Thursday, January 03, 2008

Looking Up to Emma Bell Miles

Emma Bell Miles painting, 1912

I've been working on my Take It Further Challenge this cold snowy morning. January's theme, "Who do you look up to?" made me think about making a memory quilt, with each block devoted to a different person. Aside from a family memory quilt, (which is what people usually make, and for which I've been saving fabric mementos for many years), I think a quilt devoted to my favorite naturalists would be fun.

I picked Emma Bell Miles for my first sampler block. She haunts me for several reasons. She had a short life of trouble. Only surviving child of Yankee missionaries in the South after the Civil War, she never fit in with her parents' set, the poor mountaineers they evangelized, or the more prosperous "artistes" who may have stolen some of her work. She seems to me a sad shadow of her contemporary, Pearl Buck, who prospered in spite of her missionary parents and the difficult road they set her on.

Spirit of the Mountains Book Cover

I have copies of Miles' books, Spirit of the Mountains and Our Southern Birds, as well as Kay Baker Gaston's biography, Emma Bell Miles. I want to use images from these books in my sampler block.

These are "Web-ified" versions of the images I selected and scanned for my project. The first is a photo of Mrs. Miles, in her early thirties, taken in 1912. The picture is printed on the back cover of Ms. Gaston's biography. The second is the cover of Spirit of the Mountains, and the last two are from Our Southern Birds. The frontispiece is the painting of the Fox Sparrow, and the "Bird Map" is meant to teach descriptive terms to the young birders for whom the book was intended.

Fox Sparrow, from Our Southern Birds Emma Bell Miles Bird Map

5 comments:

paulahewitt said...

Wow - great blog - I'm going to have to go back and read your old posts. I havent heard of Emma Bell Miles - I'll have to read more. I was struck that the book cover had colours similar to Sharons colour challenge! looking forward to following your progess

Rebecca Clayton said...

Thanks, Paula! I'd told myself I didn't have any materials on hand that would let me work with that color scheme. It's unpredictable what color the fabric will turn once you iron the transfer material, but perhaps I'll be able to use the color scheme after all. I'm glad you pointed that out to me.

Barbara Hagerty said...

Like Paula, the first thing I noticed was the color of the book cover! This sounds wonderful!

Lori Witzel said...

Wow, she had some skillz!!! Thanks for sharing this, now (another "like Paula") I need to dig further into Emma Bell Miles' work.

Anne said...

You may be interested to know an Emma Bell Miles Celebration is planned for October 18, 2009 on Signal Mountain, TN (Walden's Ridge, Emma's home territory). There should be a website up in a few weeks regarding this. I would LOVE to see the quilt square.