Fabric wall hanging to celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas 75th

Watercolor sketch of St. Thomas Aquinas gesturing toward scenes from the Easter story by artist Jo Myers-Walker

The watercolor sketch provides a guide

A large easel holds pencil sketch by artist Jo Myers-Walker used as a guide for wall hanging celebrating 75th anniversary of St. Thomas Aquinas church in Ames

Large easel for a large project

Detail of pencil sketch showing figure of St. Thomas Aquinas and doves in flight used as a guide for fabric artwork by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Detail of part of the pencil sketch

I’ve been working on an 8′ x 12′ fabric artwork as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames, which I attended for many years and still stop by when I can. According to the church’s website, “St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center was incorporated on April 8, 1947,” with Rev. James Supple as its first pastor.

The church left it up to me what to include and I prayed about what I wanted to say. It’s an educational piece, with its Biblical scenes telling the story of Easter. I did a lot of research and looked at Old Masters paintings for reference on theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, who is gesturing to us from the bottom right. I started out with a watercolor sketch to plan out the composition. The watercolor served as the basis for a full-size pencil sketch, which could then be translated into “painting” using fabric.

Detail of fabric artwork by artist Jo Myers-Walker showing several people assisting in the placement of fabric doves

Many hands helping with
placing the doves

The scenes are created by sewing the shapes out of different fabrics. I knew I couldn’t work with the full size of the piece on my sewing machine so I broke the design down into four sections, with attention to matching up shapes between the sections. There are many different textures of fabric, from kimonos, scarves, and purses from all over that were donated, and scraps from a quilting friend. It’s not sewn completely tight, so some of the edges pop up. My fabric-artist friends decided that the work would fall into the category of Improvisational Fabric Wall Hanging.

People have asked how I knew what to do, and I feel that I was guided — I was only a participant. The project was overwhelming — too huge — so I was trusting God to guide me. I would dream a section and the next day look at that section and know what I was supposed to do. I’m looking forward to sharing more pictures of its progress!

Artist Jo Myers-Walker shown working at sewing machine and placing fabric pieces to create wall hanging depicting scenes from the Easter story

At the trusty sewing machine; adding another piece of the puzzle

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