“To be born in a place is to be of that place, and to be born in Texas is to be part of a diverse and proud people who believe themselves to be different, carrying on a tradition of a fierce and glorious past.”
Fierce and glorious. This could be the definition of Tana Mueller, the designer of the American Honor collection that has stirred emotions and brought viewers to tears simply by looking at the poignant images from the line.
That’s exactly what happened when the line was first launched at quilt market last spring. Scott Fortunoff, President of The Blank Quilting Corp., was showing the American Honor collection to a shop owner, whom we have affectionately named Soldier S, when she began to weep. She was previously a soldier and the designs in the collection meant so much to her. Sparked by this raw emotion, the brainstorming for the American Honor Quilt Challenge began.
As we wrap up a year-long effort this week with the final voting, we felt it was time to give kudos to Tana. As the designer of the line, she has her own story to tell. She herself has 22 years of public service behind her as a law enforcement officer on patrol, and also as a police academy instructor.
As a matter of fact, when she was putting pencil to paper on her new collection called “Thin Blue Line” ( a tribute to law enforcement), she had to put the crayon down from her own grief. One of the rookies she had trained lost his life in the Dallas shootings on July 8, 2016. It is a sad fact of her past service in law enforcement, but Tana has personally known many police officers over the years that have been killed in the line of duty. When she focused on the work she was doing in these designs for Thin Blue Line they were completed with a new fervor. She has created this collection for the fallen, their families and for law enforcement officers that protect and serve every day. “They know what the job is when they go in,” she says. “And they would all do it again.”
Here is a sneak peek of one image from the collection which will be released in May for sale.
It is very special when your designs move people’s hearts. “There are so many wonderful stories behind everything that has happened since American Honor was released,” she said. She has personally framed and donated several pieces of the fabric’s two lead prints: the cross with boots and the eagle.
“The first prints I received I had the two leads framed and gave it to the manager of the Starbucks store where I often meet with my team. He still works with shrapnel in his back. He held my hand as we walked toward the prints I had set up in the coffee shop, and we got closer and closer his hand got tighter and tighter around mine, he was in tears when he realized these prints were to honor him.”
“Since then I have donated several framed pieces to non-profit organizations that are raising money for their cause, specifically paying tribute to military families,” she said.
Tana’s talent draws further than this American Honor phenomenon. She is also the sole designer for one of her companies, Western Denim and Dirt. These fabric collections typify the western cowboy lifestyle that is so indigenous to the Texas culture.
Her nickname is the “Crayon Lady”. As a matter of fact, on the day we spoke she had just returned from the Blue Bonnet Shop Hop where 8 shops got together and had her create an exclusive fabric design specifically for use with Tana’s fabric crayon technique of coloring on fabric. One block was in each of the stores. Shop Hop participants had to visit each store to collect them all.
She was actually still a little hoarse from talking 10 hours straight doing her demos. “Coloring with crayons on fabric is becoming a big thing here in southwest Texas,” she says. And it directly relates to her fierce pursuit of sharing this art form.
And as for the glorious part of Tana’s reputation? That is far less clear. She is a very humble person, and while the fame that has come with having several successful fabric collections with The Blank Quilting Corporation, she is not one to be filled with pride…except of course when it comes to being from Texas.