Family Ties and Fabric Lines: Sarah Bond and e bond

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Episode Summary

It’s not a podcast; it’s a BONDcast! e bond and Sarah Bond are two incredible women, artists, and powerful creatives in their own right, but when you put them together, these COUSINS represent an entire family legacy of creativity. Both Bond women join the Stitch Please podcast for the second time to celebrate e bond’s GLYPHS, a fabric collection based on Black Women Writers. Sarah shares her perspective on documenting her family’s creative legacy while e bond expands on the power behind word-of-mouth stories and the rich possibilities of language. Patreon supporters get the video of this wonderful conversation.

Episode Notes

e bond’s webpage

Stitch Please Episode 113 “e bond’s GLYPHS: A Fabric Collection of Black Women Writers”

Stitch Please Episode 93 “Threads Across Time” with Sarah Bond

Lisa’s teaching partner mentioned Tobiah Mundt interviewed in Episode 44: Tuft Love: Felt(ing) Emotions with Tobiah Mundt

e bond’s Glyph fabric collection from Free Spirit fabrics

Sarah, e and Lisa discuss Lucille Clifton’s poem, “Reply” as well as My Monticello by Jocelyn Johnson

One of e bond’s newest artists books is in a show RIGHT NOW. Details below:
Adaptation: Artist Books for a Changing Environment, Bauer Wurster Hall
at University of California, Berkeley

Check out e bond’s online Creativebug classes:
Words Inform Images: 31 Prompts Using Writing as Inspiration for Art
Unconventional Book Structures

Personal Map Making – A Daily Mixed Media Practice

Upcoming for Sarah Bond at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center:

Play with Color and Greyscale with Sarah Bond – Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center

All the Elements: Designing Quilts with Foundation Piecing with Sarah Bond

AND upcoming for Sarah Bond at the Madeline Island School of the Arts: Piecing Perspectives–Medallion Madness!

Y’all, ask your LQS (local quilt shop) to carry GLYPHS or find it at online retailers including Victoria Findlay Wolfe

Here are the garments Lisa plans to sew with GLYPHS: Zadie jumpsuit, Adrienne Blouse, Valerie Dress

BlackWomenStitch Instagram, homepage, Patreon

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork 0:00

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. And as I say every week, this is a very special episode. This episode is especially, specially special, especially for those of you who are lucky enough to be Patreon supporters, because you are looking at, in addition to listening to, the incredible Sarah Bond, and the also incredible e bond. Now these two women are incredible artists and powerful creatives in their own right. And yet, when you put them together, you realize that they are from an entire family of creative people. And this fabric line, e bond's fabric line, Glyphs, which I have found so powerfully and personally meaningful to me, as a creative, as a quilter, as a sewist, and as a scholar that focuses on Black women's literature. It is, as e might say, a perfect storm for me. I feel like this has been like a fulfillment of my dream, and I didn't do anything but wait for it to come. So I am delighted to welcome the cousins Bond, e bond and Sarah Bond. Welcome to the program, everybody, welcome.

e bond 1:33

That was the best. Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 1:35

So the Bond cousins come from a long line of creatives. And I can also share, y'all, that they have been on the podcast before separately. e was on earlier this year in 2022, and Sarah was on last year in 2021. And now we get to have them both together across time zones. And with the magic of technology, you can see some amazing things. And Sarah is going to talk about some of the collaborative work, the quilt blocks themselves, that have been created based on this line of fabrics. But can you talk a bit about what it means to come from such a powerful creative inheritance through some of your common ancestors? And I think a lot about Lavinia being that common ancestor that helped you all almost, like, to get on this path in some way. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Sarah 2:35

Um, well, I can go first if you want. Hold on a second. So my great-grandmother, who is also e's great-great-grandmother, was Lavinia Clarkson Cleckley. And for people who are on Patreon, here's a picture of Lavinia. And Lavinia was born in 1858, and she - so she was born an enslaved person, and she made quilts. And, you know, I told some of the stories about her quilts. But by happenstance, my father ended up with maybe all of the quilts, but certainly a lot of the quilts. And sometime in my college career, I decided to make quilts. And I didn't really know about Lavinia and all the quilts that she had made. But I started making these quilts, and then I later on learned a little bit more about her, and about her history and family history. And I sort of felt like I was kind of channeling Lavinia, and I really do believe that. I believe that she is talking to me. And so, I have been making quilts. And especially in the last, like, four or five years, I've been working a lot with her, just working in a series based on some of the quilts that I have that I know that she made. So she's been a really powerful influence for me. And, you know, e and I have known each other for a long time. And we've been talking about collaboration for years, but we have never actually gotten around to doing it. And so this is just the perfect, perfect opportunity to glory in that creation. Because, you know, we makers, that's what we want to do.

e bond 4:42

Yeah. And you have to understand, like, when I think about, like, family legacy, or like, who's the keeper of the stories, I always think of Sarah. So like when I - I never get the story right, you know, I always have the thing, I'm like Sarah will know, like, you know, who belongs to who and who did what, you know, like she's the keeper of all that. So we both lived in Philly together. I mean, you know, like, at the same time. I lived there for like 20 years. So I didn't really start to know about the quilts, the actual quilts or Lavinia, and all of that, until I moved to Philadelphia and got to know Sarah. So I moved there, you know, when I was about 18, to go to art school. So that's kind of when I got to start to understand, Oh, okay. Cause I knew Sarah was quilting, but I didn't know that it came from far back, you know what I mean? So that, yeah, I was just thinking, yep, Sarah knows. And we then started talking, the more I got into - of course, I was in art school, so I was already an artist, but I knew that...who knew what that was going to kind of manifest into when you're 18? But as I got older, we just kept saying, well, we got to do something together, we got to do something together. And we just never - you know how it is, it just never happened. Until now. And now we're just like, every other week on Zoom. Now I live 3000 miles away, but we're collaborating. We were like, literally 15 minutes away for 20 years, and then nothing. And then now, now we're doing it all. But it's great.

Lisa Woolfork 6:18

I really appreciate how your formal training as an artist, e, was able to be enhanced by the genealogical stories that Sarah was holding. That, you know, you were studying art and certain, like, formal techniques. But Sarah was able to fill in the gaps. Right? About how some of the things that you were learning might relate to, or just be a canvas for, the whole story that was already there.

e bond 6:54

Yeah. Right. And it's also that feeling of, kind of like what Sarah was saying, when she stumbled into quilts and didn't realize there was this whole, like, legacy behind her, like, probably nudging her that way, even though she didn't know. You know? It's that same thing of, like, you know you're this thing, you know you're an artist, you know this is what you're supposed to be doing just kind of inherently. But then you learn all, maybe, the reasons why. After the fact. You know? It's like you said, it's filling in the holes of something that you already knew to be true.

Lisa Woolfork 7:30

Yes, yes. And the thing that I also appreciate about Sarah, something that I learned about you, Sarah, from one of your former students - I'm a big fan of paper piecing. I love paper piecing, it's one of my favorite things. I love the accuracy. I don't even mind tearing off all the paper, I find that, like, a little ASMR to kind of just get that going. It's a little bit stressed me out. But someone was saying that, you know, that you were the best paper piecing teacher she had ever had. And that you had some techniques in particular that kind of could circumvent that frustration that happens when you're paper piecing, and you stitched your fabric and you flipped it and it's just not enough, and you have to take it out and start over. And you hate paper piecing for the rest of your life. So you, Sarah, have come up with lots of wonderful formal techniques for quilting. Lots of formal patterns, designs and habits of practice for quilting. Do you connect that in any way to your creative legacy? Could you imagine this as some of the patterns, and some of the designs that you're working through, could be, like, in dialogue or in conversation with your larger legacy?

Sarah 8:56

It's really interesting to me that you use the word "conversation" because we're going to talk about that a little bit later. But I have always felt as though quilt design and fabric placement, even if, you know - because that's design, even if you're using someone else's pattern. Fabric placement is still a large part of design. And I feel like on a quilt, that's always what it is. It's a conversation. It's a conversation between the different fabrics, the different colors that you have going on on a quilt. As to, you know, any really innovative techniques, I don't know if they're that innovative. I know that I learned to paper piece sort of in a room by myself. And then I came out of the room, and I found out that other people were doing these things differently. And there were a lot of these, you know, very careful trimming techniques, and a lot of anxiety about this, that and the other thing. And really I think mostly, when I'm teaching paper piecing, mostly I'm just trying to say, you know, this is just a tool. This is just something so that we can get those nice points, we can get those nice, you know, sharp edges, we get everything lined up, and we don't have to cut and sew as carefully as if we were trying to sew these little pieces together in this way. And, um, I mean, mostly, I think it's just - I try to tell people, you know, just relax. You know? This is not, you know, rocket science, whatever. I mean, I don't mean to denigrate, you know, our craft, because it's a marvelous craft, but just removing some of that anxiety from the whole process. I do pre-cut my pieces. And I do paper piece a little bit differently than a lot of folks; I go from the side that the design is on, and I just slide it underneath, and anchor it at one end with the needle in the machine. And then I can lift it up and line it up after it's already set. Because, you know, people get so worried about whether it's lined up properly, or whether - it does get a little bit, you know, anxiety-inducing. But if you - first of all, if you just relax a little bit, um, and then, you know, my best friend is my seam ripper. Rip all the time. All the time. Now, some people who have been quilting for 40 years don't make those mistakes anymore. I make them all the time. I make them when I'm teaching. So it's like, you guys, just get used to this as part of the process, and then you don't have to be so anxious.

Lisa Woolfork 11:51

That's right. I love that you have - that un-sewing also can be a component of sewing, and it's not a punishment. And it's not a judgment. And sometimes it can be very difficult for joy and anxiety to coexist.

Sarah 12:07

That is profound. Let's write that down. A t-shirt that says that, wow.

Lisa Woolfork 12:13

And so, the way that I'm thinking about it, is that you are introducing joy into the process and reminding people that, hey, what we are doing is powerful, it's engaging, it's a really important - you know, in my mind, at least - historical and very rich and life-affirming cultural practice. And yet, you can do it and smile. You can do it and have some great banging music in the background to kind of keep you motivated. And if you make a mistake, guess what? You can unmake that mistake. You know? And that is okay.

Sarah 12:49

Actually, it's even, you know, easier to recover from your mistakes in quilting than in almost anything else. Like, if you screw it up, you know, just rip it out and resew it, it's no big deal.

Lisa Woolfork 13:01

No big deal.

e bond 13:03

This is why we get along so well, Lisa, because that is my same theory on art-making. Like, it's just like, it's not that deep. Everybody just take a breath. You know, and you learn the most from the mistakes anyway. So like, why are we like trying not to have them? I don't get it.

Lisa Woolfork 13:19

You learn the most from the mistakes.

e bond 13:23

Yeah. So, like, to not have them just feels like a waste of so much knowledge, you know? Like when it goes perfectly the whole way through, like, I mean, that's okay, I guess. But like, I just always have piles of like, the off-cuts, or the things that don't, you know, that didn't make the cut, because those are like, super cool. And they'll be used for something else.

Lisa Woolfork 13:34

Yes, yes. And that the mistakes, like - I recently worked on a project for my class, and I was printing some words on fabric for the students to stitch on. We've been practicing redaction. And so I have a teaching partner who's a wonderful artist, Tobia Mundt. She's really great. And so, I was printing them using my sublimation printer, and some of them got blurred. And I was like, Oh, no, these are blurry. Now we can't use these. And she was like, These are the best ones.

They're perfect. I was gonna say blurry, like, blurry words? That sounds fantastic.

And the words were from the Declaration of Independence.

e bond 14:28

Well, what's more fuzzy than that? That's perfect.

Lisa Woolfork 14:31

What is more fuzzy than American democracy?

e bond 14:34

Right? Like, I'd be like, yes.

Sarah 14:39

Oh, that's great. Make some more of those and send them to me.

e bond 14:42

Actually, yeah. Just keep, like - yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 14:45

More blurry. More blurry! I was at a lecture yesterday, a great discussion about a wonderful book that I've been teaching and really love, and I interviewed the author, Jocelyn Johnson. The name of the book is My Monticello, and it's a collection of short stories and a novella, all set in Virginia. And that title story is set in Charlottesville, right here where Jocelyn and I both live. And she was talking about fiction writing as a way to study history or to kind of assess the crises of our time. And she said, fiction is the lie that tells the truth.

e bond 15:26

Yeah. 100%. So true.

Lisa Woolfork 15:30

Fiction is the lie that tells the truth. And I was thinking about that through the lens of art, and how can we think about the visual arts. Think about quilt-making, pattern designing, pattern placement: how can we think about those aspects, those creative, imaginative aspects that are things that we generate and build from our own rich consciousness, experience, study, history, heritage? How can that very subjective story also illustrate some profound truths that you might not be able to find anywhere else? I don't know. I was just thinking through that as an idea. Do y'all have any thoughts on that? What do you think?

Sarah 16:21

Oh, yeah, well, you know, quilts have been used to tell stories for a long time. Maybe e can talk about that. I actually, I wish that you'd give me that question before because I have a quilt that has that story. So, y'all talk.

e bond 16:42

Okay. Okay. Well, when you said that to me, Lisa, I immediately thought of - just that usually the specific is the global. You know? Like, the more specific you can make something, especially in writing, especially in art, um, the more it is exactly your story, the more it becomes the universal. So, to me, that's exactly what she's, you know - it's weird, it seems like it would be counterintuitive, but it really is always true, you know? Like, you can find yourself in someone's very specific story almost more than when someone tries to make the story fit everyone.

Lisa Woolfork 17:29

Yes, yes. And that there's something about drilling down into that which kind of hits the deep core of who we are, and what it means to kind of understand our place in the world. How do we manage or navigate these crises or things that like, that seem not to make sense? YWe can put the answer, or our answer, to that question into an art object, into an art piece, into a design, into a pattern. And when someone looks at it, it strikes something in them in the same way that it was meaningful for you when you were creating it.

e bond 18:15

Yep. Yeah, completely. I think that that's half of the reason I think we make things. One is to kind of explain it to ourselves, but two is then to somehow maybe find some kinship in someone else in that same feeling, you know? And you're lucky when someone can at least express it back to you and say, Oh, yes, I feel that too. That's like the bonus part. But yeah, just the actually explaining it to yourself part is a huge part.

Lisa Woolfork 18:48

Absolutely. Oh, I agree. I agree. Sarah, did you find the quilt?

Sarah 18:53

I did. I'm just going to tell a little bit about it first. So I did not set out to make a statement quilt with this quilt. I was playing with a classic design, the New York Beauty. And then I was playing around, I was sort of in the middle of this stage where I've been playing with neutrals and grayscale. And all of a sudden, as I was working, it turned into a statement on liberty and freedom and the subjective nature of that. And how many people want to tell you when you're telling a story of lack of freedom or lack of liberty or unbalanced justice. And they tell you, it's the same, it's the same. So this, I call this Shadow Liberty, and it's not the best way to show a quilt but I'll send you a picture of it.

Lisa Woolfork 20:05

Oh yes.

e bond 20:06

Oh, cool. Okay, okay.

Lisa Woolfork 20:07

Oh, I love this one. I love this one. Y'all, if you're not a Patreon supporter, why not? It's only like $2 a month.

e bond 20:18

That one's gorgeous, Sarah. I don't know if I've ever seen this one.

Lisa Woolfork 20:23

So y'all, do you usually hang it, Sarah, from left to right? Do you usually hang it so that the gray is at the top going down?

Sarah 20:32

The sleeve is here. So this is how I usually hang it.

e bond 20:35

Okay. So color into gray.

Lisa Woolfork 20:38

Yes. So it starts from left to right, these gorgeous, bright colors. And if you're familiar with the New York Beauty block, you know that it's based on some of the spikes around the crown of Lady Liberty at the Statue of Liberty. Even that is the story of erased Blackness, because the Statue of Liberty was meant to have chains that were broken to represent, you know, free people, Black people being you know, free. And now they basically took the chains off. And so that - I love that. I love that block. And I love what you did with that treatment. It starts out in this gorgeous, gorgeous, bright, rich intense color, and then fades to black, kind of. The center block with like, my favorite colors, with that purple going to gray? I don't know. It really does look like the faded and drained promises of America.

Sarah 21:40

Exactly. So really what this is, is that if you're not looking really closely, you could think that the two halves are the same. But because there's a similar structure, there's a similar values in the fabrics, because what I did was to photograph the colorful ones, and then change them to grayscale and then choose fabrics that would mirror that. You know, playing with color, and then I was playing with grayscale. So really, the point is - I'll do it this way, because then you can see it. It looks the same, right?

e bond 22:17

Totally. Yeah. Cause when you squint, it's the same value across the color to the gray.

Sarah 22:23

Right. So if you're not looking well, or if you don't want to see it, it looks the same. But if you really look, you know, with eyes that want to see: it is not the same.

e bond 22:40

I love it so much.

Lisa Woolfork 22:42

I love it. I absolutely love it. I love it.

Sarah 22:49

So yes, quilts can make statements and yes, they have for many years. And yes, it can come - I mean, I think it comes, you know, from the same place that the other creativity comes from. Which for me, I really do believe that it comes from the ancestors, some of it. And, you know, the other thing that I always say is that, you know, Lavinia was born in 1858. I was born in 1958. And here we are, 100 years apart, working on the same work.

Lisa Woolfork 23:27

And that is one of the powerful, powerful legacies of your beautiful story. It absolutely is. And I'm just so grateful that you have documented all this stuff, Sarah, and that you have created an archive for your family, but also an archive for the entire quilt community and beyond, you know, to kind of understand the pieces and the process. Like, that's so powerful.

Sarah 24:00

And what is so exciting to me, to bring it full circle, is that now, here is this fabric line coming from the same creative furnace. Commenting on some of the same concepts, and also providing, you know, this amazing opportunity for more creation.

Lisa Woolfork 24:28

Absolutely. That is fantastic. Let's pivot to talk about the fabric. This is Glyphs. We had a whole episode on it a few months ago. I am just absolutely in love with the fabric. I've got my pile here that Free Spirit Fabrics was generous enough to donate to my course that I'm teaching, where the fabric is featured in the course. I'm actually doing a talk as part of a residency this weekend at the University of Puget Sound, talking about quilting, creativity, liberation, etc, etc. So the fabrics are going to be traveling with me there. As part of that it's just been a delight, an utter delight - I have reveled in these fabrics. And I feel like I'm just getting started, I've just got my hands on them. And if you are a Patreon supporter, Sarah Bond has turned on her document camera so that you get to see these gorgeous fabrics for yourself. So e, can you talk a little bit about how this creativity, like these patterns that you've designed, this is a line, everybody, of 16 fabrics, based on a name for Black women writers. And so I am all into it. I am here for it and into it. So can you talk a little bit about like, what the Glyphs' process was like, in terms of building these pieces out?

e bond 26:09

Sure. Yeah. Um, for me, I mean, I probably talked a lot about my naivete and my newness to the quilt world in the last episode as well, you know, so I'm new to the quilt world and to fabric, but of course, not to art. So I kind of approached it, um, I guess maybe the way an outsider would approach a fabric line, in that I wasn't really thinking about what the end product was, but more about the process. And I think for me, though, if I'm honest, that's kind of the way I approach everything. Like, I'm usually not thinking about the end product, because I'm more of just a process-based person. So I kind of like to give myself assignments, so this was, to me, a drawing assignment. This was an experiment in drawing. And it was based in language, because I just had a lot of questions about language - I mean, for years and years, but this was just another place to kind of play out some of those questions, and think about language in almost like pre-language. You know, like, even before language, before what we would think of as language as humans, like what might the beginning of a language have looked like, what might it encompass, what could it hold in terms of meaning, but also just in the forms, in the actual visual forms. So that's how that all really started. And again, just like we were talking about previously, that's the wide thought, right? But the small thought, not small in meaning in any way, but the thought that was closest to me was, well then how did language affect me? Because again, it's like, I'm the maker, I'm the person who was interested in this question, so it has to come from me. So when I'm thinking about who were the people who taught me what language could hold, who were the people who taught me the huge capacity for the beauty of language, then it came to these women, you know? So that's how I got there, you know? But it's like a stepping stone of like, you know, like, the universal to the personal. In this way, I was going that way from outward in. So I ended up by the very end of the process thinking, well, they have to be named after these women, you know? Like, so, it was almost like, Oh, what was I thinking, you know? Like, it would have to be named based on these women. And so then that itself was a process of going back and looking at all of the things that were made as these, you know, amorphous shapes or patterns or whatever, and then thinking about them in very specific ways, like, what do they represent? And who represents the things that I was feeling in these drawings?

Lisa Woolfork 29:22

Yes. And what I appreciate about what you've described, is that it also seems a wonderful introduction to the collaborative work that you and Sarah are doing. When you're talking about the capacity for meaning or beauty and how that works in language, you were able to transform that into designs that then are now on fabric, which is the basis for another form of creativity.

e bond 29:50

Yeah, hopefully. I think, like, hopefully they just were openings. You know, like, they're just doors. Like, I just, you know, made things that then someone else can go and find their own, you know, questions and thoughts and all the things. And of course, knowing Sarah and working closely with Sarah, when she starts to talk about it, I'm blown away. Because again, that's someone else who's now walked through the door. And now she's, you know, taking all these different things from it, and probably opening up a bunch of other thoughts for, you know, other people.

Sarah 30:25

For me, it's especially exciting, because you're not a quilter. Because this is not, you know, sort of ordinary quilting cotton. This is, you know, a whole different scale. And just, you know, it just opens up so much more possibility because it's not made for quilting, so you have to bend a little bit. And that's when magic happens, is when you bend.

e bond 31:02

Yeah. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. Because yeah, like, I always look at the possibility of being the outsider in something as an opportunity. You know, like, I don't see it as a bad thing at all. I'm always like, super jazzed for, like, someone to ask me to do a project I know nothing about. So I'm just glad, too, that then the people on the other side of this who are receiving it, might, you know, still be able to use it.

Lisa Woolfork 31:30

And what I'm looking at right now is, again, Patreon people: you're welcome. Sarah has put down this gorgeous quilt block that has two of my favorites on it. It has Gwendolyn and it has Zora. Those are like two of my favorite ones. Yes, it is really hard for me to say what my favorite pieces are. But Zora, for sure, is absolutely one of them. And just to try to describe it, it has ledger paper underneath, like really, like, deep as the background, and then these gorgeous like, circles, and these bounding marks, and it's just so alive. It's so Zora. It really is, when you think about - not just the line paper, like to write script, but also some of the ledgers to think about her work as an anthropologist and as a cultural worker, as a writer, as a playwright, as just a figure, you know? And I always go back to the thing, at least the way that Zora told the story, that her mother kind of taught her to jump at the sun, you know? To jump at the sun. Like, she wanted her to have this joy in her life. That yes, she is a Black girl born in a time of a lot of racism, and yet there's so much fullness in her life. And that is what I see in this actual fabric.

e bond 33:11

That's what I felt in that one, too. I just felt so much, like you said it, aliveness in that one. And whenever I look at pictures, not even in the writing, because of course the writing is full of these moments of just extreme beauty in life. But whenever I look at pictures of her, I can just tell that she was someone who was just intensely alive. And in body, like she was just so okay with who she was, you know?

Lisa Woolfork 33:43

Very much so. The reason that she was against Jim Crow or segregation, she was like, it just didn't make sense to her. She was like, why would someone want to deny themselves the pleasure of my company?

e bond 33:56

That's the quote I thought of when I saw that, you know, and I was like, yeah. That's the personality that I think is coming from this fabric.

Lisa Woolfork 34:06

Sarah, tell us about the block. That is gorgeous.

Sarah 34:10

So, um, going back to what we said before about fabric placement and designing for fabric. Um, you know, I feel like any quilt block or any whole quilt, if even if it's not block based, it's about a conversation between the fabrics. And that's why a lot of my designs, I really like these points, which is why there's a lot of paper piecing in what I do. Because the eye can experience these two fabrics in different ways. So you experience you know, you experience differently if the eyes running down the curve, and that curve is there to draw your eye, right? And then you experience it differently where you just get this little bit of a peek in here. You know, it's darker fabric. And then again, here, we have the eye drawing that curve, and then this conversation between these two prints. And I just, you know, I had a really good time with it. I'll switch back so you can see the larger quilt that's on the design wall. I had, you know, such a great time just playing with all these different fabrics. You can see, I can't quite get all of them...

Lisa Woolfork 35:26

I can see it really well, that looks so good.

Sarah 35:30

And what I did was just, you know, I'm not the kind of a designer who, you know, spends 20 hours thinking about stuff. I just jump in, right?

e bond 35:40

Yeah, you totally - I love that. Because you would just send pictures, and you know, you're like cutting stuff up.

Sarah 35:45

Yeah, I can't do that, you know, "Well, the qualities of this fabric, you know..." I just can't do it. So I just would grab two fabrics and two solids and play with them.

Lisa Woolfork 36:02

I love that contrast. I love the way that you have the sharpness of the points. And the roundness, the wholeness, the smoothness of the circle. Can you talk about that in the context of the conversation between fabrics that you mentioned earlier? Because I feel like it's this interesting combination, when I look at the piece, between sharpness and softness. Like, I'm not sure, are they in conversation? Are they in conflict? Do they play off of each other, that the sharpness is more sharp because of the curve? The curve is that much more...

Sarah 36:40

I'm going to say yes. Yeah. All of those things are happening. And I don't know before I put a whole quilt together, so, you know, we have the conversations going on within the circle. And you know, inside this circle, that's one view, maybe. Maybe that's one. So I'm calling this black Word of Mouth.

Lisa Woolfork 37:06

I love that so much.

Sarah 37:10

I put this in my application for teaching at QuiltCon. So if they take it, then I'll be teaching this at QuiltCon. So anyway, you've got this one conversation, right, that's going on within the circle. And those are the conversations between these fabrics that are next to each other here, um, you know, vertically. And then there's this conversation going on across here, right, between these two fabrics. Um, and then, when we take it up, you know, to the mega level, I guess, then you've got a conversation that is going on across...

e bond 37:53

A line.

Sarah 37:55

Across here, right? And it's going on jumping from fabric pair, fabric group to fabric group. And, you know, depending on maybe your eyes going to run on this diagonal, and there's a conversation going on there. There's a conversation that's going to happen between these circles, and then the background, which I haven't finished all the thoughts on that. But, you know, there's all this interaction that's going on. And it's all part of that, you know, sort of beautiful, creative cacophony that, you know, is so much art, and it's so human. And that's what I like about it.

e bond 38:44

Yeah. And to me, it's just like the perfect kind of manifestation of, you know, how language actually works in real life, you know, when conversations are happening. And, you know, like so when I'm looking across these lines and I'm seeing like, some areas are really, really busy. And like you said, like, are loud, you know, like, when people are talking over one another? And then there are these sections where it looks like one person has stopped, so that the other person is talking, right? And there are these moments, you know, to me, the solids are like some silence. And the patterns are the noise, you know?

Lisa Woolfork 39:25

We could just do this forever.

e bond 39:26

I know

Sarah 39:27

We could talk about this forever, and I could do all of these, however many yards of this damn fabric I have.

e bond 39:37

I know. I know.

Lisa Woolfork 39:38

You know what else I was thinking of when you said "word of mouth," I was thinking of oral history. You know? And the way that oral history - this, for example, is a project at Monticello, which is Jefferson's plantation here in Charlottesville, called Getting Word. And this is an oral history project of descendants of enslaved people at Monticello. And what they do is talk about the experience of the enslaved, tracing - there's families here in town that can trace their roots back to enslavement at Monticello, as well as enslavement in other places here in this in this community. And so the idea of word of mouth as a form of history-building, documentation, the idea that not everybody has recourse to an archive, right? That, you know, an archive that's maintained by the masters. The archive that's maintained by those who are seen as the fathers of the nation, right? A lot of folks aren't going to find their names listed there. But everybody has a family with stories. And this idea that we can, through word of mouth, maintain and build these stories, that we can pass these on, that we can hear a story and create an image. We can hear a story and make a quilt; we can hear a story and create a whole design path. Like, this is what word of mouth can do. And actually, without the word of mouth, what is language?

e bond 41:18

Yeah, it doesn't start on paper. It starts in the body, you know? So that's the thing, you know, like, it has to grow so far to even get to paper, you know? Like for someone to start to record it, you know?

Lisa Woolfork 41:33

Yes. And something that I think about a lot is, you know, if we only say that the written word is- and again, this is what we are talking about with language and literature and literacy - but the written word is one way. It is one way. It is one way, and it is intimately tied to the written. And that sometimes people will share things that are not in historical records. Right? And that's why it's so important, I think, as you all have already done, to recognize, document and preserve family stories. Because these are the substance of our lives. These are the substance of who we are as folks, you know? And how we become the people we are, and also how we can pass these on so that, you know, we leave records behind of things that had not yet been recorded. So I love the Word of Mouth block, I think that is really stunning. And it has so many applications that are so powerful.

Sarah 42:46

I love it too. And, you know, when I look at it, it's almost like a room full of people with these conversations and these stories that you're talking about. And depending on which place you land, it's almost that freeze frame of, you know, what would happen if you wrote it down. But there's still all this other stuff going on, and, you know, 95% of it never gets written down. But just those little, you know, freeze frames where you actually get something that's visual.

Lisa Woolfork 43:22

Yes, yes, absolutely. And one of the things that the images do - and we talked about the large scale of the patterns - I think that there's a great potential for these patterns for apparel-making as well. I think I've already identified at least one jumpsuit, and one dress, and one blouse that I know I want made.

Sarah 43:51

I have made garments but I'm not, you know, strictly a garment-maker and I'm not plugged in to this kind of group intelligence. And I definitely want to - can you share some?

Lisa Woolfork 44:03

Absolutely. So I'm looking at this one, the Zora, which I absolutely love, and my plan for this one is a dress called, I think it's called the - I was going to make it for my backup Easter dress, it's called the Valerie. And I'll put links in the episode so you can kind of go to it. The reason I like it for this is that dress is a raglan sleeve bodice, which is pretty easy, a raglan sleeve bodice with a couple of darts for shaping at the front, and then a center zip in the back with a circle skirt. What I like about that is it gives a lot of space for this fabric to play. Right? So when I cut the circle skirt out, it'll be bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, but at the side it'll be on the bias. And so it makes for a really cute set of movements, right?

Sarah 45:04

Oh, I love that. And I love that you're thinking about the movement already.

Lisa Woolfork 45:09

You know what a circle skirt can do, a circle skirt is a lot of fun because the way that it builds - for me at least - the reason that I like it is, I love the silhouette. Ever since I was a kid, I have always liked, like, a T-shirt type bodice with a flare out skirt. I just have always enjoyed that, I found it easy to wear. It's fun to have a little thing you can twirl around in. So I always have liked that. So that is what I was thinking for the Zora. And then for, I think this is Toni - yes. I just guessed it and got it right. So for the Toni, I was thinking about, there's a pattern called the Adrienne blouse. And the Adrienne blouse, and a reason I was so enamored with this pattern is that I did an interview with Jacqueline Woodson, a writer who is wonderful. She was here in Tucson, it was an online festival of the book event. And she and I had like an hour-long conversation, it was amazing. And I made the Adrienne blouse to wear for that event. Okay, so it's just like a button-up shirt with a sleeve. It's not raglan exactly, but it's similar. It has like a little bit of a dart at the shoulder. And I love the way it kind of can show the fullness of the pattern, but it looks really good both belted or unbelted, and it's more like a dress shirt. It's straight up and down. So you can belt it, but I tend to just wear it out, or you can just wear it as a blouse. But I tend to like to lengthen these things to dresses, because I enjoy dresses. And then I had - oh, for this one? I really love the mustard-ness of it and the way that the pattern is running the long way. And this is the Nella Larsen. The Nella. And I thought this would make an amazing Zadie jumpsuit.

Sarah 47:15

I was looking at Zadie after you recognized it.

Lisa Woolfork 47:18

A Zadie jumpsuit is a really easy-to-wear jumpsuit with a wide leg. Not flared, but a wide leg. It's crossbody, it wraps around and ties. It can be a short sleeve or a long sleeve. I've only made short-sleeved. It also requires bias binding around the neckline. And so, that bias binding is a great opportunity to do this dialogue, right? So if I were to do this one with this, I can imagine binding it with the Phyllis. Because the Phyllis is so small scale, and like, to put those together, just a little tiny peek of that. It would probably look like this, right? So just, this is mostly it right here, but then you get a little tiny peek of that. And so those are the garment recommendations that I've been thinking, because I absolutely plan on wearing this places. I just have to wait until I can get some more to have garment length. You know, I always tend to get, depending, between three and four yards. And then if I want to make a jumpsuit, I'll say three. If I want to make a dress with some kind of flair, I'll say four. It all depends on how wide the fabric is. But for 45 inch width, you're going to want to go longer to avoid having to piece to make your circle skirt bigger. But I am so excited.

Sarah 48:58

Oh, me too. Me too. And I just wanted to just do one more thing here. Um, so I've been playing around a little bit with e's next line, and I'm not going to show it all because I don't think that I don't think I'm supposed to. But I want to talk a little bit about, you know, other ways to create these conversations. So here I have the solids that, you know, are talking with the fabric that she has designed. And then I have Nella. No, Lucille. Lucille as the background on this. So, you know, we're sort of going cross-generational in terms of the two lines, coming out either in the fall or maybe in next spring, I'm not sure when.

e bond 49:57

Yeah, we're not quite sure when that next line is coming out. I was thinking pretty soon, like April, May for wholesalers to be able to start buying, but we haven't heard. You know, like, all the supply chain stuff's been rough.

Sarah 50:12

It's crazy.

Lisa Woolfork 50:13

Yeah, yeah. One of the things I love about your block, Sarah, I love how you get that, what looks like a quarter inch, those little bands?

e bond 50:26

Me too!

Lisa Woolfork 50:27

What is that? Is that a straw?

Sarah 50:29

It's paper piecing again. This one is called - oh no, that's not the right one. Where is it. What did I do with it? No, I don't know where it is. But I'm calling this one Root Diamond, because that's the name of the next line.

e bond 50:50

Yeah, the next collection's called Root.

Lisa Woolfork 50:53

Oh my gosh, I am so excited. I am so excited.

Sarah 50:57

But yeah, these are just these funny little stripes. I love a stripe. I love a stripe. I told e if she gets another contract, that she's got to do some stripes.

e bond 51:06

Yeah. I already told her, I'm like, I'm going to make this for you, and call it like Stripes for Sarah.

Lisa Woolfork 51:13

Exactly. Sarah's Stripes.

e bond 51:14

Sarah's Stripes. Yeah.

Sarah 51:17

But yeah, because they give you, you know, this sort of delineation. So it kind of almost punctuates the conversation.

Lisa Woolfork 51:24

It really does, it's an absolute interruption. It really is. And that break between the circles and the line the gaps in the stripes themselves. And the way it replicates the gaps in the circles in the, is that the Nella you said? Which one is that?

Sarah 51:43

That's Lucille in the background.

Lisa Woolfork 51:45

Lucille, for Lucille Clifton. I think the one that I have, the way that it's cut, the name was cut off. So Lucille for Lucille Clifton who I - yes. And we talked about, I think I was telling my students about Lucille Clifton, we read one of her poems, Reply, which is really wonderful. W. E. B. Du Bois got this terrible letter in the mail from a scholar, allegedly - well, obviously a scholar, and it was so perverse. The question was, We are curious about this question. We are studying human emotion. We are studying emotion, and crying as an expression of human emotion. And Dr. Du Bois, we have been told that you are competent to advise us on the Negroes. And we want to know if the Negro sheds tears. How do you have someone who was an actual alleged scholar in 1913 or 1908, or whenever they wrote this letter to Du Bois, to ask if Black people cry? And so Lucille Clifton's poem is a two word, it's like maybe 20 lines, but they're two words. So it's like, They do. They work. They struggle. They breathe. They, you know, and so like, that reply is just so powerful, and the poem's called Reply. But the one that I think that they were really struck by is the Starshine poem, the one that includes the line, Won't you celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and failed? And so when I think about you, and I think about Lucille Clifton, this idea of the momentum in this fabric, the space in this fabric, the way that it's kind of pulling together that type of social, and just life-affirming power. That's what I see, you know, in that.

e bond 54:03

And for me, for Lucille, I get these images of perseverance. Because she's someone who, if you think about her throughout the trajectory of her career, she talked about the same thing for the entire time that she was writing. And there's something about like, those tight little circles that just was like, You're not listening. You're not listening. I'm going to say it again. I'm going to say it again. Black women are here. Black women are here. You know, like, it's like, she just said the same thing over and over and over in a million beautiful ways, but it really was just like, we're here, you know? And, um, there's also something about that pattern too that reminds me of, almost like just a tablecloth or something, where I see her just sitting at a kitchen table, you know, like, doing this every day. You know? It's like the people who do the thing every single day that don't get any, you know, acknowledgment or whatever, but then you look back on a 60-year career of it, and you're just blown away by it. Every single poem I ever read of hers, I'm just blown away.

Lisa Woolfork 55:13

Yes, absolutely. And the depth of her commitment and her love of Black people.

e bond 55:19

Yeah. Cause it is love. It is love. It always feels like a filling up, you know? Oh, she's something.

Lisa Woolfork 55:31

She's amazing. And you know, who else is amazing? e Bond and Sarah Bond. So y'all, as we start to wrap up, I want to ask you this question. I ask people this all the time. You know, the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is we will help you get your stitch together. What would you offer? I'm going to ask both of you together to each share your answer to this question. If someone wanted to come to you and say, How will I get my stitch together? What would you say?

Sarah 56:03

I would say, do it every day. And relax into it.

e bond 56:10

Yes. Oh, I love it. I love it.

Lisa Woolfork 56:13

That's a good answer, Sarah, that's a good answer. I love that answer. Now's your turn, e.

e bond 56:18

Okay, um.

Lisa Woolfork 56:19

She had a really good answer, I'm just saying. No pressure.

e bond 56:24

One I absolutely believe in, because I'm a fan of - I mean, just when we were talking about Lucille, I'm just a fan of dailiness. I guess I would say, how do I get my stitch together, I would just say, pay attention to all of the things that you do when no one else is watching. Because that's probably where all your joy is. And that's probably where all your curiosity is, and stop worrying about all the things that you're trying to do for other people. Just pay attention to, like, what you do when like, you know, you've got five extra minutes in your day, you know? Because I can tell when Sarah, she's cutting up a quilt. Like, you find the things, you just go to the things that you love. So just do that. You know? Just do that.

Lisa Woolfork 57:23

I love it. On that note, y'all, this has been amazing, like I knew it would be. Thank you so much for this delightful and insightful and powerful conversation. And we will keep our eyes peeled for new fabric collections and exciting developments at QuiltCon 2023. And all of these things that we're really looking forward to. So thank you all both so much for being here. It's been amazing.

e bond 57:52

Thank you.

Sarah 57:53

Thanks for having us. Again, always a thrill to talk, really. It's so much fun.


You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch to sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N. You can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them, so I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews but for those who do for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments. If you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the Stitch Please podcast that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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