CHICAGO -- Chicago artist and activist Shannon Downey has brought together a global community through one unfinished quilt and a hashtag: #RitasQuilt.
Much of Downey's work begins at estate sales, where the self-described "craftivist" seeks out unfinished craft projects to complete.
Downey studies the work of the deceased crafter to ensure consistency of quality and style. When the project is finished, Downey hopes, the original artist can rest in craft-peace.
But in September, she encountered her largest ever unfinished project: a quilt of the 50 states' official birds and flowers, 50 blue stars, and a U.S. map at the center. Downey had never quilted before and knew the level of intricate embroidery was a huge undertaking, so Downey went to Instagram for help. She ended up shipping fabric pieces to volunteers in more than 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces.