Saturday, April 3, 2010


Last month, I was attending our monthly homeschool art program at the Flint Institute of Arts with my daughters. The gallery lesson was focused on the exhibit of the Quilts of Gees Bend. I have always loved quilts! I love running my hand over the careful stitching...sometimes that stitching is artistic, sometimes it is just practical. I love to think about the fabrics they have a history or were they carefully chosen and purchased for this project? After walking through the exhibit and looking through the related items at the museum's gift shop, I realized that I have the privilege of access to many beautiful quilts that are relevant to my life. All made by special ladies (real cathedral builders in my life)... from different branches of my family...some made in recent years and some made decades ago. All were made with love...what else could define the time it takes to plan and create such an item that can warm on a chilly item that can host a item that can provide hours of play as a fort or roads for toy cars. I would love to share those with you now. And, I hope, to build on this little mini exhibit. Please enjoy!

I must start with the quilt of which I have my earliest memories. This wedding ring quilt was made by my aunt, Jewel Overman Calhoun, and given to my parents as a wedding present in 1965. I have wonderful memories as a child of using the pattern of the quilt as roads for toy cars. I am in awe of the time it took to cut out all of those little pieces and sew them together.

Next, I would love to share with you a quilt that I received as a wedding gift. I remember the night I received it...the night before my wedding, after returning home from our rehearsal and dinner. I walked into the house with my parents and my sister and the quilt was draped over a quilt rack standing in the living room. I learned that my Aunt Opal, my dad's sister, had made the quilt rack herself. That is wonderful enough...but the story of the quilt...My Grandma Overman, my dad's mom, was killed in a car accident in 1961...before my parents ever met. My knowledge of her is limited to only what has been shared over the years by my dad or his siblings as we gathered for cookouts. But, my aunt, Opal Overman Shands, took a quilt top made by my grandmother and completed it for me. I am emotional now as I recall the tears in my dad's eyes when he saw it that night. I love this quilt because my grandmother, Eva May Meek Overman, planned its design, chose the fabrics and stitched it with her hands so many years ago. I love this quilt because my Aunt Opal...the dynamo of the family...held it in her own hands and finished it with care...for me.

These next few quilts do not play such a prominent role in my own memory...but they are special because of the creators and the obvious care and love that has been expended keeping them.

This quilt was made by my mom's paternal grandmother, Tabitha Garland. We don't know the exact time of its creation, but we know it was made prior to 1963, the year she passed away.

The following two quilts were made by my mom's maternal grandmother, Martha Ann Fletcher Head. Again, we are unsure when they were made. My great grandma passed away in 1967. The first quilt featured is a crazy quilt and the second is a block quilt.

Thanks so much for humoring me as I shared these special quilts with you. I have a few others to share in the future...those given to me when my daughters were born and some that weren't immediately available for pictures. In the meantime, I encourage you to treasure any heirlooms you have in your possession from those that came before you. They are part of your story.

Keep warm...


eve said...

You sparked a memory... My mom had a quilt hanging in her bedroom when I was a kid... I wonder where it is now. It needs to be displayed. It is awesome that you know where these quilts came from!

Tracey said...

After being blessed with a few special items from my grandma's daily life, I am obsessed with knowing everything's history and making sure my girls' learn it too. Hope you can track down that quilt from your mom's room!