Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, to view “Creation Story: Gee’s Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial.” I spent forever moving from one quilt to the next – leaning as closely in as I could without being reprimanded. No matter how many times you see those beautiful pieces, they never fail to amaze and inspire. The quilts, while spectacular, were meant for everyday use and were made with whatever materials were available. The personal stories associated with each quilt drove that point home. Each was described by the maker in simple terms and plain language, as if what they produced was no big deal, as though anyone could do it. I was particularly taken by the quilts of Missouri Pettway, both intricate and simple in their constructions. One quilt, made from her husband’s work clothes, demonstrated the love that went into each and every one of these works of art. I felt a lump rise in my throat as I read the description, as told by the quilter’s daughter, Arlonzia:
“It was when Daddy died. I was about seventeen, eighteen. He stayed sick about eight months and passed on. Mama say, ‘I going to take his work clothes, shape them into a quilt to remember him, and cover up under it for love.’ She take his old pants legs and shirttails, take all the clothes he had, just enough to make that quilt, and I helped her tore them up. Bottom of the pants is narrow, top is wide, and she had me to cutting the top part out and shape them up in even strips.” Continue reading
I recently read a NYTimes article about the comeback of curvy body shapes among the Y- generation. It seems that an increasing number of women in their 20s and 30s are finding the “calendar girl” silhouette appealing. Along with a curvaceous silhouette, the look includes Betty Page style bangs, swing skirts, and bright red lips.
The classic 50s and 60s pin-ups were before my time. By the time the 70’s arrived, the style of the day had evolved. Pin-ups looked different – beach blondes, tiny waistlines and overly-styled looks were on trend. These were the images that surrounded me when I first began to think about my own definition of beauty and develop my own sense of style. I was an awkward teenager. Growing up with limited resources in our small community, my sense of beauty and style was dictated by Seventeen Magazine. And I don’t remember anyone in my little world that looked like me. I remember my mother—who was a teacher at my school—telling me that none of the little kids looked like me. I had black hair, black eyes, a “foreign” look. In fact, years later a friend of the family looked at my cousin and said “Pam, you have just grown up to be the most beautiful young woman.” Then, as her eyes descended upon me, she exclaimed, “And, Natalie, you are so, so, so EXOTIC.” For a shy and somewhat delicate girl, that felt like the kiss of ugly.
This month’s desktop features our organic cotton jersey fabric with Wet-Paint Stenciling from page 48 of Alabama Studio Style. Using an Angie’s Fall stencil, this distressed, painted version of our Faded Leaves fabric was actually an accident. Often times, the best and most exciting things in life come from accidental meetings, accidental spills, and accidental conversations. This fabric is the same.
This hi-resolution photograph is for use as your computer desktop background and is now available to download from our Resource Downloads.
A Short Note on Wood from Brave Old World: A Practical Guide to Husbandry, or the Fine Art of Looking After Yourself:
Do you have enough dry wood to last through the winter? Should you order some now so that you will have a good dry pile in twelve months’ time? September is the month to make sure that this is sorted out.
As the days grow shorter and the nights become chillier, I find myself craving an evening around the fire. In my family, I am a renowned fire builder. My patience for building fires was nurtured as a child as we built fires at our family camping spot to roast hot dogs and grill hamburgers; at summer camp, a fire pit meant a night of songs and making “best friends forever.” These days, I love building a fire because I know that it means a night of grilling vegetables, toasting friends, great stories – warmth inside and out. I have spent hours with a friend in our community talking about techniques, fireplace designs, and wood.
To safely** make a fire, I recommend gathering the following:
A SAFE PLACE TO START YOUR BURN. Make sure that you are a safe distance from structures, trees and bushes.
A SOURCE OF WATER. Whether a hose, a bucket, or any other vessel, make sure that you have water to put out the fire or to use in case of emergency.
There are certain places you must see for yourself to have better understanding of a culture and people.
Through his Kodachrome images, photographer William Christenberry is somehow able to take you to places you’ve never been and give you insight on people you’ve never encountered. He tells beautiful (sometimes forlorn) tales spanning five decades in the rural South. Shot with 35mm Kodachrome slide film, the photographs feature white-clad churches, brick facades, overgrown landscapes, and rusted signage; they focus on rural locations, rather than individuals, but still manage to depict the humanness of the locales.
Please take a moment of silence at noon to celebrate #peaceday.
“There can be no sustainable future without a sustainable peace. Sustainable peace must be built on sustainable development.”
Visit here to learn more about the International Day of Peace, and how you can help build a more sustainable future.
Photo Credit: United Nations
In 1972, I gave my father a first edition of The Foxfire Book as a Christmas present. It came from the local bookstore on Court Street in downtown Florence, where now the Billy Reid store serves as a fashion anchor for our little town. It was common in those days for us kids to be dropped off “downtown” and picked up hours later after we had eaten Trowbridge’s ice cream and spent our hard saved allowances on all sorts of treasures.
I remember that holiday season clearly. Perhaps it was the first year I was allowed to shop by on my own? I would have just turned 11 – laughing, whispering, and scheming with my best friend Wendy. Standing in the old Anderson’s Bookland that afternoon, The Foxfire Book leapt out at me and seemed the perfect gift for my father who loved country life, all things Native American, and working with wood.
While part of our Alabama Chanin crew is working in New York, our cotton continues to grow in Trinity, Alabama.
We are in the city this week for trunk shows, New York Fashion Week, appointments, and, it seems, a constant moving from one side of the city to the other.
However, today we think not first of the week’s events, but of eleven years ago; a day that will always be remembered.
It feels surreal to be back in New York during this time. It feels more surreal to have been here during that time. Life continues for some of us, but not in the same way.
Here are some glimpses of our time here, in the big, beautiful Apple. In memoriam.