Award-winning quilter and Southern Highland Craft Guild member Cynthia Hall dates her interest in the fiber arts to her own Asheville childhood. “I slept under an antique quilt in my grandmother’s home,” she says, a quilt made by her great-great-great-aunt. “I think that has left a lasting impression on me.”
“My grandmother always made most of my clothes while I was growing up,” she says, “and she also crocheted and quilted. I would spend several weeks with her during the summers and she would always get me started on a ‘craft project’ of some sort. I did a lot of sewing for my children and home over the years. When [my grandmother] was placed in a nursing home in 1994, I was given her stash, which included an unfinished quilt and her sewing machine. I decided to learn to quilt properly and finish the quilt. I took a class and was able to show her the finished class project before she died, but not her quilt. Well, twelve years later I’m almost finished hand-quilting her quilt, but many quilts have passed through my studio in the meantime.
“I am drawn to the traditional patterns, but sometimes I need to break out a bit and throw in a twist. Not all of my work is traditional, but I always end up back there. I find that I can use nontraditional colors or settings to update traditional patterns. I really enjoy working with log cabin blocks and whole cloth. I also have many of my husband’s family [quilts] and my grandmother’s quilts, and have enjoyed recreating these cherished pieces. I generally machine-piece and -quilt now.
“Whenever I tell someone I’m a quilter, I always hear a story of how a quilt is a memorable item in a life. Whether they played under the frame during a bee, slept under a stack, [went] to pick the right feed sacks, or loved picking out their clothes in the patches, everyone has a warm story. I am happy that someone can relive a precious moment in their past just by seeing a quilt.”
Cindy Hall teaches quilting classes in the Asheville area, and demonstrates occasionally at the Folk Art Center.