This is certainly not the first time that someone has put the spotlight on Maura Ambrose, but if any of you blog readers out there have not heard of her then it is certainly time for you to check out this amazing lady and her beautiful quilts. She is an artist and maker that deserves attention.
Maura Grace Ambrose is Folk Fibers. She lives in Austin, TX and runs this great blog/resource center. She studied Textile Design and Fiber Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After working in preschools and on organic farms for a few years she traveled the country and ended up settling down in Austin, TX where she makes it her mission to “share the craft and folklore that prevails around natural dyes and quilts” (if you are not swooning right now then I am doing enough of it for the both of us).
All of her quilts are made with organic (rather than synthetic) materials and all of them are completely hand stitched. In order to sustain a practice under this working philosophy she has reached out to the community and now has a handful of women that help her stitch quilts for her larger orders.
She focuses on natural dyes that do not require mordants (called substantive dyes or direct dyes) such as indigo, cochineal, walnut hulls and onion skins.
Look at these fantastic sampler photos:
This past year she cultivated 525 Japanese indigo plants (the same species that we grew in the Sewing Seeds garden).
Her exuberant geometric quilts are reminiscent of the quilts that came out of Gee’s Bend. Gee’s Bend is an isolated hamlet in Alabama that has a quilting tradition that can be traced back to the early 19th century when the land was owned by cotton grower, Joseph Gee. The community of slaves that worked his land lived in shacks without electricity or running water and making quilts out of old clothing scraps was a resourceful way of keeping warm and surviving the winter. The quilts that come from this community are known for their improvisational feel and untraditional geometry. They differ greatly from the European style of quilting that usually maintains an overall symmetry and reuses specific motifs.
Quilt made by Annie Mae Young (b. 1928)
Quilt made by Jessie T. Pettway (b. 1929)
Quilt made by Rachel Carey George (b. 1908)
Delaware quilt made by Maura Grace Ambrose
If you are about ready to begin your own quilt after reading about this impressive tradition, then you are certainly not alone. Us Sewing Seeds’ ladies are eager to start making our own quilts which is why we have decided to start a quilting group! The only way to quilt is with other quilters. It is easy to cast aside the traditional social practices that surround traditional crafts, but they exist for a reason and we believe that quilters shThis project will begin in 2013 and right now it seems like we will be meeting on a weekday night to get together, sew our quilts and share stories. I will let everyone know when it is beginning. Feel free to email me to express interest (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the meantime I encourage you to take a look at Maura Grace Ambrose and her dreamy life. Also, be sure to look up Gee’s Bend quilts for a powerful punch of inspiration.