In 2012, weavers Marty Benson and Laura Redford undertook a project to fully document each coverlet and associated weavings in the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History collection. Benson and Redford spent more than two years on the study, deciphering the physical, technical, and historic aspects of the coverlets (including homemade and professionally woven) as well as quilts and blankets with handwoven elements in the museum collection. Their work resulted in a meticulously researched body of information for the museum, but why stop there? Benson and Redford believed the stories of the Shiloh Museum coverlets needed to be told, and the museum agreed.
Ozark Coverlets explores the techniques and skills of each weaver. It documents weaving patterns and structures and supplies modern weavers with drafts from which to create their own versions of these historic patterns. Finally, it is a record of the lives of the people who made and used these textiles in their homes. Read altogether, the details of each weaver’s life—marriage, childbirth, farm and home management—begin to paint a picture of the lives of these “everyday” Ozark women and their families. One can begin to understand their roles in the settlement of northwest Arkansas in the 1800s, their trials during the Civil War, and the ultimate survival of these pioneering families.
—From the foreword by Carolyn Reno, collections manager of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
“Even if all you know about quilts is that they remind you of sleeping at Grandma’s house, you’ll find Ozark Coverlets educational and entertaining. In the spirit of the beautiful coverlets whose stories they reconstruct, Martha L. Benson and Laura Lyon Redford have crafted a book that is both elegant and practical.”
—BROOKS BLEVINS, Noel Boyd Professor of History, Missouri State University
“This solidly researched catalogue effectively links Shiloh Museum’s rich collection of coverlets to the Arkansas women who created them, often in straitened circumstances. Made more knowing by the diligent labors of Martha Benson and Laura Redford, we are moved by their artistry, their persistent urge to unite beauty with utility.”
—ROBERT COCHRAN, University of Arkansas
“Ozark Coverlets will delight today’s handweavers. They will linger over the photos and personal accounts of the weavers with a sense of sisterhood and gaze with awe at such fine handspun threads and intricately woven patterns. Best of all, they will love using the drafts—rewritten in our format—for pieces of their own.”
—MADELYN VAN DER HOOGT, founder of The Weavers’ School and former editor of Weaver’s and Handwoven magazines
“Thoroughly researched and carefully written with precise attention to detail, this is a book for both the historian and the serious weaver. The family stories of individual weavers are delightful to follow, shedding light on lives of weavers past. The technical writing and deciphering of original drafts including the samples of woven swatches have been carefully done, illustrating the text and original material in an easy to follow manner, with an extensive appendix provided for handy reference. A fascinating book to read cover-to-cover, it should be on the bookshelf of historian and weaver alike.”
—JETTE VANDERMEIDEN, Teanaustaye Textiles
Distributed for The Shiloh Museum