Sunday, April 12, 2009

Underground Railroad Quilt

I asked a friend who quilts to make a 2’x2’ quilt depicting Underground Railroad symbols. I never expected something so grand. I suggested a few symbols assuming she’d choose one. I never expected a sampler of symbols. She used several books to find the symbols and chose these.

The quilt features some of the symbols used by freedom seekers to guide others to safety or to relay messages.

Most quilts would have one message/symbol stitched into the piece. This quilt shows four symbols. The four corners depict the Monkey Wrench (get ready to leave—gather tools you may need). Between the corners you’ll see Flying Geese (directional prompt—follow the spring migration). The left panel depicts Crossroads (advising a change in direction). The last panel is The Log Cabin (directing them to seek shelter or advising them of a safe haven).

Since slaves were not allowed to learn to read or write it was imperative that an oral and visual system of directions be created. It would be dangerous for any directions or safe house descriptions to be written in case the papers were found by slave catchers.

My book, The Innkeeper: An Unregistered Death, has elements of the Underground Railroad in Illinois. Sue made the quilt for me to raffle off at my book launch at Centuries & Sleuths. The owner, Augie Aleksy, thought so much of it he's putting it in the window as a display. Some lucky attendee will win this quilt.

Now that I’ve seen it and seen my words about the struggle for freedom come alive under her talented fingers I wish I hadn’t been so cavalier in giving it up so easily.

Luisa Buehler


The Stiletto Gang said...

What a wonderful idea for a quilt and for a promo item! Best of luck with your book launch.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Word Crafter said...

What a beautiful Quilt and a fantastic idea. You rock lady!
Good luck with your new book.

Helen said...

The quilt is gorgeous. It would be very difficult to give up. I hope it leads the way for many people to come to your book launch.