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Celebrating Quilt Legacy During Black History Month

I stumbled upon Bold Expressions -- African American Quilts From the Collection of Corrine Riley in Thrift Books. Just seeing the cover made me buy it immediately because it reminded me of my grandmother's quilts.

None of the quilts in the book are attributed to a particular quilter because adding a label to a quilt was not a thing when these quilts were made. Instead, the author identifies the quilt by recognizable quilt blocks, gives the dimensions and includes the state where it was made. Most, if not all of the quilts were made in the South. As a child of the South, I recognized them immediately. It made me happy to see them in a book.

Half Square Triangle quilt by Clara Ford

My grandmother Clara Ford lived in Crossett, AR from December 12, 1892 until her death May 20, 1966. I inherited 8 of her quilts. Two of them are shared here.

"African American quilts very often reveal a pattern or composition that one might find in any simple country quilt, and certainly the African American quilt maker would have seen these country quilts. But when the artist was unable to (or preferred not to) purchase store-bought fabrics, and instead chose to incorporate worn-out materials, including trouser jeans and feed sacks, the opportunity to improvise in composition, pattern and color was enormous," writes Roger Ricco in the introduction to the book.

I agree. Many women all over the South made these quilts. I am just happy to see them in a book in a place of honor.

Big Red Squares by Clara Ford


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