Eatonville: Material Culture – 4

Ella Dinkins’ “scrap quilt”, Eatonville, Florida
Ella Dinkins’ “scrap quilt”, Eatonville, Florida

It is difficult to visit Eatonville without encountering some expression of its material culture. That is, some food, clothing, furniture or artifact that represents traditions or customs that could only be authentic “Eatonville”. During my most recent trip Mrs. Ella Dinkins put me on notice that I look at her latest quilting project before I left. She belongs to the local quilting guild. Mrs. Ella and her fellow members have displayed many quilts in area exhibits over the years, including 2007 and 2013. As soon as Mrs. Dinkins began to unfold the quilt I knew it was special. She explained that she was “piecing” it completely from scraps of fabric that she had collected over the years. While she was sorting bags and

Embroidery thread from Nadine Fly’s sewing basket
Embroidery thread from Nadine Fly’s sewing basket

bags of her scraps into color groups she realized that she had enough in the same color range, and came up with the idea for this particular quilt. Once the quilt was open she was able to tell me some small anecdote about many of the pieces since none of them had originally been the same size or shape. I could not have received a better lesson in color theory in an advanced art or design class. She also explained that she uses embroidery thread to sew all of the stitches by hand. According to Mrs. Ella the embroidery thread is stronger and adds to the aesthetics. She also explained why a machine stitched quilt does not have the same character as one that is hand stitched.

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