Like so many young women growing up in Gees Bend, Alabama, Mary’s inspiration and knowledge of quilting came from her Mother, Lucy Pettway. She says that making quilts, clothes, aprons and bags was a necessity as well as a way of life because you were “using what you have to make what you need”. She has spent the past 39 years using this motto as her guide.
Quilts begin with a design, colors are chosen from materials that are available or sometimes purchased, pieces are cut, and then sewing is begun. Mary uses cotton as well as natural and synthetic materials. She says that “if the inspiration is there” completion could be a few hours, if there is “no inspiration up to two years”. As stated earlier, Mary’s Mother Lucy taught her the basic knowledge of sewing, but she learned how to operated different machines at HobsonState.
Mary’s rewards for her work come when she sees “the joy in people’s faces when they see what can be created from scraps and pieces of material. All it takes is a little time.”
Besides the Black Belt Treasure’s Gallery, Mary’s work can be seen at the Gees Bend Quilt Collective.