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Gee’s Bend Quilt Collage

The women of Gee’s Bend — a small, remote, black community in Alabama — have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present.

This community also has a pretty fascinating connection to Dr. Martin Luther King. You can read the book “Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend” to find out more. I have long loved the look of the quilts made by these women, I had no idea they also played a key role in the civil rights movement too. Amazing people.

In reading more about the Gee’s Bend quilt making process, I learned that these women started by painstakingly taking apart old clothes by hand so as to use the ENTIRE piece of fabric. They didn’t use MOST of it to make something new, they used ALL of it. To make sure this message gets across to my students, I will require them to use all of their selected colorful paper before their collages are considered done. I think it will also force them to layer pieces in a way that they may not be inclined to do on their own.

MATERIALS

• Card stock paper, I like the Recollections® brand found at craft stores

• Paper cutter

• Scissors

• Glue stick

• Penny sleeves, often used for trading cards

• Scotch tape

 

DIRECTIONS

1. PREP: Cut the paper into 2.5″ x 3.5″ size, about eight cards per student. This is a trading card size and is made to fit in the plastic sleeves.

2. Students choose their four background cards and then four cards for cutting up. (I believe four is a good goal for a 45 minute class.) Card stock that comes in packaged color themes will look great too, as in this Recollections® Blue Ombre palette shown here.

3. Four background cards are placed on the table and four remaining cards are cut up into strips and squares, etc. These are glued to the backgrounds in any arrangement desired. Important: Students must use ALL of their cut up paper. Layers are fine, it just needs to be all used up, just like the Gee’s Bend women did with their clothes.

4. Each card is slide into a penny sleeve. This will help smooth out all the pieces and add a look of lamination.

5. The cards are taped together on the back side with clear scotch tape.

6. Each student could keep their own quilt, or the entire class could put theirs together to make a collaborative piece.