Craft the Vote November 7, 2006

Today is finally election day in the U.S., and I’m on pins and needles wondering about the results tonight, especially on Measures 43 and 44 in Oregon — I got to vote by mail last week. If you haven’t made it out to the polls (or stopped by the ballot drop box, for my fellow Oregonians), please make time to go vote today! Cake + Pie posted a very handy guide to finding your polling place, and registering for next time, in case you’ve moved recently, too.

Last weekend I went up to San Francisco to see the Gee’s Bend quilts at the DeYoung Museum, which was just amazing. I’m so grateful I had the chance to see them — the exhibit closes Dec. 31, so if you have time in the next two months, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting!

Quilts of Gee's Bend at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco

I wandered around looking at all the quilts and marveling at all that intricate hand-stitching and color piecing. Super inspiring. My favorites were the bright, bold colors and patterns, but one intricate Housetop Log Cabin variation, quilted by Irene Williams in 1975 with “VOTE” fabric, caught my eye as a gorgeous example of craftivism:

Irene Williams' Vote quilt

In a thoughtful Boston Globe article about the touring quilt show, Cate McQuaid discussed this piece:

This isn’t the first time Gee’s Bend has garnered national attention; identified as one of the most impoverished communities in America during the Depression, it got both federal funds and media attention.

In the 1960s, Gee’s Benders were in the news again, when, after some of them protested for voting rights with Martin Luther King Jr., ferry service to the community was cut off. In 1975, Irene Williams made a quilt striped with red, white, and blue banners reading ”Vote” to mark the struggle.

Here’s an insert from the upper right-hand corner:

insert from Irene Williams' Vote quilt

The night my friends Meredith, Nicole, and I went to the show, the museum also hosted an event with the San Francisco Quilters’ Guild and we got to meet several of the members and see their beautiful work. They were so warm and encouraging to us as beginning quilters, and offered lots of helpful advice… a really lovely bonus after seeing all the gorgeous work.

I also got to meet up with the wonderful Natalie from CRAFT with my friend Jo at my favorite bead store, Beyond Beads, and stop by the fabulous Stitch Lounge for the first time. As always, I just love San Francisco and I can’t wait to make it back to the Bay Area — I’m hoping to come up for my birthday in January and visit the Museum of Craft and Folk Art.

ETA: Just saw this piece on Your Daily Awesome about the Polling Place Photo Project, a very cool way to “document democracy.” Take a look and bring your camera along with you to vote today.

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