Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville, NC, will Host the Pearson Sisters to Share the Secrets of Quilt Block Painting – Aug. 12 & 13, 2019

The Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) is proud to help build on and continue the tradition of hand painted quilt blocks that you see on many self-driving tours of western North Carolina.

Haywood County is dotted with quilt blocks. You can spot them decorating the sides of barns, welcoming at restaurants, and even advertising dentists’ offices. They are a visual emblem of Appalachia and a true art form of the people of the mountains.

Before the days of cable news, the quilting bee was how the community shared news. The quilters not only created magnificent textile art but were the source of vital information. Marriages were negotiated around the quilting frame. Quilting bees were also a form of peace talks. Families could settle disagreements by “going to the quilt” before heading to the courthouse. Feuds could be ended when the women would clear the air. No sensible man would dare defy a woman armed with a needle. It has even been suggested that the quilters were early suffragists, for the cooperative effort of making the complicated patterns allowed women to bond in highly personal and effective ways.

One of the most dramatic uses of the quilt was as a map for slaves escaping through the Underground Railroad. The quilts they carried were festooned with symbols which led the way to freedom. The Drunkard’s Path pattern warned of slave catchers and dogs in the area, so you had to backtrack. Flying Geese, headed north was a sign to “follow the birds.” A shoofly pattern told you there were helpers in the area. The Crossroads pattern signaled you were in Cleveland, Ohio, and free. The Crossroads on a quilt was also a challenge to make a life decision as to where to go next.

Many of the current quilt blocks on display in Haywood, Yancey and Mitchell Counties were hand crafted in Burnsville, NC, by Carole and June Pearson and their volunteers. As of July 1, 2019, the Haywood County Arts Council is the new headquarters for the Quilt Trails of Western NC and the associated art studio now located at the Folkmoot building in Waynesville.

Carole & June Pearson will be traveling from Burnsville, NC, to Waynesville to train interested volunteers in the techniques of Quilt Block painting over the next few months. The Pearson sisters will be sharing the secrets of quilt block painting on Aug. 12 & 13, 2019.

To discover more of this fascinating aspect of our culture, please join the team of quilt block volunteer painters, and e-mail the Haywood County Arts Council at (director@haywoodarts.org) or call 828/452-0593.

If you are interested in ordering a handcrafted Quilt Block for your home, barn, or business, please visit our website at (www.QuiltTrailsWNC.org) or come by the HCAC Gallery at 86 N. Main Street in Waynesville.

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