so . . . . if you've been wondering what i have been doing lately, well, my response would be -- stimulating the economy of greece . . . . why not???? i don't see how any effort at this point could make things worse:) hahahaha. no. seriously, i have just been BRAIN-storming about how to stimulate the economy of greece through . . . . you guessed it!! QUILTING in all of its many forms:)
so let's start with my most recent idea about how to create a larger quilt community of women who will drive the greek economy by demanding quilting supplies, fabric, and shops!!! first on the agenda is to find a way to get quilting supplies available to quilters in thessaloniki through greek retailers . . . . CHECK. got that one done -- only took me about 5 years!! second on the agenda is to start teaching multiple quilt lessons . . . . CHECK CHECK. i am now teaching quilt lessons three nights a week with a possible 4th class sometime during the day. haven't figured that one out yet. third on the agenda is to have a quilt conference for all of my growing numbers of students and quilters greece-wide and use it as a tool to educate our greek community at large about what quilting is and how they can tap into learning more including taking lessons (more classes ahead).
C-H-E-C-K-I-N-G. that means that i am not done with this item YET but i have a good start. i have written a letter to a friend who is interested in joining our conference in a rather unique way and she needed some information from me to move forward with an idea i had. i am posting that letter here for you to read because it will give you a picture of what is going on so far. so go get a cup of hot tea first and snuggle under a warm quilt as you read:) hahaha. and do pray about how you might be able to help in whatever way you can. we need everyone to make this a success and i have NO idea what i am doing????? and yet i still drive ahead:) it's just how i roll . . . .
as some of you may or may not know, our little team of quilters, new and old, are planning on holding a small quilt conference and quilt display that here in thessaloniki, greece probably in mid july. we will be inviting quilters from all over greece so if you are from greece please pass this information on to your friends and fellow quilters.
the conference will have several elements:
1. workshops on quilting techniques for beginner, intermediate, and advanced quilters (we are looking for quilters willing to come to greece and participate as instructors)
2. presentation of the history of quilting through script and quilted examples of historical designs. this will be a collaborative effort between staff and students from Eastern Illinois University, the team of greek quilters in thessaloniki who are sponsoring this conference and quilt display, and two volunteer friends from america.
3. quilt display of quilts in 3 general categories:
-- quilts that have been made and donated for display by women living in greece and other parts of the world
-- quilts created specifically for a greek design challenge that will be issued to greek quilters and the art community in thessaloniki and the country of greece. you can read more about this challenge below.
-- quilts created to be expressions of opinion about current social or political issues such as human trafficking
the following letter was written to a friend in an effort to provide information about how quilts have been used throughout history other than as utility blankets and to provide specific information about the quilt conference and display we have planned so far. this information is for her use and at her request as she organizes a quilting response from abolitionists opposing human trafficking here in greece. i am forwarding this letter to each of you so you will be informed as well and so that you will take whatever part your own area of expertise may allow. this is an opportunity that is evolving with amazing potential to bring quilting in all of its forms to the greek community and through it create an awareness on multiple levels.
here is the site with a few of the more common quilt codes that i told you about (you will understand what this is after you read the rest of the letter. then come back to this site)
and here is a synopsis of what we would like to do in the quilt conference/show of quilts that we are planning for late july:
as i told you on the phone, one of the historical facts about the evolution of quilting in early america has to do with the idea of using quilts as a form of expression of some personal conviction or the use of quilts to participate in a movement that was important to the individual making the quilt. for example, women in early american history were not allowed to vote or express their political views. in response to these restrictions women in america often used quilts to express through a quilt pattern what they could not express verbally. so every quilt block in existence has a name. sometimes even one block will be popularly known by several different names that have been given to it. the names and patterns can reflect opinions, geographical locations, astronomy, political views, a child's favorite game, controversial issues of the time, or even home life.
in the late 1800's there was a civil war in america over the issue of black slavery. this war was between northern and southern america. the slave owners were typically living in the south on large plantations although there were also some slaves in the north. but the northern states under the leadership of abraham lincoln became an abolitionist power that fought for the rights of the slaves who were held captive in the south. during this dark time in american history those who were abolitionists began to create secret codes that were communicated to runaway slaves through quilt patterns. these codes gave the slave information that would help him to successfully navigate to freedom in the northern united states and canada. the codes and symbols were translated verbally to the men and women before they escaped during regularly held quilting sessions that were common on the plantation among the slaves.
and of course women who were sympathetic to the abolition movement and were quilters helped to translate the secret codes through specific quilt patterns and intricate quilted symbols made with knots of their thread. using these quilts, patterns, and thread codes was a way for women to participate in a tangible way in the abolitionist movement of the late 1800's. so here's my idea. i realized the other night that i too am an abolitionist. i am an advocate for the abolition of human trafficking. and i am a quilter. in the quilt display that we are planning for late july we are going to be featuring several different venues. for one, we will be issuing a challenge to greek quilters and artists to create patterns that will be made into quilts that reflect the greek culture using traditional motifs that are well known by greeks. for example the idea of adapting the patterns found on many of the buildings located on the island of chios:
or the designs carved into the περιστερωνες Τηνου (these old buildings scattered across this particular geographical landscape are tool sheds with greek patterns purposely carved into the tops creating spaces for pigeons to roost and provide an easy way to collect their droppings for fertilizing their fields):
so through this effort we will bring quilting to greece not as an american art form but rather something fresh that expresses a unique greek identity of its own. and certainly part of that identity must address the the issue of human trafficking of which greece is a major player. as abolitionists of human trafficking we tap into every avenue available to us as we attempt to make statements of opposition in an effort to gain support and provide education to others who would join us in our fight. this attempt may be in the form of music for example like the new song release "27 million" by hillsong or wearing T-shirts, arm bracelets, and other charms . . . . but why not quilts???? why couldn't we design quilts as a forum to oppose trafficking and the horror of its violation in the same way that the early american women did concerning the issues of their day??? quilts have an unbelievable capacity to make powerful statements in an art form that cannot be denied. these quilts could be part of our quilt display in late july. quilts could be designed by the staff of safe houses or by the girls who have been trafficked themselves to bring further awareness of and personal expression about the issue of human trafficking. we can help anyone interested to create a design that can be reproduced with fabrics from our studio and we will teach them how to put those designs together. once these patterns are assembled we will quilt them in our studio and prepare them for display. i'm really excited about this idea and i hope you agree that it is a unique opportunity to communicate to the community around us concerning the issue of human trafficking. let's pray about it together and if there is anything else you need let me know.