Convict Mends Life Stitching Artwork While in Prison

Convict Mends Life Stitching Artwork While in Prison

Ray Materson's autobiography, Sins and NeedlesThe most inspirational stories to me are convicts who transform themselves with some activity or study while in prison. GNN has featured inmates whose restoration came from the practices of meditation, training guide dogs, and by joining a Toastmasters club in prison — which boosted self-esteem and detoured the entire group from re-offending upon release.

Another path to transformation for convicts is through the arts. Ray Materson is an ex-con who found his passion in prison by embroiding tiny works with shiny fibers unraveled from socks. He used the rim of a Rubbermaid bowl for the hoop and started creating sports team logos for himself and fellow inmates….

Today his artwork is in demand and he’s featured on nationwide radio shows. Serena Fenton features commentary on surface design, fiber arts & modern embroidery on her blog, and she tells Ray Materson’s story with links and photos of his works. You will be amazed that these needlepoints are only 2×3 inches. They are incredibly intricate!


One thing Materson says in a Christian Science Monitor article (which rings more truly than a cell phone during a recital), "Creativity is part of our very makeup. A failure to nurture or encourage the creative urge can lead to crimes against others and oneself, such as drug addiction and alcoholism.”

(This is so true. I believe the cause of the "meth" fascination in the midwest is the boredom of the teenagers — who are the very creative types. They are not being given anything to do that interests them. I mean, bowling and snowmobiling and sports are not choices for some of us! These teens won’t feel drawn to recreational drugs if they only have a cool drama club to hang out with after school each day… )

Ray’s story in the Monitor article entitled One man’s spiritual mending tells the whole compelling tale of redemption and features more photos of Ray’s gems and the artist himself. This is a must-read. How did he overcome the anger he felt toward the criminal justice system that had sentenced him to 15 years in prison for committing a robbery with a toy gun? The answer:

He began to reflect on the good memories from his growing-up years: baseball, school, manned spaceflights, and heroes such as John Glenn and John Kennedy. Then he harked back to another positive childhood image, that of his grandmother sewing flower and butterfly designs onto napkins, tablecloths, and pillowcases.

Give Ray’s autobiography as a gift: Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending
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…And, in the future, be sure to send me any links you find about compelling prison rehab.