The second quilt to be placed in downtown Six Mile, SC, on the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in SC, was mounted on Hot Foot Studios located at 104 Main Street. The owner of the studio, Sharon Finley, chose the North Star quilt, gifted to her by the Senior Ladies of Mountain View Baptist Church as a wedding gift in 1981.
A teacher at Six Mile Elementary School, Sharon is also an avid supporter of the Appalachian culture which is realized through her art of folk dance. She started out teaching students at the elementary school in an afterschool program, and the interest from the community grew from there. The current studio was established in 2007 and her dancers have earned championship wins in four clogging sanctions. In 2015, she opened a studio in Asheville, NC, where her group has performed at Shindig on the Green as well as in Nashville, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri. Although she teaches contemporary footwork, her dancers always start with traditional clogging steps.
Sharon comes from a rich dance heritage, as she says “on both sides of the house.” Her maternal grandmother loved square dance and it was said she could wear out a good pair of shoes on a Saturday night! On her father’s side of the family, her grandfather was known for his “buckdancing” skills. He entertained the troops during his time in the service during WWI, and earned the nickname, “the little dancer,” as he was admired for his novel and curious talents of southern mountain culture. This tradition continues as both of Sharon’s children, Lauren and Cullen attended Mars Hill University and have traveled internationally with the college dance team.
The North Star pattern that graces the Six Mile Hot Foot Studio is an old, and very well-known pattern that dates back to pre-Civil War times. First seen at an Abolitionist Fair in Boston in the mid-1800s, it was used throughout the south as a sign to the slaves that it was time to prepare for escape and to follow the North Star, or the “Drinking Gourd,” on their way north to Canada.
The lady quilters that created this block, Annie Martin, June Winchester, Mae Alexander, Della Cochran and Inez Collins, used bright colors in their rendition of the pattern that they gifted to Sharon and her husband. These ladies would make a quilt for new brides in the church. They looked forward to each of these social gatherings. As Sharon says, “You’ve never heard such laughing and carrying on when they met at the home of Mrs. Junie Winchester!” Although all the talented ladies have passed on, their memory stays as warm in Sharon’s heart as the colors of her quilt.
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