Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Make It Do or Do Without
After finally getting to see the Quilts of Gee's Bend exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts this past week (which was an amazing experience), I was inspired to make some sort of homage quilt. Then I remembered that I actually had already made one ...
In 2001 I took a class with Roberta Horton at the Houston International Quilt Festival, called something like "African American Quilts". The idea was to re-create a small quilt in the style of the slaves who had no choice in fabrics but what was thrown away or given to them, and of course no modern templates, rulers, or rotary cutters. We were to cut our pieces freehand, with nothing but scissors and our imaginations.
She gave us each a pice of "ugly" green fabric that we had to incorporate with the fabrics that we had brought to class, and we made some simple traditional blocks with scraps, 4 of one block and 5 of another. (The two blocks I chose, Log Cabin and Hole in the Barn Door, are barely recognizable.) On at least one of the blocks we were to alter something in the design – turn one of the elements backwards, for instance - to make it different. The strong vertical lines were important in the African influence of the design, as were the varying fabrics for the borders.
I never liked this quilt when I made it, and it has been sort of hidden away ever since. After seeing the Gee's Bend quilts, however, I've pulled it back out, and it now has a new kind of beauty for me.