Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in Upstate, SC, Adds Another Quilt Block to Trail

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#185 Carpenters Wheel

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Westminster, SC’s latest addition to the trail is directly across the street from the Defoor’s old homestead, at the former home of the Benjamin Wingert family at 110 Cornelia Avenue. Although Ben now resides in Six Mile, SC, he has completely refurbished the small vintage house where his children were raised as youngsters. After a fire that started in the wood stove on a cold January day in 2014, then spread throughout the structure causing extensive damage, Ben has worked to reclaim as much of the original materials as possible. He then did a complete re-design of the floor plan and repurposed much of the old wood, metal and tin to create a uniquely beautiful new, old house.

The original structure dates from the early 1920s as the first owners are thought to be a family by the name of Pickle, hence the name chosen for his new Airbnb venture is “The Pickle House.” This house will hopefully accommodate tourists in the upstate area who come to experience the hiking trails, waterfalls and whitewater river destinations on a short-term rental basis.

The choice of the Carpenter’s Square as Ben’s quilt block is very appropriate, as Ben has worked in the building trades for many years. One of his first work experiences in carpentry was at “Swing of Things” in Westminster, constructing gazebos. He then moved on to work for local contractor Lee Bolding, where he learned the carpentry trade from a master builder. After Lee closed his business, Ben went on to work independently in the upstate, creating many beautiful structures, interiors and furnishings.

The Carpenter’s Square or Wheel block design has a long history in the south. It is said to be one of the fifteen “escape” patterns used in the Underground Railroad during the slavery years of the south. The carpenter was Jesus and the wheel symbolized to the slaves, most of whom were illiterate, their reliance on religion. The wheel was made up of small triangular shapes, and by carefully placing the darker ones with the point aiming in a specific direction, this would guide the slaves in the proper direction to safety.

After Ben chose the design for his house, he consulted with a friend in Bloomington, Indiana, Cathy O’Bryan who is a prolific quilter. As most quilters, Cathy is a generous soul who opened up her “stash” of fabrics and allowed him to pick whatever struck a chord with him. The mix of colors are Ben’s favorites; greens, browns, oranges, even a wood grain fabric is included.

Ben and his partner, Cindy then asked a friend that volunteers in the UHQT studio if she would consider stitching a block so that the requirement of the trail to have an actual quilt attached to each square would be fulfilled. Mary Dee Rudy was graciously ready to help out. Mary Dee has been a quilter for thirty years and a painter of quilt squares since the inception of the trail. She shares, “My first quilting experience was through lessons taught by a neighbor. We were a group of six and completed a crib sampler quilt in six weeks, all hand pieced and quilted. I was hooked!” She has made numerous quilts for her own children, including one she made for her son that he took to military school, college and still uses to this day.

Mary Dee’s first submission to a quilt competition was the 2010 Lake and Mountain Quilters Guild show where she won first place in the category for people who had never entered before. This was a king-sized quilt, called Cherry Rose, that was hand appliqued and hand quilted. In 2012, she took third place in the applique category for her yo-yo quilt. Mary Dee lives outside Seneca with a quilt block on the garage. Inside her log cabin are many fabric quilts, both completed and in progress.

For further info about the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail call 864/723- 6603, e-mail to (info@uhqt.org) or visit (www.uhqt.org).

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