I don’t really know how to introduce this because it’s just so insane. So I’m just going to spit it out: Last month, I had lunch with and spent the afternoon in a back room of a museum studying early 19th century quilts with Barbara Brackman and Merikay Waldvogel. Just the three of us.
Yesterday’s Gee’s Bend workshop at Heritage Hall in Talladega, Alabama was filled with beautiful moments.
China caught me picking apart some fabric strips (which I thought was going rather well), took them from me and just started pulling them apart. Just grab and pull. I would have thought that would warp the fabric or something, but nope. They came apart as if she’d already pulled the stitches out. My table mate and I got a huge laugh at me over that. I really wish I had it on video because it was hilarious.
Of course, China and Mary Ann sang as we worked.
What I admire most about the women of Gee’s Bend is their spirit. These women and their families have known true hardships, and yet they arrive with joy in their hearts and love to share.
They give more than they take.
A lesson for all of us. I have running water, insulated walls, and food in my belly. I’ll bet you do, too.
The Ladies Pettway brought in a bin of fabric odds and ends and we tossed in a few bits of our own. In the bin I found a hand-painted panel depicting pastoral birds, which sent me off in one direction because I had some silly notion that it was meant to be that I work with this thing. Well, I guess it was meant to be in that it taught me that I shouldn’t always listen to silly notions.
Have mercy, y’all… this thing is ug-ly. (Except for the birds. The birds are really pretty.)
But it was terrific fun and felt liberating to sew on something that had no plan, no destination, no pattern, no rules, no deadline. It was freeing. I think I’ll use improv in the future as a way to clear my mind between (or during) more structured projects.