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


Published by commaandco

Poet and blogger at encouraging personal creativity and linking arts and life

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

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