A couple of years ago, an acquaintance asked if I would help her family. She told me that they had lost her older brother to AIDS, and then she told me all about him. She told me about what it was like for him to grow up gay in a small town in Texas, and how her family cared for him when he became ill. And she said she and her family had always wanted to add a panel to the Names Quilt Project for AIDS, but none of them had the emotional strength, technical or artistic skills, or the tools to do justice to her brother's memory, so she asked me to help.
I said yes, and then I went to the internet to learn about how to make an AIDs Names quilt panel. And in case you're wondering, each panel, including this one for Carl, measures 2 feet x 6 feet. The panels are not quilted, but they do ask that the makers finish the edges. I finished Carl's quilt with a pillowcase-style back so that it would be durable and more likely to last throughout many exhibits. Here's where you can find that information if you intend to make a panel: http://www.aidsquilt.org/.
I found a sparkly gold trim, and a very delicate gold lamé fabric that, thanks to an anti-fray product, I was able to raw-edge appliqué on the top as stars—one star for each member of Carl's immediate family, with the largest star being his of course. I created stencil circles and used iridescent paint sticks to "light up" the marquee.
I'm told by Carl's family that Robert Redford and his assistant saw Carl's panel on exhibit; and I was glad to hear that. But for me, Carl was the real star of this show.
And what of that acquaintance? She's now my friend.