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Issue 30 | Georgia

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Nestled in the Southeastern United States, Georgia stands as a captivating blend of rich history, diverse landscapes, and a vibrant cultural heritage. From the dynamic urban energy of Atlanta to the timeless charm of Savannah, the state epitomizes Southern allure. Georgia’s pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and its status as the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. lend an enduring significance to its historical narrative.

The latter part of the 20th century witnessed metropolitan Atlanta emerging as the beating heart of The Sun Belt, symbolizing the economic and demographic resurgence in the post-World War II Southern US. The city’s expansion, both in size and influence, culminated in the prestigious hosting of the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games. This event not only elevated Atlanta’s global profile but also left a lasting legacy through landmarks like Centennial Olympic Park, embodying the city’s growth and modernization.

Beyond its urban centers, Georgia unfolds as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering the majestic peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the north and the serene coastal plains in the south. Savannah, with its preserved 18th-century town layout and architecture, stands as a living testament to the state’s historical depth. The state’s diverse topography, with valleys, rivers, and lush forests, reflects a spectrum of natural vegetation. Charming small towns and rolling hills interspersed throughout showcase Georgia’s rural grace, inviting exploration and unveiling hidden gems at every turn.

Though our journey through The Peach State was fast-paced, the warmth of Georgia’s residents eased our tight schedule. Quilters graciously opened their homes, shops, and communities, providing a glimpse into the state’s talent, historical significance, and supportive spirit. This issue is dripping with the essence of Georgia and the indelible mark of Southern hospitality.

“Georgia, Georgia

The whole day through

Just an old sweet song

Keeps Georgia on my mind”

Penned in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, “Georgia on My Mind” has found its most iconic rendition through the soulful voice of Georgia native Ray Charles, who recorded it for his 1960 album. In a testament to its enduring appeal, the State of Georgia bestowed official recognition upon Ray Charles’ rendition in 1979, cementing its status as the state’s anthem.

The song’s meaning has sparked numerous interpretations over the years, ranging from a longing for the warmth of the Southern state to personal connections, such as Carmichael’s sister, who was named Georgia. Regardless of its origin, one thing remains certain: the evocative melody and lyrics resonate deeply with listeners, conjuring images of Georgia’s charm and allure.

We hope that as you read on and learn about the talented quilters, designers, innovators, community leaders, and artists in this issue, you’ll be keeping Georgia on your mind long after the music fades.

Writers for this issue: Mel Burke, Rebecca Bratburd, Meg Cox, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Kestrel Michaud, Diane L. Murtha, Sharbreon Plummer and Teresa Duryea Wong 

Photographer for this issue: Azuree Holloway 

Photo Stylist: Trevor Holloway

Previews From Issue 30

Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild

From a first meeting that only included the two co-founders to a membership that now boasts 150 people from all across the country, the Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild has had great success in building community and celebrating African American traditions. The guild supports a number of outreach projects and fosters creativity and collaboration among their members with regular challenges, all while seeking to pass their love of quilting on to the next generation.

Cathy Fussell

Cathy Fussell’s first memory of sewing is her mother handing her a needle when she was 4. She’s been creating with fabric and thread ever since. From her early traditional quilts to her current modern and art efforts, Cathy always has a story to tell, whether it’s a rendering of Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or an examination of the South’s fraught history.

Devon Iott

Devon Iott is known in the quilting world as Miss Make, though she started her career in the film industry in Los Angeles before transitioning to teaching crafts. Working in maker spaces led her to meet the Ruby Star Society designers and work for six years as their brand manager. Nowadays, she’s focused on raising her infant son alongside her husband and building her brand from their home in Atlanta.

Harriet and Armstead Powers' Committal Ceremony

The Women of Color Quilters Network has just completed a years’ long effort to purchase and install a striking new headstone at the gravesite of famed American quilter Harriet Powers. While the front of the marker lists the dates of birth and death for Harriett and her husband, Armstead, the back is a stunning tribute to Harriet and her quilts. Her photo is engraved into the stone, as well as detailed images from her two quilts, leaving no doubt for future generations as to the astonishing accomplishments of this incredible artist.

HollyAnne Knight

HollyAnne Knight found a way to combine her love of quilts and teaching in her online quilting education company, String & Story. After learning to free-motion quilt, she created a Facebook community where quilters could learn new skills, ask questions, and share their stories. An entrepreneur at heart, HollyAnne has also recently opened a brick-and-mortar quilt shop in her hometown of Duluth.

Jessica Lankhorst

The quilting bug struck Jessica Lankhorst with an interior design challenge and one yard of fabric. A fireball of energy, she started her business, Quilt Please, in 2017, after posting tons of quilting content on social media and receiving multiple requests to make quilts and teach. She first offered T-shirts and traditional quilts, as well as other sewn goods, and soon added classes and longarm quilting services. She enjoys creating traditional blocks with modern touches.

Kelley Atkinson

After losing her twin sister, Lacey, to colon cancer, Kelley Atkinson discovered solace and purpose in quilting. Her transformative journey served as a therapeutic outlet to navigate grief and honor her sister’s memory. Through the creation of meaningful quilts, Kelley not only finds healing for herself but also strengthens connections with her family, immersing herself in the rich history of quilting as a source of comfort and renewal.

Lynette Warren

Chatting with Lynette about quilting history is like listening to someone with a PhD in fiber art facts. Her level of interest and depth of knowledge is extensive. It made my head spin. Her endeavors into researching, writing, and lecturing began after visiting the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit. And Lynette hasn’t stopped since. She continues speaking throughout the Atlanta metro area about African American quilting and quilt history, as well as publishing articles.

Making Quilts + Making History

Delve into Georgia’s quilting heritage with Anita Weinraub, a distinguished quilt historian, and her close friend, quilt appraiser Holly Anderson. As they reminisce about the Georgia Quilt Project, which led to the book Georgia Quilts: Piecing Together a History, discover the remarkable stories behind quilts crafted from eclectic materials—from feed sacks to Crown Royal Whiskey bags. The article also unveils another ambitious initiative, the Olympic Gift of Quilts, where Anita and Holly orchestrated the creation of over 300 quilts for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, leaving an enduring mark on the global quilting community.

Melissa Word

Melissa Word discovered the art of quilting through the realms of dance and grief work, where fabric is transformed into a medium of expression. Now, she guides others in a virtual workshop called Grief Threads, using quilting as a transformative tool to help participants repair their sense of community, humanity, and spiritual fortitude.

O.V. Brantley

Explore the vibrant world of O.V. Brantley, a high-profile attorney turned quilt artist, whose colorful creations serve as a reflection of her inspiring life journey. From navigating the challenges of a high-profile legal career to discovering the therapeutic role of quilting during stressful times, O.V. shares her profound connection to quilting and the unexpected joy it brought into her life. The story of her acclaimed “Red and White” series, rooted in themes of leadership, sisterhood, and service, emphasizes the importance of putting yourself out there and staying true to your creative path.

Pinwheels Quilting

Ginger Valenti opened Pinwheels Quilting in 2016 and has been inviting new quilters to join the joyous community ever since. The shop offers fabric bundles, quilting courses, and a wide range of machines—all guided by the personable, friendly expertise of the staff.

Ruby Star Society

Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Sarah Watts, Alexia Marcelle Abegg, and Kimberly Kight are modern quilting “sew-lebrities” and artists in their own right. Together, they form Ruby Star Society, a modern fabric and goods company under Moda and an empowered sisterhood focused on connection, community, and creativity. Read about how Melody, the granddaughter of a Singer sewing machine factory worker, executed on this vision based on the notion to rise. 

Shereece Nicole

Shereece Nicole is in love with pink, so much so that her sewing machine is pink, and if there is a handy quilting tool or gadget available in pink, Shereece probably has it in her studio. While her quilts use a lot of bright colors, you’re sure to find one color in particular infused among the pieced blocks. “Most definitely pink,” she said with a smile.

Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum

The small but mighty Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum is home to vibrant community stories, internationally famed traveling quilts, and hands-on kids classes. Step through the front doors to learn so much more.

Tara Miller

Tara Miller’s quilting journey began in 2014, when she decided to make a baby blanket and discovered the rich legacy of traditional quilt blocks. Now the owner of The Quilt District and a board member of the American Quilt Study Group, Tara seeks to transform the narrative around quilting, shedding light on the stories of women through the art form that has transcended generations.

Wini McQueen

Wini McQueen is a mixed media artist and quiltmaker who is driven to create and to share the stories of her family and her African American heritage. She has strong memories of sewing as a child, including her first attempt at quiltmaking around the age of 5. She still has that quilt top, and she has cut it up and incorporated bits of it into some of her contemporary art quilts.

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