Monday, January 27, 2014

Meanings of Symbols in Harriet's Quilt Piece

In a previous post I introduced you to Harriet and gave a little history of her.  Also mentioned that Betts the hog walked 500 miles from Georgia to Virginia.  There is more to the story behind this quilt piece from which I chose a few motifs.  If you look carefully in the middle just below the star bursts, you will see a pendulum clock. 
According to information provided by Harriet this is the meaning: 
  • Rich people who were taught nothing of God. Bob Johnson and Kate Bell of Virginia. They told their parents to stop the clock at one and tomorrow it would strike one and so it did. This was the signal that they had entered everlasting punishment. The independent hog which ran 500 miles from Georgia to Virginia, her name was Betts." (this information was gathered on the web site of Museum of Fine Art, Boston).  If you wish to read more about Harriet Powers and her quilts check it out.
For my adaptation I chose to draw a modern day clock closing in on the 1 o'clock hour and put a home in the center instead.  I also picked a chicken and 2 duck motifs from her other quilt to add to the farm homestead scene.

And I have indeed painted myself into a corner.  Actually, it looks better in this picture on the monitor instead of up close and personal.  At first I thought it was going to be 500 Mile Betts as my only source of color value frustration.  But nope, the light colors of the people's shirts and the woman's grey hair is also a problem to me.  Since I was considering pulling out the blue/tan texture from around Betts thought that I'd try a very light wool (like the man's shirt) on top of Betts' snout.  It is the same color as the natural linen foundation so is probably hard to notice. 
Can you imagine a pit walking 500 miles?  I wonder how long it took and .... also wonder if she was sold and then walked back to her old home.  I sure wish Harriet was still alive so I could ask those questions. 

Perhaps it is time to put 500 Mile Betts aside, take a breather from the piece and will pull loops on the background of my Santa and Deer tonight.  At least I know what I'm doing with that one and bet it will be a more speedy result for my efforts.  I was going to pull some loops on a heart but think the Santa and Deer idea is a better one for tonight.

Have a great evening everyone.  It was a rather mild day today which made the snow disappear but this nice mild temperature is short lived.  I'll take it whenever and no matter how short it happens.



  1. Looking good. I'm sure you will figure it out soon.
    It is C-O-L-D here in Ohio and just going to get worse. UGH!!!
    Hugs :)

  2. This piece you are hooking is getting more interesting as you go along...
    Love the story behind it.

  3. I am liking the muted, soft colors.


Thanks for taking the time to visit and I always welcome comments.