Light & Shadow #12

Quilter Hands — Nampa, ID Circa 1985

Quiltmaking was common in colonial America. Generally, it’s thought that quilts were born of necessity and made of ragged scraps or worn clothing as a humble bed covering. In my ten minutes of exhaustive research, I found that only the wealthy had the time or resources for quilting.

Quilting bees were popular social events in the mid-nineteenth century. They provided a way for women to gather for fellowship and simultaneously express their artistic capabilities.

I don’t know how my grandmother developed her quilting skills developed, but she had them. I remember watching here huddle over a quilting frame as she created a labor of love for each of her grandchildren. It was a sizable number.

I found out that a local church held a weekly quilting bee and attended it one day to make photographs for a full-page picture story. As a photographer, picture pages were an opportunity to dig deeper into a subject and create a project that was more about images than words.

For a considerable time, I wandered the room looking for the right moment, the right angle, the right combination of elements that would be my prize picture of the day. It wasn’t until I stood on a chair and looked down that I found that picture.

The photograph will always remind me of my grandmother, bent over her quilting frame to make a quilt just for me.

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