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The Tempestry Project: Local woman creates art showcasing Global Warming crisis

By Staff | Jan 31, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — Jessie Ward’s Christmas gift for herself was a crafting kit. But unlike other kits, this one had more of a purpose than just for decorative use.

Ward is a member of a nationwide Facebook group for knitters and crocheters, and when she saw a picture of another member’s finished Tempestry, she knew she needed to do the project herself.

On Jan. 14, Ward announced she had completed the project, which is now prominently displayed in her home.

“I just completed a crocheted piece, as a part of The Tempestry Project, that is a tangible and visual representation of climate change,” Ward said. “There are two rows for every year from 1880 to 2018. The colors of each row represent each year’s temperature deviation from the global average.”

The Tempestry Project sells kits with detailed instructions and pre-cut balls of yarn in each of the colors, which, in the final product, clearly showcases how hot the world’s average temperature has become over the past few decades. Each kit uses KnitPicks’ Wool of the Andes Worsted yarn and temperature data collected by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and weather stations around the world.

From right, seven-year-old Jackson Ward and three-year-old Josephine Ward stand by the tempestry, which their mother is using as an educational tool for them. Courtesy photo

Although the Tempestry kits may be uniform, each crafter’s finished product may vary, according to Ward.

“Some people will mark historic events on their tempestries or other dates that are significant to them. I chose to turn mine into a family tree,” Ward said, mentioning paper tags can be ordered with the kit, which can be placed to identify those moments in time.

As a crafter, Ward decided to not only personalize the project by marking the name and birthdate of each of her and her husband’s family members, but to also personalize it by hand-stamping metal plates with the information, instead of using the paper tags.

“I worked on it, pretty intensively, so it took me about a week to make the Tempestry itself. It took me a little bit longer to make the metal pieces, because I had to stamp each letter in individually,” Ward said about the three-week project. “Looking at it, you can see a little below the middle there’s a much lighter section, and that section was World War II, and I thought that was very interesting, how something like that can really affect our climate. I imagine the industrial efforts behind the war, to make the machinery and weapons that were used for the war, caused it.”

According to Ward, the most noticeable change in the Tempestry started 40 years ago.

The metal plates on the tempestry list the names and birth dates of Jessie Ward's family members. Courtesy photo

“The temperatures really started changing around 1980. That’s when the warmer colors in the Tempestry really take over,” Ward said. “I think one of the main things that people need to be aware of, is how quickly things have changed. How drastically the temperatures have increased, just over my lifetime. And that will keep continuing, unless we do something about it.”

For individuals who would like to start making a difference in the fight against Global Warming, Ward recommends using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, reusing plastic products and recycling.

Ward is also open to crocheting a second Tempestry for display in the Shepherdstown Visitors Center that would feature dates in Shepherdstown’s history, if a community member would be interested in helping cover the cost of the Tempestry. For more information, contact Ward at 443-624-5034 or thelasteast@gmail.com.

To learn more about The Tempestry Project, visit www.tempestryproject.com.

The Tempestry Project sends a package of pre-cut and labeled yarn and instructions to help knitters and crocheters master the project on their first try. Courtesy photo