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Queen of Strings in African American M-provisational Quilt making.

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Quilts106 of 118Quilts by Juanita Louise Henry-DurhamQuilts by Laverne Brackens
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    Posted 13 years ago

    (38 items)

    This is my great aunt,Katie Mae Durham-Tatum. In our family she is the Queen of African American M-provisational String piecing in quilt making. The quilts above are just a taste of the many beautiful string pieced quilts that she has created during her lifetime. She started making quilts at eight years old when her mother taught her to piece tops. Her mother died when she was twelve years old. Katie Mae married at the age of fifteen and was on her own. She continued to create quilts for bed covers for her family of two, she and her husband. They had no children. She has pieced and quilted for the public continously. She was born in 1917 and is now ninety four years old. Recently in 2010 she had to be placed in a Nursing Home because of recurring heart troubles as she lived alone and the doctors were concerned that she might not be able to continue to take care of herself. Up until that time she kept a quilting frame set up in her living room every day of the year and only removed it during the Christmas Holidays thru New Years day. The public kept her very, very busy piecing for them and handquilting. She had originally taken on the job to help her sister, Gladys Celia Durham-Henry to handle the heavy load of quilting that she was doing.She to is a 3rd generation quiltmaker in theEdward "Ned" Titus family lineage.

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    1. Susan Seifert, 12 years ago
      What do you mean by M-provisational ??
    2. Leigh Fellner, 12 years ago
      She means "improvisational," as in "spontaneous". A quilter *has* to improvise when making string quilts to make the strips fit the block. This woman's quilts are nice, but they're not uncommon and they are no different from those made by lower income Southerners of both races.
    3. Louise Tippets, 12 years ago
      What do you mean by both races? I'm a southern gal and where I lived there was way more than "both" races to chose from. You are correct in them being no different than>>>>>>>>>>but then a whole slew of my quilting friends are a tad above lower income and back in the day we were all doing improvisational quilts and several of that ladies were spurred on by examples from their own moms and grandmoms.
    4. Sherry A. Byrd, 12 years ago
      Sorry to inform everyone ...that Katie Mae Tatum has passed away on September 25,2011...last Sunday. She will be buried tomorrow,Saturday October 1,2011. I wish to add that she died with a smile in her heart...knowing that her niece, Laverne Brackens ...a few days earlier, traveled to the Washington,D.C. area to recieve the nation's highest honor for folk artist. Laverne was one of nine recipients for the 2011 NEA folkart awards that was televised nationwide on UPSTREAM. If you wish you can enjoy the video of the event at or

      Aunt Katie Mae has been in awe and wonderment that people are now enjoying her quilts and our familys' quilts ans history so much. She proved to be a cherished source in researching family history, quilting and the old days. Her memory was very clear and sharp even at the age of 94. She was born in 1917.

      The family will miss this charming ,sweet lady who never physically had any children....but had more loving children in her lifetime than anyone can ever count or dream of. Her many nieces and nephews, plus children from families unrelated to her ....all loved her tremendously and will truly miss Aunt Katie Mae.

      Sherry Ann
    5. MarilynD826 MarilynD826, 12 years ago
      Hello, I was just admiring her quilts when I scrolled down and saw this comment..Please accept my sincere condolences. Her work was simply beautiful and I am so happy to hear about all of her and the family's achievements. May she rest in peace, knowing that her quilts brought much comfort and smiles to all. She will be remembered fondly whenever someone just touches one of her quilts.
    6. Esther110 Esther110, 12 years ago
      Collecting antiques and vintage items, to me, is all about the stories behind them. Thanks for sharing yours, and may she rest in peace!

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