BEADED BLANKETS STORY – LADDER
By Robert Streeter
Blanket Creators – Sherry Tamburo & Heather Beauvais
“Ladder of Life” by a resident of The Providence House.
In the process of climbing the ladder
to greater heights
Thanking God every morning
For my hearing and sight
Not only that
but for every meal I bite
Because of my flaws
I might fall
But I gather strength
So I can get back up
And climb life’s difficult wall.
Because through it all
God always got me
When I fall.
Blanket creator Sherry Tamburo remembers the evening of October 17, 2015 as this poem was written at the Providence House. It’s a place in Shreveport Common that helps homeless families with children shed the bonds of extreme poverty and homelessness. This night, the residents came together for an art workshop. Shreveport poet extraordinaire Poetic X challenged the attendees to write something about themselves and the Providence House.
One mother (who arrived at the house with her 4-year-old son the day before) took pencil to paper. She spent a considerable amount of time writing, erasing, re-writing. She sat deep in thought. She wrote for a longer time than anyone else. When the mother finished “Ladder of Life,” it inspired Sherry and co-creator Heather Beauvais to come up with the most unique of all the blankets created for the Nick Cave exhibition. They call it “Ladder.”
All of the beads are wooden and strung together with shoestring. Bamboo shoots are the rungs of the ladders. The rest of the beads came from wherever the builders could find them. Some beads came from a $5 car seat cover from the local Goodwill store. The blanket builders used dye pots at Sherry’s workshop to get the contrasting colors. The dark colors represent night and the darkness some start out in. As the ladder goes up, the colors change to reflect the vibrancy of early morning and the sunrise. The greens and blues are for nature and the sky. Originally, the design had a cleaner look with the ladder running from the bottom right to the top left with empty spaces between the rungs. It was decided that the feeling of being taken apart and put back together they gleamed from the poem necessitated a change. The bamboo was broken apart and strung back together. As one is challenged and sometimes broken, one can pick themselves up and reach up for something better.
Like the poem, there were struggles in completing the blanket. Finding wooden beads proved troublesome. If Heather had not found the car seat cover made of wooden beads, this blanket might not have been. While harvesting the bamboo in Shreveport, the car keys fell into the trunk of the car along with the bamboo. When they closed the trunk, they realized the keys were inside the locked car and they had to walk home to get the spare key. A few of the larger beads were challenging. Their shape made drilling holes in them difficult. Some were just unworkable.
After 80 plus hours, “Ladder” was complete. The blanket was the last one they created for the project. Sherry and Heather accomplished their goal of a wooden blanket that matches the beauty of the poem written by someone who made the choice to climb out of poverty and homelessness into a brighter and better life for themselves and their family.