‘Quilt Lady’ to be featured at Swappin’ Meetin’
by Chris Jones
Mary Ann Mullins is known by many in her hometown of Jenkins as the ‘Quilt Lady,’ and her passion for crafting intricate and delicate quilts will be recognized during the 49th Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ scheduled Friday and Saturday at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College at Cumberland.
Actively quilting for a half century, Mullins, from the Burdine community of Jenkins, does not consider the long hours it requires to create a hand-stitched quilt a labor but, rather, a means to lovingly give to her family and friends. Most of her work over the years has been crafted for loved ones, and during the upcoming Swappin’ Meetin,’ many of her works will be displayed in the gallery of the Edsel Godbey Appalachian Center.
On Saturday during the event, which is in its 49th year and considered one of the oldest and most successful arts and crafts festivals in the state, Mullins is expected to be there to demonstrate her unique style of quilting; taught to her as a young woman by her mother in law, Thelma Jane Mullins. One particular quilt that will be displayed is a coal miner theme work she made in tribute to her family. In all, she plans to display 10 pieced and applique quilts in addition to bringing various pieces of material to demonstrate how she goes about crafting each quilt. Also, to be displayed will be a century-old quilt she acquired years ago from a family member.
When she is in the mood to quilt she often works through the night. She notes that since the death of her husband Carlos in 2006, she finds it difficult to sleep and quilting is a way to pass the hours. “I do enjoy what I do and look forward to bringing my quilts to the Swappin’ Meetin’ in Cumberland,” she said. “I am honored the committee picked me to show my work, and I look forward to being there. I want to live my life to the fullest and quilting is an outlet for me to be creative, it makes me happy.”
Born in 1938 in the Gaskill section of Jenkins, she attended Jenkins High School and married her “sweetheart” with whom she had three sons, Roger, Tim and Shawn. She has five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She enjoyed her time as a wife for over 50 years, working to be a good mother, homemaker and craftsman. She was 20 years old when she first began quilting, and has worked tirelessly to polish her skills, becoming one of the top quilting artists in the area. She is also known for her skills with a crochet needle and is an accomplished cook.
She is also a community leader having worked to get erected a monument honoring World War II veterans from her town and the area. The process took seven years to raise funds and convince local and state politicians to join her cause. The monument was dedicated a year ago during the annual Jenkins Days celebration. It bears the names of 623 men and women.
When Mary Ann comes to the annual Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ to display her work she said it will be the culmination of years of work — hard work — but, nonetheless, work she has loved doing.
“Quilts are basically just scraps of cloth, material no one wants, a scrap bag,” she said. “I take those pieces and try to make something that will be cherished, something beautiful and possibly appreciated for years to come.”
Harlan Daily Enterprise|Civitas Media
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