On Display at the Smithsonian

Contributed by Dixie

My name is Dixie. Yep, from the deep south … of New England on the Connecticut coast. I have been crocheting and knitting for nearly forty years, the last seven of them in the dark. I also learned to spin a couple of years ago. I just returned home from a trip to Washington D.C., which involved my stitching and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

I was one of the volunteers who crocheted pieces of coral for the Hyperbolic Crocheted Community Reef, which was on display in the Smithsonian until last Sunday, April 24, 2011. I wanted to visit the reef while it was on display.

I guess I should explain what the reef was exactly. It was a three-dimensional reef made up of crocheted pieces of coral. The finished reef was huge, measuring 16 feet long, 9 feet high, and 10 feet deep.

Before going to Washington D.C., I contacted Jennifer Lindsay, the designer and organizer of the reef project, to ask what accommodations were available for those of us who are blind. She told me there were docents on duty with some touchable pieces, and she also said she would come into the Smithsonian when I was there so she could meet with me.

Sure enough, when my husband and I arrived, a docent was on hand with some samples that the public could see and touch. I got to check out a piece made into bell coral, which was very much like one of the pieces I submitted last autumn. I also got to touch a few pieces of dead coral crocheted out of VHS video tape, cassette tape, and plastic grocery bags. The very coolest piece I handled was a jelly fish. I have to find directions to make myself one: it was so very cute!

The reef itself was made out of 4,000 pieces submitted by 800 crocheters, who ranged in age from 3 to 101. There were three submission categories. the first was the healthy coral. These pieces were done in vibrant colors, all shades of reds, pinks, greens, blues, and purples. The second was the bleached coral, the coral that is dead. These pieces were in light neutral tones, various beiges, tans, grays, and whites. The third was the toxic corals. These were worked in found items and trash (like the plastic shopping bags) to show pollution in the coral reefs.

The highlight was touching my own pieces. They fell into the bleached coral category. One was a cream colored bell coral, and the other a tan brain coral with brown spots. When the reef’s designer met with me, she researched where my 2 pieces were placed, and she allowed me to reach into the display to touch them. This was not something others were allowed to do, but an accommodation she kindly made for me.

My husband took pictures of me standing by the reef, pictures of the 2 pieces I submitted, and a picture of the plaque on the wall with the names of all of the crocheters who contributed pieces.

The reef is now going to be moved, but no definite destination has been set. I am hoping it goes on tour to other museums so it can be seen nationwide. Still, it is very cool to say, “I have a couple pieces on display in the Smithsonian!”

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Donna Stouber
    May 03, 2011 @ 19:22:01

    You are the most amazing woman I know. I am so proud to call you my friend for the past 43 years or so! Oh yeah, you crochet pretty darn good too!


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