Sunday, September 25, 2011

Around the Bend

"Around the Bend" is my submission for the September Art Bead Scene monthly challenge.

I love this months inspiration piece, a quilt entitled "Housetop", created by Lillie Mae Pettway, a Gee's Bend quilter.

Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850.

After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown — as an "Alabama Africa" — to this sleepy hamlet.

The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance, of Atlanta, presented an exhibition of seventy quilt masterpieces from the Bend. The exhibition, entitled "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend," is accompanied by two companion books, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the larger Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, both published by Tinwood Media, as well as a documentary video on the Gee’s Bend quilters and a double-CD of Gee’s Bend gospel music from 1941 and 2002.

For my piece, I drafted several rectangles and squares using the colors and proportions from the quilt.

I formed the "banners" using square stitch and size 11/0 seed beads. The spacers are formed of peyote stitch bands and it's all strung together on a freeform base.

I'm especially pleased with my clasp, a art bead created by Etsy artist, blueseraphim. It's design mimics the shape of a log cabin quilt block and in addition, red is the color of the center block of a traditional log cabin block.

I'm currently working on a bracelet to accompany this necklace and have an idea for an additional necklace utilizing the "banners" in a completely different way - more to come!


  1. Love your necklace it is folk artsy just like the quilt.

  2. I love how you did this, clearly you can see from where you got your inspiration, can't wait to see the bracelet and how it all comes together...thanks for sharing!

  3. I always get SO much from your posts!!! Thanks so much for keeping us so informed of past and present! Of course you beading is always so wonderful to enjoy!

  4. I can appreciate all the work you put into this piece, very nice!