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Gee's Bend, Rosie Lee Tompkins and Improv Quilting

A workshop talk with Carolin Kropff.
This workshop talk is dedicated to the pioneers of improv quilting, the women of Gee's Bend, the great Rosie Lee Tompkins, and how we can create textile surfaces through intuitive, non-systematic cutting and recombining.

10/03/2023 from 3 - 5 pm.

There are fascinating combinations of ways to make a quilt, and there is an inherent connection of quilts to people, ways of making, time, and stories. My investigation into material-based ways of creating colorful surfaces by sewing and cutting textiles came across the work of Gee's Bend and Rosie Lee Tompkins.

Gee's Bend quilts are among the most important cultural contributions of African Americans in the United States. The women who made them and continue to make them today originate from Alabama, a sparsely fertile remote piece of land called Gee's Bend. Many residents are descended from former slaves of the Pettway Plantation. They are considered THE pioneers of improv quilting.

Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936-2006) is considered one of the most brilliant and inventive quilt makers of her time. She constructed her patchwork using a wide variety of fabric qualities, velvet and silk, polyester and nylon. In addition to the variety of different fabric qualities, the fabric surfaces she invented also consist of a variety of seemingly improvised blocks, often originating in classic block patterns such as the Half Square Triangle, the Medallion Quilt, or the Log Cabin. In addition, there are appliqués, yoyos, and embroideries, all freely and seemingly effortlessly connected.

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