Around 1906, at age 11, Jeannette told her mother she wanted to be a priest. Her mother burst into tears and ran out of the room. At Bryn Mawr she wrote a paper exploring the possibility of women becoming Episcopal priests. It seemed unlikely at the time and she pursued a career in science.. She married chemist Jean Piccard, one of her instructors at University of Chicago, after completing her Master's Degree. They moved to Jean's native Switzerland, then to Boston. Jean shared his twin brother Auguste's interest in balloon ascension, and after Auguste had set several records and decided to remain in Europe, Jeannette and Jean began to seek funding for their own balloon flight. In October of 1934, with Jeannette at the controls and Jean recording data, the Piccards reached a height of 57,579 feet, almost 11 miles high. Although they did not set an altitude record, Jeannette became the first woman to enter the stratosphere--the lowest level of "space."
They moved to Minneapolis, where Jean joined the University of Minnesota's aeronautical engineering faculty and Jeannette earned a doctorate in education while raising their three sons and several foster children. Jean died in 1963; Jeannette then consulted for NASA, promoting the space program. She became an Episcopal Deacon in 1971 and enrolled in General Theological Seminary the next year, at age 77. In 1974 she was one of the "Philadelphia Eleven" , women ordained priests in defiance of church doctrine. They let her go first because she was the oldest and had waited the longest. The Episcopal General Convention officially recognized her ordination in 1977. Jeannette served churches in St. Paul until 1981 when she died of cancer at age 86. One of her granddaughters, the Rev. Kathryn Piccard, is an Episcopal priest today.
We've been asked not to post progress photos of these art pieces, so I'll just include a rough image of Jeannette shortly after her ordination:
I really like this picture. From what I've read, she was never a sweet and retiring lady, but worked with confidence and assertiveness all her life. Something in her expression here seems to say, "This is my place." How satisfying finally to achieve it.
I've been invited to display fiber art at Strings Attached, a delightful knitting shop in Dayton OH. I visited there with friend Margot in June and bought yarn, also briefly discussed an exhibition with the owner, Kristin Maddox. A few days ago she reiterated the invitation to Margot who was buying more yarn for her own project. So in October I will fly north with a suitcase full of art.
Thinking about this reminded me of a piece I made some time ago and put aside, dissatisfied. It has a knitted Log Cabin medallion surrounded by silk strips, all with lots of hand stitching. I got it out and added some details, naming the quilt "Log Cabin Prairie".
I think the knitting customers will enjoy the juxtaposition of knitting, crochet and fabric.
Now, I have a couple of garments to make for our trip to Denmark in a few weeks. Time keeps marching on.