Monday, July 9, 2012

Making Quilts into Stories

I’m excited to announce the publication of the first volume of my book If Quilts Could Talk. It has been a long time in the making and is finally a reality. I give much credit to Kyra Hicks for incentive and information in her book, How To Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog and her blog
This delightful paperback contains five (5) short stories about my childhood in the rural southern United States and a quilt that accompanies and accents the story. You will find all the stories to be very personal and that is the way I planned it. It is my way of celebrating our strong family and community as well as honoring the ancestors who exist for our success.
In this book only the first quilt-A Day Late and A Dollar Short came before the story. The story is about the quilt, my father, and my regret. The fabrics I used came from the hospital supply company where he worked. The second story is a tribute to all the good times my sister and I had together. It is secretly a story about how poor kids made fun with no toys. The quilt is patterned after one I saw elders making called a postage stamp quilt. They would use the postage stamp as a pattern. It would take them a very long time to create something absolutely gorgeous. I spent a considerable amount of time making the pattern run across the quilt.
The third story is about the railroad tracks. It may be difficult for people in other parts of the United States and maybe the world to know the real meaning that the railroad held for African Americans in the south.  President Jimmy Carter tells a story of the African American people in his hometown being allowed to stand and listen to the radio outside a window in their home to hear the Joe Lewis fight. He says that when the fight ended the people thanked his father and walked slowly away. When they crossed the railroad, you could hear shouting and celebrating clear to the next county.
They did not make a sound until they crossed the dividing line. My parents used to go to the railroad and pick up the coal that fell off the train cars. Countless fathers left home to find work on the railroad. It was a distinctive line of work and source of survival on many levels. The quilt is an Irish chain design using the same size squares as the postage stamp quilt. I added two pictorial squares about the story.
The fourth story is about my aunt; Ms. Marie Ponder. It is because of her that I have this belief that aunts and uncles are very important to the growth and development of young children. Every family member had a clear purpose in the extended family model.  I wanted to honor that role in that story. The quilt is an applique that I made to honor her. She taught me to sew which eventually led to quilting. I pictured her in the type of hat that African American women wore to funerals. I also covered the quilt with charms celebrating her many skills.
The last quilt in this series is my favorite. I remember so well the excitement and pride that went with having a new dress for Easter. And I also remember how great it was to have a built -in best friend in my sister. This story covers several points in a very subtle way (and some not so subtly).  I spent a lot of time designing the dresses on the little girls on this quilt because of my vivid memory of our dresses.
"… As we sat there fidgeting, I felt the tingle of the burn on my ear. My mind flashed back to the day before when I was on the floor at Ms. Henrietta’s house. Ms. Henrietta said, “Sit back in the chair. I won’t burn you again.” The smell of rose oil pomade drifted past my nose. She always used rose oil pomade when she straightened our hair. I wished I could believe that she wouldn’t burn me again. But I knew I was going to flinch every time I felt the heat of that straightening comb close to my neck and she was going to catch my ear again with that hot comb. It never failed…"  Excerpt from “If Quilts Could Talk.”  This book is available in paperback and e-book. I guarantee one of these stories will take you back and make you smile.
I want to encourage all quilters to take the plunge and publish yourself! It's your ride take the wheel.

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