The Gee’s Bend Quilt Mural Trail

I’ve talked about barn quilts, which I just learned about this year, and a new trend that I am seeing starting are barn quilt trails. These are noted ‘trails’ that take people from one barn quilt to the next, typically as a way to promote agricultural tourism.

Quilt 1- ‘Medallion with Checker Board Center’

Patty Ann Williams, 1898-1972

And I’ve talked about Gee’s Bend. There aren’t many barns in Gee’s Bend, but there is a Quilt Trail! This quilt trail was established in 2007-2008. The quilts are painted by Tyree McCloud on wood and they are about the size of a traditional barn quilt. But instead of being hung on a barn, these are placed around Gee’s Bend close by the homes or home sites where the quilts were made.

Quilt 2- ‘Blocks and Stripes’

Annie Mae Young, 1928-

Yesterday, You might have noticed the stamp poster that I was standing in front of with Mary Ann Pettway at the Quilt Collective. This commerative stamp set was issued in 2006 and these stamps are the inspiration for the Gee’s Bend Quilt Trail!

Quilt 3- ‘Pig in a Pen’ Medallion

Minnie Sue Coleman, 1926-

Quilt 4- ‘Housetop- Four- Blocks. Half Log Cabin’ variation

Lottie Mooney, 1908-1992 

Quilt 5- ‘Medallion’

Loretta Pettway, 1942-

Quilt 6- ‘Housetop’

Mary Lee Bendolph, 1935- 

Quilt 7- ‘Nine Patch’

Ruthy Mosely, 1926- 

Quilt 8- ‘Roman Stripes’ variation or Crazy Quilt

Loretta Pettway, 1942-

Quilt 9- ‘Bars and String- Pieced Columns’

Jessie T. Pettway, 1929- 

Ok, I have to be honest… I was super excited to visit Gee’s Bend, but there’s really nothing else there except the Collective. I mean people live there, so there are homes, but in the way of anything else to do… Nothing… Except driving around finding each and every one of the  wooden quilts on the trail!

They arent’ that easy to find. Most of them are, but there’s a few down different little streets. And I kept turning us around, go this way, go that way, let’s try this road… There were a couple of people hanging out on this one corner and I think we drove by them about 5 times! They probably thought we were crazy! So I kept trying to find roads we could take so we wouldn’t have to keep driving by them while we were exploring, but despite my best efforts, we kept ending up right back at that corner!

Quilt 10- ‘Chinese Coins’ variation

Alonzia Pettway, 1923- 

My Adventure to Gee’s Bend!

Ok, did you think I’d already told you about my southern adventures? Did you think I was done?? Ha! Nope! Not yet! There’s more….

You already know we went there, since I gave away the little quilted pot holder that I got there!

When we were planning the trip over, we had planned to take the quicker route, which would include the ferry ride across the river. If you look online, there are personal phone numbers listed for one of the quilters for more information. But I hated to call her, who knows how many people call her at home! (or so I thought) So instead I called this gallery that sells some of their work in the town of the ferry terminal. They said of course take the ferry and reassured me that it was ok to call her on her personal line. So I did and she was funny and said there’s no reason to take the ferry! So the ride took a little longer, but was way less stressful trying to catch the ferry on time!!

We made it there and our first stop was the ferry terminal in Gee’s Bend where the quilters are all set up. But I guess I got there right at lunch and they kinda seemed surprised that I showed up! There were a few quilting and I sat down with them for a minute, but I had this uncomfortable feeling of interrupting something. So one of the ladies sent me on down the road to the collective! She said, ‘You go out here and then turn right at the house with the blue trashcan. then you’ll see it next to the old firehouse building.’ I repeated it back a couple of times, “The house with the blue trashcan??’ Yes, she said. So off we go… The kicked… Every house has a blue trashcan! Luckily there’s basically only one main road that loops through the little town and we just followed the road around and there it was. Here was where I found the love!!!

Here I met Mary Ann Pettway! She welcomed us in, showed us around and gave my son some peaches! He loved them and he won’t eat the ones I give him….  hmmmm… She was great and just let us look around and chatted with me about quilting. Of course I had tons of questions, but once we got there I was star struck and I lost it all! I couldn’t think of a single question to ask!

One thing she did mention about some of the Gee’s Bend quilters is that they don’t cut, they rip! I’ve tried to get the freedom of piece sizes in a couple of my mini quilts, but once I start cutting I get straight lines, uniform pieces. But it makes sense, if you rip, you end up with pieces that aren’t necessarily the same size. ahhhh… Something I can’t wait to try!

I had a great time looking through the stacks and stacks of quilts for sale! I’ve always loved the corduroy ones and this is a sweet corduroy tied quilt by Mensie Pettway. I have to admit, this was on one of the first ones I looked at and remembered to get the artist name. The rest I got so excited I forgot to write down the names… If anyone reads this and knows the artists names, please let me know!!

My husband and I both agreed on our favorite quilt!! This one with the bright red and yellow corduroy by Mary Ann Pettway. As we were talking about it she just smiled and then I realized it was hers!! It was a bit out of our price range or we would have taken it home. Mary Ann let us know that they do do lay away, but unfortunately that was not helping me at this point!! :)

My other favorite, that was in our price range was another one by Mary Ann. This nice little green and white piece!

Here I am with my new quilt and the amazing quilter artist!

I’m not exactly sure what it is about this house one by Janice Pettway that I love, but I do! I got that one too…

Then of course, my son wanted one, so I let him pick from the least expensive pile. He picked his and then wanted me to pick another one. I told him that I already had my favorites, but he kept insisting that I needed another one. My next tactic was to blame it on Dad, so I told him that Dad said I could only have two. My son’s eyes got big and he said, ‘I’ll go talk to him. I’ll be right back!.’ So off he ran into the other room to work on Dad. Mary Ann and I just laughed and laughed together about this! As much as he tried, he didn’t get me another quilt!

But he did pick out a perfect sized pot holder for his kitchen, which even as he was playing with it the other day he kept referring to as his ‘quilt’!

When we came to visit AL a good family friend gave the book The Quilts of Gee’s Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost Place. As we were leaving I remembered it was in the car, grabbed it and ran back inside and had Mary Ann sign it for me. She signed inside, and then she also signed next to her mother’s quilt that is pictured in the book!

In response to my comments about wanting my quilting to be as free and dramatic as the Gee’s Bend quilts, Mary Ann’s parting words to me were, ‘Keep trying! Keep quilting!’

And that’s what I’ll do!

And check out this video from the loyal I’m Feelin’ Crafty reader Sarah, featuring my pal Mary Ann Pettway!!

Shared with these Link Parties!

And the Winners Are….

First off, Thank you everyone for all your kind words on both of the giveaways!!

And the drumroll, please….

First off, we’ll start with the Steel Quilt Company Giveaway!

 Of the 165 comments, 157 were actual comments and Random.org picked number 107! Congratulations to EightLeggy!

Up next is the Gee’s Bend Potholder Giveaway!

For this one, of the 62 comments, 60 were actually comments and Random.org picked number 52! Congratulations to Leo!

A BIG Thank You to Nathan for giving such an amazing piece for a giveaway! And if you didn’t win, be sure to contact him about getting your own piece…

Or you can contact The Steel Quilt Company via:

facebook

phone, 1 (256) 418-2599

email Nathan at sales.nlw (at) gmail (dot) com

or go right to their shop at the

Big Mill Antiques & Artisans

151 8th St NE

Fort Payne, AL 35967-2601

Thanks again for all the kind words everyone! Since the comments were for the giveaway and I didn’t want to get my comments in the mix, I didn’t respond to them like I usually do. I just want to tell you how wonderful it was to read each and every comment and to read about all the excitement everyone had about each of the pieces!! Thank you kind readers!

A Teeny Tiny Intro to Gee’s Bend

Wow! Honestly, I thought if I know about Gee’s Bend, EVERYONE must know about Gee’s Bend! But not everyone does. So I’ll tell ya a little….

Annie Mae Young, born 1928. Strips, corduroy, ca. 1975, 95 x 105 inches 

I’ll start with a little about me… Ha! I got ya interested in Gee’s Bend, but I’m telling ya about me! hehehe… tricky, huh!

So I grew up in Southern AL, across the bay from Mobile, and my grandmother lived in the middle of AL in a little town called Marion. The back roads were the ones we took to get from one spot to the other. And on the way to my grandmother’s house, there was a sign for Gee’s Bend and maybe a ferry or something, I forget, but I always wondered what was there… Never went…

So fast forward like, 25 years… I had moved away from AL, started sewing… Seeing more and more quilts. But quilts always intimated me. I wondered how in the world anyone made them. Then my confusion got the best of me and I started really, actually looking at quilts. Not just in passing. Then it hit me! Um! Easy! You just sew little pieces together to make bigger pieces then you sew those bigger pieces together until it gets bigger and bigger… But, even though I had figured out how the quilts went together, still quilts kinda struck me as an old lady thing… Sorry, but it did.

Lillie Mae Pettway, 1927-1990. “Housetop”–twelve-block “Half-Logcabin” variation, ca. 1965, cotton, wool corduroy, 77 x 65 inches

Then I saw the Gee’s Bend quilts. It was one of those super Ah Ha! moments for me! It changed my whole perspective on quilting! Seriously! I’m not kidding! I forget the details of that moment, like where I was or if it was a book, a website, or what. But whatever it was, I was struck by the quilting bug! I fell in love and realized that quilts aren’t an old lady thing and they can be anything!!! After that it was all over! I became obsessed and my world was opened to the world of the Modern Quilt and all the bright awesome fabrics. Before I didn’t even imagine that some of the traditional patterns could be transformed into something bright and modern! I don’t know why this had never occurred to me before, but…

So, I have to say that these quilts from this tiny spot hidden away in Alabama is what brought me into the fold of quilters!

Florine Smith, born 1948, four-block strips, ca. 1975, corduroy, 68 x 81 inches.

OK, so back to the point here. Gee’s Bend!

Gee’s Bend is actually just that, a very small town tucked snugly away in a sharp bend of the Alabama River. It’s like a peninsula hidden away in the middle of the state.

image via Samford University Library 

The town is actually named Boykin, but it’s better known by the name Gee’s Bend. The settlement began as a plantation and the quilters began as slaves on the plantation and descendants of these people. The slaves were emancipated, the plantation was no longer, the plantation owners moved on, but the workers and their families stayed and this community has kept going ever since.

Annie Bendolph, 1900-1981. “Thousand Pyramids” variation, ca. 1930, cotton sacking and chambray, 83 x 70 inches

The quilts were made out of necessity from what they had, clothes, work clothes, dress clothes, food sacks, etc… Yes, this probably happened everywhere, right? But it’s the seclusion and the very tight sense of community and the passing down of the art from one generation to the next that makes Gee’s bend stand out among the rest. These things and the amazing sense of color and composition that was integrated into these utilitarian necessities.

Lucy Mooney, ca. 1880-1969. Blocks and strips work-clothes quilt, ca 1935, cotton, denim, wool, 87 x 68 inches.

I’ve read a couple of places that the quilters didn’t see their quilts as pieces of art! They certainly are in my eyes!

My favorites are the Corduroy Quilts! There was a period where some of the women worked in a nearby factory making corduroy pillows for Sears and they would bring home the scraps and make the most FANTASTIC quilts out of them!

Essie Bendolph Pettway, born 1956, multiple columns of blocks and bars, 1980, corduroy, 93 x 75 inches.

The community has been documented over the years for different reasons here and there, but it was in the 1990’s, from my understanding, when the quilts ‘were discovered’ and brought out of Gee’s Bend for the world to see. And for the world to collect! The quilts have been made over 100 years, but it’s only in the last 10 or 15 years that the quilts have made their way into the big fancy museums in NYC and San Francisco, etc….

Linda Pettway, born 1929, “Housetop” — eight-block variation, ca. 1975, corduroy, 86 x 71 inches

Like I said at the beginning, this is just a little… I’m no expert on the history of Gee’s Bend or their ‘discovery’! So please, go to your library and check out all the books they have on them and read about this great discovery story! There is soooooo much more to the story than I can write about here.

Sue Willie Seltzer, born 1922. “Housetop” — nine-block “Half-Logcabin” variation, ca 1955, cotton and synthetic blends, 80 x 76 inches.

All the quilt pictures in this post are courtesy of Tinwood Media via Auburn University’s The Quilts of Gee’s Bend in Context

And lastly, did you sign up to win the Gee’s Bend Giveaway?

Or the Steel Quilt Giveaway?

Friday is the last day!

Gee’s Bend- A Giveaway!

All right! I’m still on a roll with my family’s adventures down South! I’m so excited about all the kind words about the Steel Quilt Company that I found and about the giveaway piece! The Doo Nanny was tons of fun… Our next art stop was Gee’s Bend! This week I can’t wait to show you what I found when I visited Gee’s Bend, Alabama. I had such a great time!! The husband and son… They were very sweet and patient. Honestly, they weren’t nearly as excited to be there as I was!!

And to kick off this week, I’m starting with a Giveaway for a little piece of Gee’s Bend. While I was there I couldn’t help but think about my blog and my readers and I picked up a little piece to share with you! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get ya a full on quilt ’cause they are slightly out of my price range… But I hope you like this little signed piece of Gee’s Bend quilting! I LOVE this potholder!

You can use it as a potholder… Or frame it, since it is a beautiful piece of textile art! It’s up to you!! One thing I loved about everything in the Collective is that each piece is signed and dated by the artist and stamped with their Gee’s Bend Collective stamp!

Ohhh, be sure to check back through the week for more from Gee’s Bend!

Ready to WIN? You have FIVE ways to enter! And come back and leave a separate comment on this post for each entry!

1) Leave a comment below telling us if you’ve ever been to Gee’s Bend and if you’re as obsessed with their work as I am! Leave one comment. (one entry)

2) Become a fan of Feelin’ Crafty on Facebook. Leave one comment. (one entry)

3) Subscribe to Feelin’ Crafty. Leave one comment. (one entry)

4) Share the Giveaway on your blog/FB/tweet. Leave one comment. (one entry)

That’s 4 possible entries! You must comment on this post to win. The giveaway will close on Friday, May 25 at 5 p.m. PST. and I’ll choose one winner using Random.org.

This giveaway is for open to everyone near and far!

This giveaway is a part of Sew Mama Sew’s 2012 Spring Giveaway Day!

This giveaway is not sponsored by Gee’s Bend or any of the Gee’s Bend artists. This is a giveaway that was purchased by myself for my readers. To purchase your own piece of Gee’s Bend Art, please contact the Gee’s Bend Collective directly at 334-573-2323.

Weekend Whims- Other Doo Nanny Artists

We were having such a good time at the Doo Nanny finding all sorts of fun things to look at. But today I want to share with you a little of what we got and a couple of things we didn’t!

1. John Henry Toney has become a very well-known Southern Folk Artist. He’s a farmer from a town just a little bit further down the road from Seale, AL. The story goes that he pulled up a turnip one day with e human face. From that day on, he’s been drawing every day. It’s this turnip that inspired the image for this years Doo Nanny. We got to meet him and say hello. Unfortunately, his work was a bit out of our price range right now, so we didn’t get to purchase one on this trip…. He had a sweet giggle watching my son take pictures with the big camera, but he didn’t want him to take his picture. Hence all pictures of Toney and his art are via The Museum of Wonder.

2. As we were wandering around, my husband found these scary prints of Frankenstein and Dracula and a few other horror film characters by Krek Prints.  Through chatting with the artist, Jason Krekel, we found out that the pieces were all hand cut linocuts and letterpressed by the artist. The detail is just amazing! My husband and one of his brothers love these horror film characters! Me, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the detail, but the characters, um…. But I do love the Flying Saucers piece I got! So we came home with a few pieces by Jason! Check out more scary prints in Jason’s etsy shop!

3. We also both loved the work of Last Days Press. This is the piece that we brought home, titled, ‘No Turning Back Now!’. I didn’t get anything from Jason, but I think I’m going to have to get one or both of his owls!!! There are some really cool sea creature illustrations on his blog that I’m also in love with! I almost got this Dreams piece

4. I love love love these paintings by Joe of Big Woods Art! It was really hard to decide which piece to get! I love his owls. The bears are awesome. I also love the big eyed flying creature. We narrowed it down to a few smaller pieces and my son made the final decision. I love the green bear we brought home!

5. And then there’s Buddy Snipes! We didn’t meet him here, but we did get to see a lot of his work. The Museum of Wonder is not only full of Butch Anthony’s pieces, but there is also a great selection of Buddy’s work. A few years back we got my brother-in-law one of his pieces, but we didn’t get one on this trip. I loved this one with the two people hanging on the couch! Picture of Buddy Snipes is via the Garde Rail Gallery.

The Doo Nanny Through the Eyes of a 3 Year Old

While we were at the Doo Nanny, for some reason I let my 3-year-old carry around my BIG camera and take pictures! He was loving it! As were everyone that saw him with this camera as big as his head wandering around taking pictures.

Here’s a another view of the festival from his eyes! Well, it’s not actually the art show part of the festival, but more up by the Museum of Wonder and the house. Again, in hindsight, why didn’t I give him the camera while we were walking through the art booths?? Those would have been cool shots! :) Next time. See it looks like we have to go back! I have a photo opportunity!

ok, so here’s the funny part! Butch Anthony wears overalls, pretty much exclusively. (from what I can tell… He didn’t tell he that personally or anything, but…) When we got up to the house there was a line of overalls hanging out. Since Max had the camera, I asked him to take a picture of them. He proceeded to do closeups of each pair. One shot for each pair! Too funny! But the pictures are actually kinda cool!

 

And have you signed up yet for the Steel Quilt Giveaway?? Don’t forget!

Butch Anthony and the Alabama Museum of Wonder

OK, the whole reason we found the Doo Nanny was because wanted to go to Butch Anthony’s World Famous Alabama Museum of Wonder!

But I also wanted a piece of Butch Anthony’s art.  I love his skeleton art over the old photographic portraits but I also love this little sketches. So what is the Museum of Wonder? It’s his studio. It’s a shed. It’s his place where all sorts of fun curiosities find a home. His art has moved from the side-show posters to these super cool drawings of people and animals! He’s, I guess you could call him, a sort of jack of all trades. And an extremely talented one at that! I love his art and his architecture. He builds buildings. He builds furniture. He draws, but he also makes pieces out of metal. And wood. And bones. he’s a restaurateur… Man!

Welcome to my tour of a very cool piece of the Outsider Art world!

Yep, that’s me in that very last picture holding our two purchases! And how funny is it that Butch’s friend and helper the day we were there looks almost exactly like him! Can you pick out the real Butch Anthony?? hehehe… Yep, he’s the one actually signing our pieces. I really wanted to keep both of them, but the big one was actually a gift for my brother-in-law. And he LOVED it!

So imagine my surprise as we’re walking up to the Doo Nanny and I see a sign with an arrow pointing north to a Quilt Show! What??? A Quilt Show? here?? So we kept looking for it and finally found it inside Anthony’s house!  The quilt show was mostly quilt tops that had been collected by Butch Anthony. And they were for sale. I knew I was headed to Gee’s Bend, so I didn’t question the prices or anything like that. Of course, I’m now kicking myself for not asking more questions. Like where were they from? How much?? You know, things like that… Well, I said that they were for sale. Most were. But there was a collection on the porch that had been taken out of the sale pile by Butch’s girlfriend, Natalie Chanin… You probably know that name, huh??? Another amazing textile artist! hHpefully, next trip we can make it to her studio!

That paper pieced one was, I believe, from the 30’s based on the dates on the newspaper they used!

In the bottom left corner of the picture below can you see those t-shirts?? They must have been done by Alabama Chanin. You might be wondering right about now, why I didn’t take more pictures of her pieces… Well. When we got inside, I was so overwhelmed by the little house and the art and the quilts, that I totally didn’t pay attention to what I was doing. After I left, I was like, why didn’t I take a picture of this and that. And who was the woman I was talking to about the quilts?? She spoke about her daughter and her quilting… Who was her daughter?

The inside of the house was just eye candy… Check out that painted floor in the kitchen area. Love the painted floor!

More about our adventures tomorrow!

The Doo Nanny!

Oh yeah! Have you been to the Doo-Nanny? Do you know where Seale, AL is??? If you answered no to both of those questions, it’s understandable. So did I a month or so ago! Even both of my parents, who grew up in AL, had no idea where Seale is!!

I’ve kinda mentioned that my husband and I collect Outsider and Southern Folk Art. We love it! When we had to change our yearly trip to Bama from May to April, at first we were kinda bummed. But as it got closer , of course, we got excited. We had realized that Butch Anthony’s Museum of Wonder wasn’t all that far away from my Dad’s house (ok, about an hour and half away. Not too far, right??). So we decided that we’d stop in and say hello and check it out! Yea!!

And then we realized we were headed there the same time as the Doo Nanny! So we rescheduled a few things to make sure we were there for the DooNanny.

So what is the Doo Nanny?? Well, it’s a little bit of everything we found out! Music, Art, art cars, fun people, fun people dressed funny, food, bonfires, camping, quilts… A little bit of everything!

The art is why we went, but we enjoyed the day just taking it all in!

The girl with the wig.. I believe she’s Jen from Jen and the Juice. for some reason my son was convinced she was a boy. I, on the other hand, am convinced she is a girl! So we played a little game of ‘She’s a Girl, He’s a Boy!’ the game goes a little like this, I say, ‘She’s a girl.’ He says, ‘He’s a boy.’ and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth… You get the idea!

The bottom picture is my son in front of the Emerge-N-See Mobile Visionary Unit by Robert Seven aka Mister Doctor Professor!

That’s me and my son in front of Miz Thang’s trailer. And I think that might be her guitar as well.

I loved this Heaven and Hell car by Chris Hubbard!

And of course the cute boys in my life in front of more art!

I wasn’t completely on the ball and writing down everyone and everything I saw, so I might be missing some links. If there is anything you see here that needs a link or there’s a better link to it, please let me know!

More on this, tomorrow!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day

to all the mothers out there!

(Including my wonderful mother!)

I saw this and just laughed. It’s sooooo me and my son! I love him soooooooooooo much!

image from the very cool etsy shop, Gus and Lula!

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