Balls of wool with knitting needles isolated on white background

“These groups have, in many cases, become essential community support mechanisms in times of need; while other crafts, saddlery and metal work, have contributed to community celebrations.”

A bit of history will be on display at the Mesa Historical Museum Sept. 14 through Jan. 4 with the exhibit “Stitching Mesa Together – Community through Making.”

The 1918 Mesa Red Cross Quilt will be featured in the exhibit at the Old Lehi School, 2345 N. Horne.

The exhibit showcases how participating in crafts has helped to build community. 

Besides the Red Cross Quilt, the exhibit will also feature the award-winning Mother Daughter Redwork Quilt by Bernice Abbott, Diane Pitchford, and Barbara Polston, founder of the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame.

“This exhibit showcases the incredible talents of artists from Mesa’s past and present,” said museum Executive Director Leon Natker. “This exhibit shows how these artisanal crafts have become in many cases fine art and are still a part of the Mesa community. We have an extraordinary group of local artists coming to share their work and talent with the Mesa community.”

In response to President Woodrow Wilson’s World War I proclamation to the American people titled, “Do Your Bit for America,” some women made quilts to “save the blankets for our boys over there,” as one slogan put it.

Women also made quilts to raise funds for the Red Cross’s war relief work. Modern Priscilla, a popular magazine of “fancy work” for women, published a Red Cross quilt pattern in December 1917. 

Red Cross volunteers following this or similar designs collected money from people who wanted their names embroidered on the quilt. Volunteers auctioned or raffled the quilts to raise more money. Following the war, some women made quilts that commemorated Americans who died in combat.

The Mesa exhibit notes that “from quilting and knitting, to weaving and basketry, crafts have been an integral part of group activity,” according to a release.

“These groups have, in many cases, become essential community support mechanisms in times of need; while other crafts, saddlery and metal work, have contributed to community celebrations.”

Along with historic pieces there will be contemporary works on display by Ron Carlos (pottery), August Wood (basketry), Jean Doig (lace making), Jennifer Arnold (leather work), Lydia Quiñones (weaving) and Sharon Chung (Metal Jewelry) among others. 

All of these artists will be on hand to offer demonstrations of their work between 1-4 p.m. Sept. 14, and their creations also will be on sale in the museum gift shop. 

In addition, members of the Telaraña Fiber Art Society, the Lacey Ladies of Arizona, the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame and the Starlight Stitchers embroidery group will offer demonstrations of these and other crafts dating from prehistoric and pioneer days to the present.

For a schedule of activities: mesahistoricalmuseum.com.   Information: 480-835-2286

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 or $4 for seniors 65 and over and $3 for those under 21.

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