By Joel Hall
All next week, people learning about the history of Clayton County at the Stately Oaks Plantation also will have a chance to view and learn the history of quilting.
From Jan. 19-24, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., members of the Georgia Quilt Council will have more than two dozen unique handmade quilts on display during the Southern Comforts Quilt Show.
Barbara Emert, director of Stately Oaks, said part of the mission of the plantation is to help people appreciate skills and trades of the past. She said quilts themselves are storytelling tools. She also believes having the work of the Georgia Quilt Council on display provides a greater appreciation for them.
"One of our purposes is to show people, and teach them, the old-time skills, so the day-to-day work of our ancestors won't be lost," said Emert. "There are always interesting stories about the quilts. You could have 100 quilts and all of them would be completely different.
"Anybody who makes a quilt puts a lot of energy into it," Emert continued. "If they come, I think they will go away with a greater appreciation for quilting."
Jeanne Lowery, owner of Quilts and Fixins in Jonesboro, and a member of the Georgia Quilt Council, said bringing the quilts to a wider audience shows that quilting is not a dying art, but one that is alive and well.
"Quilts are not just for putting on beds," she said. "More women quilt today than ever in history. A lot of people are mistaken that this is something that our grandmothers did."
Lowery said she hopes the show will encourage visitors to start quilting.
Judy Mahfood, president of the Georgia Quilt Council, said another of the council's missions is to create a Georgia Quilt Museum in Carrollton. She said events like the quilt show will help generate support for the effort.
"They can really get up close to the quilts, and see the shapes and patterns," said Mahfood. "It's a good education resource. Even if they don't understand how it's made ... they can be inspired."
Deborah Jones, a member of the Georgia Quilt Council from Sandy Springs, said the quilts will allow visitors to Stately Oaks to "spend time with their ancestors."
"Quilts prompt storytelling ... sharing family history," Jones said. "We have to preserve that history. The only way we are going to is to have people spend time with it, and fall in love with it."
The Southern Comforts Quilt Show will take place in the Bethel Schoolhouse located on the Stately Oaks Plantation property. Admission is $3, or free with the purchase of a regular tour. For more information, call (770) 473-0197.