.
Pass the Chair
Everyone began talking at once, so I grabbed the wicker chair and said I would start. I held the chair and thought a moment. "I'm imagining that I'm sitting on a wonderful chair, some place special..."
"I'm sitting on my lawn chair, in the carport, looking out at the yard." "I'm in a soft chair with lots of pillows and I've got a warm drink." "I'm on a porch in a rocking chair and I have a book."
What Did I Learn?
It's the familiar that delights people the most. The photos of unusual chairs didn't get nearly as much attention, as the basic rockers and kitchen chairs. The chair made out of books and the Queen's throne were curious, but people were drawn to the photos of the chairs they knew best. Even when allowed to dream of their fantasy chair and place, most chose a chair and place that they remembered.
Our chair theme was simple and all could relate. That is usually the best.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.