LifeBOOK: “Gee’s Bend: the Architecture of the Quilt”


Some books are fictional, some are what I’m going to call LifeBOOKs – books which help you read life.  Books you remember because they open doors, open eyes, make you see and understand things you didn’t before you opened the covers.  I hope to pull some of these down off my shelves and review them now and then.

This book is not just a stunning feast for the eyes, but the story of poverty and in that deprived environment, how a community of women together made essential yet beautiful fabric coverings to keep their family alive in harsh winters.  They grew to love their work – there would even be days when the women pegged out their quilts to air, on a long washing line, and they would do this at the same time, so they could see each other’s patterns and colours.  In a world with nothing, they were effectively having art exhibitions.

Some of the photos in the magazine show the textures of their environment – and this is where architecture and living space around them can influence the quilt – there are broken patterns of gates, wood slats, fences – similar to the broken, uneven patterns in the quilts.

Creative Ideas to Take away:

  • try making things in a group, and talking as you go.  (You can often do this with paint/glaze studios where you come as a group to paint pottery, and chat as you are doing this)
  • if you like sewing, gather scraps of material and sew them in patterns
  • if textiles are not your thing – you can gather old magazines, cut them into strips and shapes used in patchwork – and collage them

Inspiration is everywhere.  “I see the barn, and I get an idea to make a quilt.  I can walk outside and look around in the yard and see ideas all around the front and the back of my house.  Then, sitting down looking at a quilt, I get another idea from the quilt I already made.  When I get an idea and don’t do nothing about it then, I forget it.”  Mary Lee Bendolph

What ideas have you had today – and what are you going to do about it?

If you feel out of ideas – where are you going to look for them?


Book details:

“Gee’s Bend – the Architecture of the Quilt” edited by Paul Arnett, Joanne Cubbs and Eugene W. Metcalf Jr.

Published Tinwood Books, Atlanta, 2006



One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s