quilt, Ken Burns, video, documentary

“Civil discourse… quilts and films are ways to do that”

Ken Burns, well-known American film-maker, recently revealed that in a lifetime of making films for other people, he was quietly collecting quilts, for his own enjoyment. Then he let them go on public show, at The International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

The whistle-stop tour in under 2 minutes.

And for the threads enthusiasts – the 10 minute version – which also features great footage of how a textile exhibition is mounted.

“The common sharing of our heritage becomes a way in which you can continue to have a civil discourse – and that’s really, really important to me.  And quilts and films are ways to do that.  And that’s been my mission in life.” – Ken Burns

I love it that a man with a camera move named after him (the Ken Burns effect, look for it in your home video editing program) is that ‘into’ quilts, and sees the same attention to detail, colour, line and creativity which he used in his film medium.


Patchwork: Gee’s Bend

After all the fuss about the glorious 1950s abstract paintings was waning, someone got around to recognising the same style in patchwork quilts made by black ladies in Alabama, at Gee’s Bend, for basic human survival.


These quilts are perfect material to cover in this blog – they were made for real life, to keep out the cold in uninsulated buildings; they were made from scraps and offcuts; they were made in the small amount of time women had from family and farming duties.  But they were made bold and beautiful and not prissied up.

One of the favourite books I have is a large format (almost impossible to shelve) book of their designs: “Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt” edited by Paul Arnett.  I just opened it to take some snaps to show what I meant – but I think that’s going to have to be a separate blog post.


Road Safety and Quilt

Branda Mangum (based Northern Florida) made this quilt, in collaboration with John Morse (see earlier post today).

John made the design, but Branda pulled on his skills as master quilter to interpret the design and make it into an 8 foot by 8 foot hanging.

He used 4 inch cloth squares – 784 of them – incorporating the colour spectrum, but with the shape of the pedestrian in black and white squares, like a pedestrian crossing.  It is called “Next Step through the Colors” and was completed as recently as 2015.