Indigo Cloth 2 Dye 4 Day 01/30:

Algonquin/Gullah Indigo Dye Process | Native American Heritage

“Today I Begin Anew!  You never know what events are going to transpire to get you home.”

Og Mandino | The Greatest Salesman In The World

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, I start this daily blog in honor of my ancestral ways of knowing and creating.  I’ll share stories of my precious memories dancing on the Pau Wau Trail in Eastern North and South Carolinas, Virginia, and Connecticut.  I’ll cook and share “Tusky” family recipes while I participate in the process of creating “Indigo Cloth 2 Dye 4.”  I’m preparing for holiday sales and January art shows at the Hammond Gallery in the Edna Boykin Cultural Center and The Wilson Arts Center.  Not everything will be indigo dyed.  Some items will be dyed using marigold flowers, madder roots, and black walnuts.  Stay Tuned!  Share the Journey!

Step #1:  Organize and Prepare Food for Several Days While Dyeing Cloth

My solution week #1: Tusky Succotash

Recipe:  Tusky Succotash (In Crock Pot)

Tusky Succotash / Woodard Toisnot Tuscarora Family Recipe

>>>Carton Swanson’s Vegetable Broth
>>>7 Ears of White Corn Cut Off Cobs (approx. ½ lb.)
>>>1/2 lb. of Baby Lima Beans
>>>Quart Jar of canned diced tomatoes with no salt

In a crock pot place vegetable broth, corn & lima beans on low overnight.  Next morning add a quart jar of diced tomatoes & an optional ½ teaspoon of white pepper. (Added to the recipe by Minnie Haskins)  Optional ½ stick butter. (Added to the recipe by Doris Jones)  Turn up the crockpot too high for approximately 1 hour or until everything is tender.  Enjoy!  *NOTE: I divide the succotash into individual containers, and place it in the freezer.  A bowl is great with ½ a grilled cheese sandwich and apple wedges.

Just One Of Those Things

Death is certain and it’s only a matter of time before  I’ll be in Rest Haven covered in a blanket of flowers.  So, what do I want to create today?  What are my “What If?” possibilities? Cynthia’s transformation is a wake up call for me.  Married to the Covid Pandemic Lockdown of the past year, I’m reevaluating what’s important and what’s not.  For me, it’s walking out my sweet momma’s prayer for me to learn, teach, share and heal by dyeing cloth and stitching.  The history transferred through textiles is an important cultural artifact worth persevering for indigenous Carolina people.  We are what we create with our hands to wear and cover our bodies!  Our history with natural dyes, twine weaving and stitching predates First Contact.  It’s those traditions that I want to share, safe guard, and to keep sacred.

Yesterday was The National Day of Prayer, and the day when the Bible is read aloud.  I read from the Greatest Letter ever written, Romans.  It was a spiritual moment reading the Bible out loud, Live on Facebook.  It’s so much pain and suffering on Facebook that witnessing God’s Word live can bring unity and healing.  My prayer is for God’s Divine Mercy through unity and healing for every living being on planet Earth.  Everyday is Earth Day, because we all live on planet Earth together.  It’s one race of people, the human race.  Our ethnic backgrounds, customs, languages and songs are different but all our bodies work the same way.  God’s Word can also help put an end to The Big Lie.  Because living with The Big Lie has emptied out hell, and is making us live with all manner of demons.  We need to keep our eyes on the prize, and stand for justice and equality for all citizens.

Honor Dance | Kainai Reserve | Niitsitapi

We’ll Understand It Better Bye & Bye

I’m listening to Sweet Honey sing “We’ll Understand It Better Bye & Bye.”  It reminds me of being the child under the quilt frame to Momma, Mama, Yat, Mis’ Doretha, and Ms. Sudie Mae.  Our brains and hearts struggle to understand tragic events happening all around us, but like our ancestors sang, “We’ll Understand It Better Bye & Bye.”

I’m still processing Cynthia Lathan’s passing, and now a few days later another death is associated with her bloodline.  Death is all around us as a reminder that hell is empty because all the demon spirits are here.  But indigenous people of color can’t quit, we can’t give up now.  At least I can’t quit.  It took Cynthia’s passing for me to fall in love with my Darden High School class.  It’s not due to anyone’s fault, but high school was not the best time in my life.  It was the angst of being a repressed teenager who had experienced a dysfunctional childhood. But, yesterday is gone forever!

Each new day is a blessing that’s why today is called the present! I’m quilting to heal.  All thirty of my New Day, yellow and gray, HSTs are the same size.  Today, I’m laying out my squares row by row and sewing them together.  I plan to add sashing and end with a border of flying geese traveling the directions of the Underground Railroad from where I am.  One route was down the Roanoke to Roanoke Island.  A second was along the Contentnea hiding out in plain sight inside Bald Cypress Trees to Catechna Tuscarora settlement in Grifton.  From the mouth of the Neuse River, a canoe could get you to countless places to disappear.

Abundant Blessings! Pencil drawing on paper.

Getting All My Finished Quilt Blocks The Same Size

It’s A New Day Full Of Hope & Promise

As I quilt to heal from the death of a childhood friend, cousin and president of my alumni high school graduating class, today I’m squaring up 30 quilt blocks.  The blocks are repurposed from a quilt I was using to teach new quilters.  Part of my squares are layer cake size, and others are 10 ½” squares.  I’m using HSTs.  Some blocks have improvisational piecing.  I can square up the blocks to 9 ¼” inches.

I begin by sorting the blocks by size.  Using the smallest blocks, an Omni-Grid square, and a rotary cutter, I create a straight edge on one side of the block.  Once one side is trimmed, I place the straight cut edge on a line on my cutting mat and square up a second side.  With two sides trimmed, I can place the two sides on the lines of my cutting mat and trim the third and fourth sides.  I have thirty blocks. So I make myself comfortable and trim the remaining 29.

Stay Tuned For Quilt Assembly ….

The Miracle Of A New Day

Once again I’m revisiting death and dying and the life lessons revealed to me as I witness another person I love laid out at Rest Haven Cemetery.  The death of Cynthia Lathan is a reality check that my time here is limited.  I’ve been living like a fish in a cave since my momma died, and I inherited the house that she built.  A house filled with memories of sewing, quilting, baking, cooking, and gardening.  My momma’s house has experienced love, joy, laughter, as well as tears and moaning from three generations of women born to The Blues.  But time doesn’t wait!

During the isolation from Covid over the past year, I’ve dealt with the brokenness of my wounded self.  I believed that I had time to repair my relationship with Cynthia but I didn’t.  It took her crossing over to motivate me to do what she wanted me to do when she was alive, be secretary for the Darden High School Class of 1968.  God has a way of putting His plan in action regardless of our waywardness.

The news of Cynthia’s passing is still a shock to me.  I went to visit her burial place at Rest Haven this afternoon.  Standing looking at her fresh grave covered with blue and white flowers, it feels raw and numbing.  My pretty cousin is buried in the ground!  Her beautiful smile that could light up a room is gone from this Earth.  But Cynthia’s death is NOT the end of her story.  She gave so much to so many, that now it’s our turn to share with the world what a remarkable person Cynthia was and will forever be.

Prior to Cynthia’s passing I was inspired to repurpose a gray and yellow teaching quilt that I was making into an improv HST quilt inspired by the colors of a sunrise at Pea Island on the Outer Banks.  My great grandfather’s father was a Keeper at the Life Saving Station on the Pea.  Last weekend when I was unable to sleep due to my grief over Cynthia, I completed 30 HSTs for a New Day Quilt.  I now realize the significance of the colors in helping me to heal.  Grief is seen in the colors of a new beginning.  Death is not the end but a new beginning for all us true believers that Jesus is Christ and that preserving steadfast faith in Him grants us everlasting life.  Gray and yellow represents the unshakable hope that each new day is a blessing.

Thank you Cynthia Albrenda Lathan for all the times we shared.  Your friendship helped me endure some of the most painful moments of my life.  I regret that it took your passing for me to fall in love with our Darden High School Class of 1968.  But, I’m committed to doing my part to maintain what you created to the glory of Almighty God, in the Name of Jesus with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I promise Cuz!

Fiber Friday | Mono Printing 4 Quilters

Printing on a Gelli Plate

Create rich lush colors for your quilt projects fast and easy with DIY Mono Printing.

The 411 On Gelli Plate Printing

  • Best Gel Plate to purchase for quilters is Gelli Arts 12”x14” Plate. Lowest price @ Amazon
  • Reusable. Clean with baby wipes.
  • When not in use store plate in plastic clam shell packaging.
  • Cut fabric 12.5”x14.5” for overall creating color or use fat quarters and overlap printing.

Supplies For Mono Printing On Fabric

You can use acrylic paints, inks, textile paints or screen printing inks. I prefer to use Speedball Screen Printing Fabric Inks. They don’t change the hand of the fabric. I use the same inks for screen printing as well as mono printing. My goal is to create warm color tones to be used in quilting with indigo dyed fabrics.

  • Primary colors can be mixed like paints.
  • Inks are water-based oil pigments.
  • Color is permanent.
  • They maintain hand of fabric.
  • Inks are water-fast after heat setting.
  • Top Row >> Speedball Screen Printing Fabric Inks. Many colors are available but I use the process colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow. I mix these primary colors to create the basic color wheel. The process colors are transparent.
  • Row #2 >> I use two opaque colors that have a pearlescent quality. They give depth when applied to a gel plate with process colors. Opaque inks can be used on dark-colored fabrics. I use Raspberry and Sherbet.
  • Row #2 Far-Right Top >> Tools you need include a rubber brayer. You’ll need at least two, one for inking gel plate and one for rolling on the back of the fabric to transfer ink.
  • Row #2 Far-Right Bottom >> You’ll need some mark-making tools. I use an afro pick, a plastic fork and knife, as well as rubber tools sold at craft stores. Nothing sharp that will cut into gel plate.
  • Row #3 Left >> Raspberry and Sherbet ink up close. I use popsicle sticks to scoop ink onto the gel plate.
  • Row #3 Right >> Magenta ink up close. All samples created using these three inks.

Movie Showing the Process

Mono Printing On Fabric

African American Quilt Circle of Durham Celebrates 27th Anniversary

On Saturdays, March 20, March 27 and April 3, AAQC celebrated its 27th Anniversary via Zoom.  It was an honor for me to participate.  It has taken me a long time to find my quilting tribe, and with every connection to AAQC I realize this quilt circle is amazing.  The members are creative beyond comparison, and are sharing and supportive.  It’s like a sisterhood of creative hands working together to keep cultural traditions alive.  It was an humbling experience to present a presentation on Fabric Design at our April 3rd Zoom meeting.  Check it out on the Tutorials Page of this Blog.  Congratulations AAQC.  I am proud to say I’m #AAQC and #AAQCstrong.

View Presentation at Link Below

Link To View Presentation

New Beginnings: Quilting To Heal

Fiber Friday 01.01.2021
#iQuilt2Heal | #BeTheChange

My life became a train wreck that went off the rails on Ash Wednesday 2020, February 26th.  I received the Distribution of Ashes and Holy Communion which strengthened me to rescue what I could from being evicted from my home/studio.  Just as I was getting on my feet financially from teaching in-person classes and workshops, Covid hit and lockdown started.  As a diabetic indigenous person of color over 65 years old, Covid would be a possible death sentence for me.  So avoiding infection is crucial for my survival.  The drama of life in this pandemic brings me to the hardest suffering I’ve ever endured.  I feel like I’m in a washing machine cycle splashing around in an out of control agitator struggling to hold onto steadfast faith.  Jesus is my Savior and my friend!  I pray I can be a witness for kindness, grace and mercy when dealing with the collective sorrows of the Covid Blues in the “Winter in America.”

Design Plan For Covid Winter In America Body Of Work

Experiences of making clay tiles, and multiple units stimulates me to the geometry of HSTs as a design element in my new quilting explorations.  Geometry provides me with a foundation of truth to balance all the political lies and misinformation running rampant in our great American society of discontent.  The drama of it all is disconcerting!  Enduring the pain of my own brokenness, I’m having to dig deep in order to heal myself.  It’s just me and Jesus and time “waits for no one!”  The new body of work I’m beginning is about The Blues as they related to Covid “Winter In America.” I’ll use fabric from my indigo dyed cloth stash, along with my clothes that were rescued from my eviction. I’ll cut up my clothes in a cutting corners improv style to make quilt blocks for HSTs. I’m using EQ8 to design my quilts, and the first design is the cover photo.

But first things first!  Not being able to sew for a year, taught me many valuable life lessons.  In order to heal my brokenness through quilting, I need to bring closure to my UFOs (unfinished objects) shown above.  From my embroidery shawl to a quilt that needs quilting, and unfinished quilt pieces that never got completed. In addition I have projects for people who love and support me who never got past the design stage.  I would not have been able to survive without help.  So, along with designing new quilts, I have to finish my UFOs.  By this time in 2022, my prayer is to be out of the UFO quilt business forever.  I don’t want to die and leave behind what my Momma left.  I want to have a no-drama crossing over.  Today, I begin anew as I sojourn on my restored quilting journey.  Join me as, “I Quilt 2 Heal!”

HST Quilt Block Design From Geometry
(HST=Half Square Triangle)

Watchnight In Isolation 2020

Be The Change :: Practice The Rituals Your Grandmothers Performed

One of the healing lessons this pandemic is teaching me is the value of holding on to sacred traditions.  I have character building memories that helped my grandmothers to be strong, such as the Watchnight Ceremony.  All people of color in the traditional Union States come together in sacred places to celebrate the historical event that ended the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation.  Living on land that is soaked with so much blood, pain and suffering, Watchnight is a collective healing ceremony.  Growing up we did Watchnight at Mount Zion.

On December 31, 1862, during the Civil War, all people of color both freeborn and enslaved gathered at a church, under a pine lodge, or on any sacred spot.  At the same time, plantation slaves knelt, stood and prayed.  The Big Event!  President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation into law legally recognizing that the Civil War was fought over slavery.

So, I will gather as one representing many.  I will sing the songs we sang,  dance the prayers we prayed.  I will, with honor and reverence practice the ritual we performed.  “Five minutes before midnight, I will kneel down and pray to God to walk with me and be my friend as I pass from yesterday into tomorrow.  I will repeat the words spoken in a repeated call and response chant:”

Look where God has brought us,
Look how far we’ve come,
We’re not what we ought to be,
We’re not what we used to be.
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you, Jesus!
Thank you, Holy Ghost!
For what you’ve done for us.

Watchnight Ceremony is about creating healing medicine to send blessings to all who need them with much love, honor and respect.

Life Imitating Art :: Winter In America

#BeTheChange :: #fiberartbycarola | #niitsitapi :: #poomiikapii

4th Sunday Covid Advent 2020 | Creating Art Related To Current Events

In 2006, Gil Scott-Heron released a soulful jazz poem entitled Winter In America.  Now we are living in a Covid induced isolation version of Scott-Heron’s lyrical musings, as we witness “chickens coming home to roost in the United States of America.”  The Revolution has won!  8.2 million Biden votes for kindness, grace and mercy.  We Won!  We trumped 72.2 million fear, anger and resentment votes. 

My Squad :: Oki. Niitsitapi. Kainai Reserve. Alberta, Canada. Siksika People.

My task is to be the change!  Be Miss Melody Cool!  Be true to myself!  Wake up every morning with my mind stayed on freedom!  Indigo Blues is a collection of quilts visualizing the suffering of my isolation surviving the 2020 Covid Winter in America.  My story is about multi-generational Carolina Cerole Blues attached to the black sandy soil with veins of red clay on High Tider Carolina Skaru:re homeland.

We’re entering a season of first inclusions in our United States government.  We the people are diverse and with Biden/Harris demonstrating leadership, and the rollout of Covid vaccine, we are walking out the consequences of fear, anger and resentment.  No human being can be happy and content with a hardened heart.  Holding onto fear will crush your soul! It’s a seed of goodness inside every part of Creation that desires harmony.  My Covid suffering is teaching me the values of humility and kindness in what it means to be free. Life Lesson #1: We have to be the change, if we want the world to be a better place. Living requires change and change is witnessed by actions.

“Difficult circumstances makes for unexplored possibilities.”

Sage Paul Cardinal | Artistic Director Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

Pandemic Isolation is giving me the lowest feelings, hardest tests of faith, and the flat out Southern Country Blues of my life.  In the current political climate the vision is clear for me, it’s about feeling free on the land of my ancestors after the brutalities of slavery and Jim Crow.  Remnant pieces of the hopes and dreams, brokenness and sorrows of being born a colored cerole girl in Coastal Carolina.  My story is told through colored cloth and stitching, and my Momma’s advice, “When life goes to pieces, make a quilt!”

The real me is a down home country creole geechie gal from Wilson, NC. Last living Toisnot Skaru:re with knowledge of the old ways. My heart is that of a Pow Wow dancer traveling the Algonquin Red Road. What I miss most from being in lock down is dancing at a Pow Wow. What a life! My dance is a Poo’miikapii prayer for collective unity, harmony and balance. To God Be The Glory! Jesus is my Savior!