Judy Hesselberth

The focus of my work over the last 30 years has been making art quilts from my own original designs and researching the genealogy of my (Kemmer) and my husband's (Hesselberth) families. While these may seem to be totally unrelated topics they actually have quite a bit in common. Both require attention to detail. Both also exercise my creative skills whether it be in the attractive design of a quilt or in seeking a new way to approach finding an ancestor about whom I know little. There is a certain mysterious element to both because you never know quite where you will end up.

I enjoy designing quilts that are beautiful, yet make people wonder how I did it. While I worked with traditional quilt patterns many years ago, I now find them to be less of an adventure. My recent quilts are designed by working with pieces of fabric until I find something I like. In a similar way, while other people try to hide their "unusual" ancestors under a rug, I enjoy finding tales of unusual, mysterious, or "socially incorrect" behavior among my ancestors--things like fines for not attending the muster in the Revolutionery War or jail sentences, a first hand account of being a prisoner of war, a little Bantu warrior blood mixed into mine, unknown fathers and the like.

While researching ancestors in the Northern Neck of Virginia I happened upon a small historical society where a "local" was passing time with the librarian. He made quite an inpression on me when he blurted out, "everyone knows that in genealogy it is the male that is important!" I didn't hestitate a moment before I said, "the father is only whom the mother says it is."

© Judith K. Hesselberth 2012