Tag Archives: sharon murray cooper

The Gullah Lady – Sharon Cooper-Murray

IMG_0474The Sea Island Indigo Workshop weekend* began on Thursday, September 18 at the Charleston Museum with a rag-quilting workshop and storytelling by Sharon Cooper-Murray, aka ‘the Gullah Lady‘.  Sharon is a compelling performer and interesting historian, as well as a fiber artist and writer in her own right.

Here’s a 25 second example of a Gullah tale that she told at Boone Plantation recently.  If you hunt around YouTube you can find lots more!  And, Charlestonmag.com posted an interview with her here. The Gullah story that we heard was vivid, complete with foot stomping and arm gestures. Translation needed — you could tell that some urgent message needed conveying, but not exactly what (turns out the hens used to rise first in the morning, not the roosters, and the story told why).

beautiful example of rag quilt - it weighs a TON, even without backing or batting

beautiful rag quilt – it weighs a TON


indigo strips provided!

indigo strips provided!

Rag quilting is a no-sew method of quilting making.  Strips of fabric are poked into a loose weave base and tied on top.  We used burlap for the base and a nail for an implement.  Earlier makers used feed sacks or possibly, the loose weave fabric used to construct slave garments, osnaburg (also called ‘Negro Cloth’).  It is a resourceful means of cloth making — requiring no needles, thread, or large scraps.
IMG_0464IMG_0477Sharon brings a work-in-progress along with her, to which we were all invited to insert a strip.
IMG_5395Here is Sharon — as herself — constructing one of her Indigo Babies for the dye vat.  She sells these at fairs locally.
IMG_5363IMG_5358

IMG_5475Of course once I got home, I devised a shortcut — using a tapestry needle and longer strips.
IMG_5477IMG_5480By stitching with enough slack between pokes, the strip can then be cut and tied, four at a time.

I love the back!

I love the back!

This method would be a terrific way to use up fabrics that are not needle-friendly.

*****

Next up:  visit to Avery Research Center, then two days of indigo dyeing in a pole barn!

Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC.  A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC.  Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing.  My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.