Today I’ll be mailing out my third Shwashank Sampler. I’ve always loved the movie, and in 2007, I had the opportunity to tour Ohio State Reformatory, where the movie was filmed. The prison itself is beautiful, both for its original castle-like design and in the haunting, desolate feeling that abandoned buildings and shipwrecks develop over time. For OSR, that feeling began before inmates even left the premises, because all maintenance was halted on the building ten years before the prison actually closed. One can only imagine the effect that kind of negligence had on the living conditions and morale of the inmates. One of the individuals on my tour was, in fact, a former inmate, and it was very clear that his time in OSR had a lasting effect on him – and not in the positive, rehabilitating way the prison was originally built for. We toured the cell blocks, saw the sixth tier where the “ladies” were housed (tourist: “Oh, there were women in this prison, too?” Guide: “No.”), the bullpen, the showers, the Hole, Warden Norton’s office, and the exercise yard. Because of safety concerns, we were not allowed into the room that was used for Andy’s library, but we did get to see a few movie props that were left behind: The false sewage pipe Andy used to escape, some wooden “bars” placed over windows that didn’t originally have them, and the still-broken window to the Warden’s office that Hadley broke when Andy locked himself in with the record player. The trip was really pretty incredible, and I’d definitely recommend the stop to anyone in the area. For the REALLY devoted fans, there’s even the Shawshank Trail, a driving tour of fourteen sites used in the movie.
Ever since I’d first seen the movie in college, I wanted to remake the prophetic sampler that hides the safe in the Warden’s office. I’d looked for patterns everywhere to no avail, but after taking the tour, I finally decided to make my own. I took a couple of screencaps of the movie, broke out my old drafting and rendering supplies, and went to work on the pattern. The first one I made hung in my house for a while, before I decided to let it find a new home. So far, it’s been my most popular Etsy item, which I chalk up to the lasting effect of this amazing film.