I have had what is considered a fairly common life, particularly in the south. My parents are still married, I grew up working hard to be on the honor roll, graduated from a college that was less than 50 miles away from my hometown… you get the picture. But among these seemingly average moments are memories that may be widely recognized with, but never duplicated. Recollections that may sound ordinary and run of the mill when just stated, but completely unique when told in detail. One of these is a concept that many of you may have had yourself: your grandmother teaching you how to sew by hand.
For those of you who don’t know the dynamics of my family, I’ll quickly catch you up. I am the youngest of 3 girls, and we are 3 of 4 granddaughters that my Mamaw Jenny had. The other 8 grandchildren, great grandchildren and step grandchildren were boys. What did this mean? That try as they may, I didn’t have a lot of one-on-one time with my grandparents.
One of these rare occurrences finally happened one day when I was around 10 years old and my grandmother was stitching up a pair of pants for her uncle (yes, HER uncle. Which makes him my great-great uncle, and he is still alive today). I was so fascinated by sewing, and my mother had let me help her make a few stiches in the past. But when Mamaw heard that I had never sewn a complete piece, she took it upon herself to show me.
She went upstairs and found a few pieces of quilting fabric that had been her mothers, and we sewed them back-to-back with a little quilt batting in between. She taught me a technique that I had never seen before, much more beautiful and intricate than the normal up and down pattern. I am sure that no sewing machine could immolate this, and therefore I have difficulty explaining it in words. You’ll just have to trust me on this one; it was lovely.
The finished piece was only about a 6 inch square, but she worked hard with me for a while to make sure that I understood the method. That little piece of scrap cloth was used on many Barbie beds, and had its share of dirt and filth cast on it. But I never did throw it away, even in my angst ridded teen years.
This story, in combination with my fascination with quilting patterns, sparked one of our current lines: Quilt Works. This is another example of how our own personal history and heritage inform our work. There is whole other side that involves the dynamics between a soft craft like quilting and the harden surface of pottery, but the main concept and inspiration lies in a 15 year old memory of a sunny day.
I think that my story is one that many people can identify with. But no matter how many comparable stories there are out there, not a single one of them will have the same details as mine. Or yours. And there is so much beauty in that.