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 seamless gallery view, Kathryn Jensen White exhibit
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L to R: Gallery View, "Crayon Etching (detail)," "Buttonbet
(detail)" "The Magic of Six Dots: The Braille Alphabet (detail)", "Little Stabs: Sashiko Alphabet (detail)" "Edgy Alphabet (detail)" 
 

Kathryn Jenson White

Abecedarian Quilts!

Alphabets of all sorts are those little rooms
that are everywhere.

As I was writing a magazine article in 1987 about the strong resurgence of interest in quilting, this lifelong crocheter took a beginning quilting class. I was hooked. After a few years, I hyphenated my fulfilling career as a wordsmith (professor of English, professor of business writing, professor of journalism, magazine and newspaper feature writer, lifestyle columnist and film critic) with my newfound passion to become a quilter-writer, a quiltsmith
who focused on alphabet quilts. 
Since 1992, I have focused on making alphabet quilts of four sorts: traditional alphabets with a twist, alphabets of cultures other than my own, alphabet quilts in various quilt genres (EPP, yoyos, feedsacks, flannel, wool, etc.) and A2Z quilts (which contain a theme-driven word for each letter of the alphabet). They are pieced, traditional appliquéd, blanket stitch appliquéd, collaged and embroidered. Today’s count is about 65 finished quilts and tops ranging from a few wall hangings to many full-sized quilts. And, of course, about 10 WIPs! 
While I have made and will make quilts for loved ones, these days I really make for myself. Quilting got me through the pandemic’s longest days, weeks and months. I read early in my live-alone-far-from-family isolation, which I call my Year-Long Solo Quilt Retreat, that humans exist emotionally on a spectrum from languishing to flourishing. One of the keys to being on the better end of that spectrum is finding “flow,” a state in which you are creative and engaged and without a sense of time passing. Quilting has always put me in flow, even the scut work parts of it. Even when I am within the field of grief or worry or frustration.
The concept of a fixed set of signs, symbols, glyphs or characters that create ever-changing cultures, make relationships, lead to great science and art, etc., makes me think of a line from John Donne, the great 17th century Metaphysical poet. In his poem “The Good-Morrow,” he says of the faithful love he has for his beloved that it “. . . makes of one little room an everywhere.” His beloved contains all the travel and the variety and the constant delight of discovery that fools believe a committed relationship forces one to give up. I agree with Donne. Alphabets of all sorts are those little rooms that are everywhere. My committed relationship to this very specific quilt genre has nourished me in its infinite variety.
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The Seamless Gallery has dedicated space in our Phoenixville, PA shop, but quilts and projects are on exhibit throughout the store. We display quilts, crafts and projects by local makers, who are welcome to respond to Seamless's monthly call for work.
If you are interested in displaying your work in our gallery, contact us at info@seamlesssewingarts.com. If you appreciate handwork and crafts, stop by the gallery and be inspired!