Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Classroom Canvas Quilt!

Hi, I’m Marin Plank, senior buyer at Discount School Supply. In my 7 years with Discount School Supply I’ve had many opportunities to develop new and unique products, which is one of my favorite parts of my job. Anytime someone asks me about my favorite products, I always think of the Classroom Canvas Quilt.

The idea came from two different sources, the first being one of my favorite art projects from second grade. Every student was given a square of clay to mold onto, decorate and paint, and then the squares were fired, combined and mounted on the wall in the hallway, making a large mural. As I walked past the mural every day for the next 3 years, I always enjoyed finding my own square and seeing how each child’s individual artwork combined to become a large, colorful, cooperative masterpiece. (I think our clay mural is still hanging on the wall of my elementary school today!)

Years later, that image flooded back to me as I was standing in a toy showroom in Hong Kong on a buying trip for Discount School Supply. The toy manufacturer had created a large fabric piece hanging on the wall that had individual pockets for little dolls. Each little doll configured together to make a large display reminded me of my second grade art project, and seeing the fabric background flipped a product idea switch for me.

I really liked the idea of using fabric for a cooperative class project (much more lightweight than our clay mural!), so I sketched some designs for a white canvas quilt that could be easily hung on a wall, with squares that could be attached together without sewing. After choosing a manufacturer, deciding on size and material specifications, and designing an easy system for hooking the fabric squares together with buttons, the Classroom Canvas Quilt was born! I love this item because every child gets to create their own special artwork, and they also get the satisfaction of being part of a communal project with lasting results. I also like that it is so affordable, portable, and easy to assemble.

I will never forget meeting my son’s daycare director for the first time and seeing “my” Classroom Canvas Quilt hanging on the wall of her office. Each child in one of the classrooms had created a quilt square for her, and together the squares made a special gift that she proudly displayed. Another of my favorite quilt activities is creating “thankful” quilt, depicting something that each child is grateful for. It is so touching to see artwork of all the special people and things in the children’s lives displayed together; this makes a wonderful classroom display at holiday time. We also recently had an office crafting day here at Discount School Supply, and the project was to create a company Classroom Quilt. We combined several quilts together, with each employee decorating a square, and now our large Company Quilt hangs on the wall of our conference room. Classroom Quilts aren’t just for kids anymore!

I’d love to hear other suggestions and ways that the classroom quilt has been used. Please share them with me!


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