Early last week, DH asked me if I would like to take a "mystery trip" today if I felt well enough. I had my steriod injections (6 places in my back) on Thursday and I usually feel worse for several days until the medication gets through my body. I said OK and looked forward to today. Still a bit sore but up for the surprise. He said it was about a 1 hour drive and I did my best to figure out what it could be. Usually I'm pretty good at guessing but he had me stumped this time. We left and headed west, then north from our home. We ended up at the Flint Institute of Arts at an exhibition of Gee's Bend Quilts. It was absolutely wonderful! There were about 30 of the quilts and a 30 minute video of the women talking about their lives and their inspiration for their quilts in Gee's Bend, Alabama. The quilts themselves are probably not my cup of tea but I can admire the work and creativeness that goes into them. They passed along traditions and techniques slaves brought with them from Africa. These include using large shapes, bold colors, asymmertrical designs, and improvisation (making or creating something without planning). The quilters use everything in their quilts. They are not 'works of art' like we would use the term as far as intricate piecing, coordinating fabrics or even in really close quilting stitches. But they are definately are works of art. How in heavens name could anyone quilt 10-12 stitches per inch on corduroy or denim??? One whole quilt was done in corduroy, wood tweed, heavy flannel and mens suit material. Another was all done out of denim jeans, pockets and all. One of the things that was so moving was when one of the original quilt makers said that when she used clothes that had been worn by her family members, she felt their spirit remained in the fabric and it was like a hug when wrapped in the quilt. These quilts were used on beds, hanging on walls and in front of doors and windows, and on the floor to keep out the cold. They had no money to buy anything so they made due with what they had. These quilts have all be made since the 1930's up until the present. I know I have read several articles in the past in quilting magazines and there is quite a bit on them on the internet. It was a very special day, especially since DH planned it himself. He said he even enjoyed it too. I'm sure he was even happier that there was nothing for me to buy and it was a free admission Saturday!! The exhibit is traveling around the country so maybe it will be near where you live. I highly recommend visiting it if it does come to your area. Now I'm all motivated to do some quilting. Have a great rest of the weekend.
"The materials I use is mostly old material. People loved their pants or dresses, and they have worn out or don't fit anymore. I make quilts out of it because I hate throwing away things, because somebody can use things that people throw away... Old clothes have spirit in them. They also have love. When I make a quilt, that's what I want it to have, too, the love and the spirit of the people who wore it. The work clothes remind you of where you have been and where the Lord have brought you from." Mary Lee Bendolph
Gee's Bend Quilt Maker
Born in 1935, one of 17 children. Started working in cotton fields at 12, only went to school when wasn't needed to work in the fields. First daughter born when she was 14 and she had 7 more children. Did not have electricity until in her 20's and no phone or indoor plumbing until in her 30's.