Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ethel Lea Benson: Textiles


Ethel Lea Benson: Textiles
 David Buford, a local Water Vallian and owner of Diamond Concrete, walked into YaloRUN Textiles a couple of months ago asking if we did quilt repairs. Like most people looking for this service, David had what I call a "Grandmother quilt." That is, a quilt made by his grandmother that he felt affection for but wasn't quit sure how to handle it or what to do with it, if anything. But what made David's quilt different from other "Grandmother quilts" that people bring in is that it was made of corduroy triangles all arranged in a strange pattern that I can only describe as looking like the zig-zaggy edge of a circus tent. These triangles hung loose off the quilt, like flaps, and on the underside of each triangle was a printed floral fabric. And each one was different, individually made. It was...weird. And also a quite lovely and effective design. 

David picked up on the fact that I was taken with the quilt and casually mentioned that he had a few more quilts in his truck. We went to take a look.


David had 14 quilts his grandmother, Ethel Lea Benson, had made over the course of her lifetime (1923 - 2013.) The most striking ones are 5 quilts made from his grandfathers work clothes. Denims that were sun bleached and worn patches secured with tiny hand-stitches.


Over half of Ethels' quilts are very bright and colorful quilts made from polyester clothing material which was common for the 1960s and 70s. Several quilts have a print in them that says "War is not the Answer" in a wavy, purple colored psychodellic font. Work clothes or leisure clothes...she needed them to make the quilts and as a gifted piecer, she used the materials to great effect.

 On display will be photographs of Ethel and David and Ethel's husband Leroy, who is pictured in overalls....the same overalls that would surely wound up in the quilts. David also brought in Ethel's late 1800s treadle sewing machine that she sewed on up until she couldn't sew anymore...well into the 2000's. The machine is still threaded with Ethel's last spool. It's a beautiful red.

 The show also features hand written cotton haul reports for Ethel family. This ledger is dated 1963.

Please join us at Yalo Studio ( the denim work) & YaloRUN Textiles ( the polyester work) for the opening of Ethel Lea Benson: Textiles. Friday February 12, 2016 6pm - 8:30pm. There will be music by Tear Drop City in the Pocket Park next door and Willie "Butch" Foxx will have his infamous smoker, Black Beauty, parked in front of Yalo Studio selling assorted BBQ'd meats and cooked sandwiches. It'll be a good time!

See ya there!
Coulter