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The memory maker: New Ringgold woman helps families heal through her artistic endeavor

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    Trina Schellhammer, owner of The Green Snail, is working to create custom pieces for people who lost loved ones to help families heal, while making a piece of art in remembrance of that person. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS

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    Some of the upcycled and custom bowls Trina Schellhammer has created. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    This heart ornament was created using a loved one’s article of clothing. Trina Schellhammer attaches small silver angels to all her custom pieces to symbolize a person’s life. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    Some of the upcycled and custom bowls Trina Schellhammer has created. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    Old shirts and other articles of clothing are used to customize each piece. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    Four custom bowls are seen. They were made using a shirt from a loved one. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    One of the bowls Trina Schellhammer has created. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    This bowl was created using two articles of clothing to create a custom piece. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    The Davis Vertical Feed treadle sewing machine is one of Trina Schellhammer’s favorites in creating custom pillows. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS

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    The Necchi treadle sewing machine is Trina Schellhammer’s go-to machine in making her bowls because it does a perfect zigzag stitch. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS

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    Trina Schellhammer works on some fabric for one of her projects. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS

Published December 02. 2017 12:00AM

 

When a loved one passes, the threads of your heart tear like a seam on a shirt ripping.

Eventually, time helps the pain lessen just like a needle helps close a seam so the article of clothing could be worn again.

Sometimes, holding on to a piece of that person’s clothing also helps mend the heart in different ways. It brings comfort and peace, knowing that while the person is no longer on this earth, there is a little piece of them still with you.

But is lovingly folding grandma’s robe or grandpa’s overly worn shirt and tucking it away in your closet, never to see the light of day again, really the best way to truly remember the person you lost?

Trina Schellhammer believes there may be a better way.

Through her new home business, The Green Snail, the New Ringgold woman is helping people heal, one stitch at a time, while using those loved one’s items to create an artistic piece that can be cherished for generations.

Love one stitch at a time

“For years, I was a memory quilter,” the Tamaqua Area High School graduate said. “That all started because people knew I quilted. They asked if I can do this. So I made memory quilts, but my big thing was it took so many months of work and then there was one item for one person.

“I started thinking what could I possibly do because people cherish their loved one’s clothing,” she said. “I started thinking, how could I do something that would benefit more than just one person?”

After a lot of thought and many nights of praying, The Green Snail was born.

“I came up with memory bowls and pillows, and I am finding out that families would hold on to a person’s article of clothing,” she said, noting that from some items, she could get multiple bowls or pillows to pass on to many families to remember their loved ones who had passed.

“It’s all about getting things out of the closet and out in the open and used and loved. It has a purpose because it is from a loved one. It’s meaningful. It’s something that’s custom and quality and able to be passed down, and you know people are going to cherish it.”

Since starting six months ago, Schellhammer has built a strong social media presence on both her upcycled and custom products, having recently shipped one piece to Hawaii and received another package from Georgia from a young widow who recently lost her husband who wanted something of his to hold on to as she heals.

But of all the items she has received to create a custom piece, Schellhammer admits the most difficult thing she received was a 100-year-old wool Army jacket. Not because of the material, but because she needed to cut it up.

“The hardest thing for me is that first cut,” she said. “To know the emotional attachment to these things, I find myself praying for all the families because you hear the heartbreak, even in their emails, when they tell me their story. It’s an honor for people to put their faith in me. Maybe in a small way these items can bring healing into their life. ”

Schellhammer admitted that she finds her new endeavor both challenging and exhilarating because she gets to bring people in to help them in ways that she would not have been able to do with her other job.

“I find myself getting emotionally attached because they tell me the story behind them. There is a lot of pain out there, especially this time of year. It’s hard for a lot of people.

As Schellhammer develops her skills, she has expanded her items to include ornaments, coasters and more in both the upcycled products, as well as her custom memory creations.

She also purchased little silver angels, which she lovingly attaches to those items from a loved one’s article of clothing to symbolize that her product is more than just a bowl, pillow or ornament.

“It symbolizes a person’s life,” she said.

The working herd

Schellhammer’s creations are also unique in another way because she doesn’t believe in using just any sewing machine to create her masterpieces.

She uses only vintage or antique treadle machines, most nearly a century old.

“I fell in love with old quilts, and one of my friends had gotten an old treadle,” Schellhammer said. “I thought, how cool. The history attached to that machine is awesome.”

She started researching and quickly realized that these machines were built to last and could do exactly what she wanted to do.

Today, Schellhammer has more treadles than she can count, but uses approximately six in her projects.

“I call my machines the working herd,” she said. “Each machine has its specific job that it does really, really well.

“I found an old Necchi and it’s an Italian machine. I drove an hour-and-a-half to get this thing and it was green, and I thought this is so cool. It’s not in perfect cosmetic shape, but the Italian machines are so well-made and they make the perfect zigzag, which is what I needed for my bowls. I can use it for other things, but it is perfect for the bowls.

“Then I have another vertical feed machine that has a full-time walking foot so it’s perfect for pillows and fabrics that are slippery. I have the chain stitchers that you can do embroidery with and then I have one I call Bubba, which is my industrial Singer. He came out of a car upholstery factory so I can sew anything on Bubba.”

She said that it took years to find just what she wanted but has pieced together a masterful collection to get every job done.

Unique like a snail

Schellhammer said that as she worked to create her business, the hardest part was coming up with a name that people will remember.

“I picked the color green because it symbolizes new and it’s a brand-new endeavor for me and because I am an upcycler, so it goes hand-in-hand,” she said. “I picked the snail because the bigger baskets take forever to make and because when you look inside one of these baskets, it goes around and around and around and it reminded me of a snail. Someone also mentioned that it also is like a fingerprint.

“Each of my baskets are totally unique because as I sew them, you kind of form them as you go. No basket is exactly alike. Some are more curved, some are flatter, but they are all unique.

“People don’t realize when you have an artist making something and you buy it you are supporting someone’s dream and someone put their heart and soul into it. I take pride in my work and I make sure it is done right and it’s high quality and it’s something you’re proud of.”

For more information on The Green Snail, on items that can be custom created using a loved one’s article of clothing or for upcycled products, visit https://thegreensnail.com or check Schellhammer out on Facebook at The Green Snail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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