Marigold Designs
Unique Fiber Art
Mary L. Hackett

Pierre Menard Home

Fiber Ornament for The White House
Christmas 2001

by Mary L. Hackett

[White House Christmas. Copyrighted!  Written permission required!]

by invitation of First Lady Laura Bush
Theme: Home for the Holidays

I was amazed to hear of my invitation
to make an ornament for the White House Christmas tree via a telephone call from Carolyn Patterson, Director, Illinois Artisans Program, on July 11, 2001. Four Illinois artists had been approved by Governor George Ryan and nominated by him to the White House. First Lady Laura Bush extended the invitation
and I was honored to accept.

On August 16, 2001, I visited the Pierre Menard Home in Ellis Grove, Illinois, near Chester and across the Mississippi River from historic Kaskaskia,
to begin research on the project.

Actual work on the ornament began on October 3, 2001, with the construction of a scale model made of lightweight pasteboard. Working from photographs and an inexact floorplan, I developed a version of the house which is true to the original structure, down to the uneven spacing of the windows, doors, and stone columns.
A total of 60 hours went into the construction of the piece,
not counting research, documentation, photography,
and development of packaging for shipment.

The Pierre Menard Home ornament was constructed on a framework of foamcore board. It measures about four and one-half inches deep and seven inches long, and is four and one-half inches tall at its highest point. It is covered with commercial printed cotton fabric to simulate the stone foundation, basement walls, and supports.

The siding consists of nubby white fabric fused to polyester batting and quilted in horizontal lines about one-eighth inch apart to simulate wood siding. The porch is covered with red felt and lined with white-painted toothpicks as columns. The porch railing is represented with white paint on clear plastic sheeting. The windows, shutters, and doors are commercial cotton prints and woven plaids, glued or fused to the fabric surface. It has three chimneys and six dormers. All components are
glued together and reinforced with silk pins.

The roof of the house was sewn in the manner of the siding, but of woven red-and-black plaid homespun-style fabric. This was chosen, not to duplicate the current shake shingles of the house, but to employ a roof replacement done a few decades ago for the festive nature of its application on a piece intended, after all, as a
Christmas ornament.

Sealed under this red roof are:

  • a copy of this document,
  • a copy of the letter inviting me to make the ornament,
  • my photograph and contact information, and
  • a brief summary of the life of Pierre Menard and his significance to the State of Illinois and thus, to this project.

[First Lady Laura Bush with the artist. Copyrighted!  Written permission required!]

Mary & Walt in stunned delight, welcomed by Mrs. Bush
White House photographer

This quilted ornament was finished on the 15th day of October, 2001,
and I am honored that it graced the Blue Room Christmas tree
and takes its place in the
White House permament collection.

See the HG-TV show featuring this ornament!
Read about Pierre Menard, First Lt. Governor of Illinois
Local coverage in the Daily Egyptian, SIU-C

Entertaining slide lecture available on how the ornament was made!
and Workshops for adventurous quilters!

See more of Hackett's work

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© 2001 Mary L. Hackett. All rights reserved.