Fabric works of art

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer June 13, 2012 02:27 pm

Hobo blocks were quilted signs using symbols indicating where one could camp, find work or get medical care. This block tells railroad travelers whether the water is drinkable or not. Green block indicates safe drinking water. KATY NESBITT / The Observer
Hobo blocks were quilted signs using symbols indicating where one could camp, find work or get medical care. This block tells railroad travelers whether the water is drinkable or not. Green block indicates safe drinking water. KATY NESBITT / The Observer

Quilters guild showcases antique and vintage designs 

Fabric works of art hung from the walls of the Joseph School gymnasium and on panels throughout the room during last weekend’s Wallowa Mountain Quilters Guild’s 20th quilt show. 

Heritage quilts, antique and vintage designs, lined the hall of the school and told stories with scraps of fabric dating from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

The hobo blocks display was a fascinating history lesson. Quilt guild members pitched in to replicate the dozens of signs used along railways that indicated where to get good water, if jobs were available, where to get a hayloft for the night, or how to access free medical care.

Symbols made of bits of cloth sewn into a block were hung outside homes as a code to communicate with hobos hiding from railroad security guards or “bulls” who would beat them or at least throw them off the freight cars.

Best in Show went to Becci Scott for her bed-sized “Twisted Bargello.”

Betty Whitehead placed first in the Miniature category; Sandra Gray, won Bed Quilts; Sue Wells was first in Wall Hangings; Karen Josi in purse/totes; Betty Whitehead won the Table Topper division; Barbara Witherrite was first in Wearables; and the Crib/Lap quilt contest was won by Barbara Tyler.