Monday, November 16, 2009

The first two sessions

Thursday and Saturday's quilting sessions brought over 175 people out to work on the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt. It was an amazing experience which, as expected, ran well over our allotted times. Both quilting sessions were supposed to end at 1:00p.m., however we were still working at 2:30 p.m. both days. People from all over Maryland and beyond came out to stitch and see the quilt with many out of town folks asking how the quilt and Dr. Gaither's other works could come to them. It was such a gratifying experience.

One of the groups coming to join us during the quilting session on Saturday was the student body of the Bates Middle School Performing and Visual Arts School. The students were introduced to the quilt and the process of quilting by Dr. Gaither and then allowed to work on the quilt itself. The students helped add structural stitches along the border area to help secure the quilt backing as well as accent the designs in the quilt. They were also able to add messages to the quilt including the names of some of the fish in the Chesapeake Bay, words associated with water, and different types of shells and beads. Visitors were also offered the opportunity to dress up like a waterman thanks to props provided by Vince Leggett. One group staged an entire scene using the props they were provided. Other students created artwork out of paper, glue, and markers inspired by the quilt that will be scanned into the computer and added to the quilt.

Many family members of watermen came to the event to see the quilt and get a sense of the type of materials and stories we are looking for in anticipation of next weekend's events. The quilting session on Friday in Grasonville, MD is shaping up to be quite a celebration. In addition to the quilting session, there will be live music provided by a sit in jazz and blues jam session as well as plenty of great food. We are anticipating several watermen and their families at the sessions in Grasonville and Shady Side and hope to record some great oral histories.

I am very excited to see what the next week brings. I hope you can join us for a memorable experience.

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