Make Music to the Lord

Recollections of the artist who created the Chancel Piano quilt.

When I first saw our new piano, my first thought was how incredibly shiny it was — it just gleamed! I was immediately approached by Marg Osmond, the choir director, and Bob Emory, a fellow choir member, about making a protective cover for it. I was delighted to do it, and happened to have all the material acquired at home. We didn't have to purchase a thing! (quilters are famous for their fabric stash!)

I didn't want to make a throw-type cover that might slide around. A piano such as this required a fitted one, something that looked smart and stayed in place. A pattern was therefore needed. So, one quiet afternoon, when I knew nothing was going on at the church, I slipped into the sanctuary, equipped with my supplies. Carefully I draped an old sheet over the piano and weighted it down with hymn books. I carefully cut around the edge, adding an inch seam allowance. I remember feeling a little nervous, as though I was doing something wrong. I realized that I would have to explain what I was doing should someone enter and find me there! I guess it's because they trusted me with such a valuable thing. It was a bit overwhelming. I get the same feeling when I look after someone's child. To be so trusted is humbling, to say the least.

As I gathered up my things when I was finished, I looked around the sanctuary. It was a cloudy dreary Nelson day. The light inside was dim. I pondered the finished piano cover: it would be lifted off the piano, folded, unfolded, and placed back on thousands of times. Many hands would touch it. It would be there at weddings, funerals, worship services, Christmas concerts, receptions... I wondered if someone would see my name on the back and maybe wonder who I was... funny what you think of when you're standing alone in God's house.
Piano Quilt
Apliqué design for the Chancel Piano quilt, by Verna Wright, 1998.

Now the daunting task began! I made many designs, and finally settled on one. I wanted a statement that expressed a musical theme. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord" came to mind. I didn't like the word noise – joyful, or otherwise, it's still noise. Music was what I wanted. Now for the colour. "Black", I thought. It's rich and regal. I have always loved the look of appliqué on black. It has a dramatic air to it. As an artist, I know the moment you add something living to a work, it comes alive. Hence the little singing bird! Flowers are my passion. It was sheer joy "planting" them on the cover.

Many hours were spent cutting, sewing, embroidering, quilting. The project consumed most of my days. I had intended on hand-quilting it, but that would have required more time, so I finished it on the machine. Besides, my youngest daughter was expecting her first child in May. I wanted to be free of the project and rejoice with them, and enjoy my fourth grandchild.

It was with great joy that I delivered the piano cover to my church. They graciously accepted my gift. We placed it on the piano and I was so pleased.

Creativity is truly a gift from God and I thank Him always for the talent He has given me. I will forever let my hands move under God's loving guidance.

Verna Wright
January 2004