Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NEW Quilt History website

Dear Readers, I am pleased to tell you about a brand new website dedicated to Illinois's quilt history. Illinois Quilt History . Included are the avenues and links available online and by mail for researching this states many contributions to the field.

The Chicago Tribune was home to patchwork pattern columns, such as Nancy Page. The 1933 Century of Progress Sears Quilt Contest was in Chicago. Two quilts made by Bertha Stenge were included in the 100 best quilts made in the 20th century. The Mid-western Amish quilters reside in Arthur, Illinois. There is more history originating in Illinois than this, and Illinois presented their documentation project in 1993 and other books about Illinois quilts followed.

As one of the founders of the Illinois/Iowa Study group, today Susan Wildemuth lives in southern Illinois. Her interest in quilts and research started a long time ago when she was growing up in Iowa. On Saturday mornings she took her Barbie suitcase with her notebooks, pencils, library cards, pop money, and little brother in tow to the Davenport Public Library in Davenport, Iowa to set about finding out the answers to her many questions as she was a very inquisitive girl- a researcher in the making!

Hand piecing and quilting came into her life in 1985. After the first class, her oil paints retired to the “things I’ll never do again” shelf in the basement, and quilt making became a permanent part of her life. Sue shares, “it just felt right.” Her interest in Quilt history came later after attending an Illinois Quilt Research Project Day at Bishop Hill, Illinois.

Thanks to her neighbor Betty Angus, who gave Sue all of her mothers quilt paper items, this then twenty-something quilt maker fell in love with and began collecting vintage quilt ephemera. It should be noted that Sue turned down stacks of vintage 1920s and 1930s fabric in mint condition, but reports she has recovered from that brain malfunction and now never meets a yard or fat quarter of fabric she can’t find a use for.

Susan Wildemuth is a city-raised Iowa native who has lived most of her adult life in Illinois on a grain farm near Geneseo with her husband, son, and an assortment of dogs. She considers herself a writer and researcher who loves quilt history and so a web site seemed like a perfect fit for a soft-spoken soul with an inquisitive nature

Sue developed this website for several reasons-

1. To encourage Illinois Quilt History Research
2. To document and save the history of the “everyday Joes and Josephines,” individuals who did or didn’t make the papers, but went about the business of creating quilts that have an Illinois connection.
3. To give people a forum to share Illinois Quilt History stories.
4. To provide tips to people doing research in the State of Illinois
5. As a collector of quilt ephemera, Sue wants to introduce or re-introduce this artful and educational collectible to others.

Not only is her website pretty, informative and easy to understand by any quilt researcher, beginner to accomplished, but it fills a need (gaping hole) in our field's efforts to grow in understanding and documenting a region's quilt history. Just think if every state had a website such as this, with links and recommended places to search for information from a distance, how much more we could accomplish in a shorter period of time. It's a brilliant idea whose time has come. It's the next step in developing our field and building our resources with the general public as the end user.

Check out Sue's website Put her on your links page if you have a website that would coordinate with hers and let us know what you think by posting a comment here or to Sue at Enjoy!

As always -Piece to you and those you quilt with,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stenciled cloth

This cotton panel falls into a rare category of embellished textiles, in excellent condition, considering it was made around 1830 in Maine.

Around the time this single panel was made, the theorem method of painting with oils and stencils was taught in affluent girls schools. When the theorem method is used on most of the quilt's surface , it is usually referred to as a stencil quilt. Small motifs can be stenciled on blocks and combined with patchwork and appliqué blocks. From a distance or photo, these areas can appear to be appliquéd or embroidered. Sometimes the whole quilt can look like applique and turn out to be stenciled. (This makes reading the caption important.) This method was much faster, but required different skills and templates.

Today's art quilters use similar techniques. Their stencils are different, and the paints are seldom oil, but the joy and quick process for dynamic results remains the same. Here is a feast of stencils available today.

Although few antique quilts remain,there are examples in the collections of these museums; American Folk Art Museum, NY, Sturbridge Village, MA, Shelburne Museum, VT, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daughter's of the American Revolution, and others. Links to each of these museums and many more are here.

Lynne Z. Bassett, former curator of Sturbridge Village Museum, wrote an excellent article about the history of stencil quilts for The Magazine Antiques in February 2003.

While at the Shelburne Museum website, be sure to check out their building named the Stencil House, where the walls, woodwork and furniture are stenciled.


P.S. Synchronicity! This info was posted on the quilt history list that I read this morning.
In the August issue of the magazine Early American Life is the article
"Young girls schooled in fancy decorative techniques took paintbrush in hand to stencil these rare bedcovers." You can order a copy here

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Addendum to Susan McCord Part II

Since I sent the newsletter yesterday I found this wonderful website dedicated to Susan McCord and her quilts. View Susan's Quilts here.

If you haven't come across the story about the Scandinavian quilters that was recently uploaded onto my website, I highly recommend it. It is written by Illinois quilter Janet Dykstra, who recalls the quilting heritage in her family.

Scandinavia to America: Quilting Through the Generations


Friday, June 6, 2008

Susan McCord's Quilts, Part II

This blog continues from the first blog about Susan McCord's quilts, (see May 18 post) we'll start here "...of McCord's trailing vines, ... In fact, larger leafs on each quilt are made with horizontal strips of different colored fabrics." View Susan's Quilts here

Susan's quilts put this unique stripped leaf technique onto four more of her quilts earlier than the 1880s circa date assigned to her well known strippy style serpentine vine and leaf quilt, based on those featured in Fons and Porter present Quilts from the Henry Ford

One they named "floral urn," a 9 block of appliqué pot and flowers with two vine borders that have the strip-pieced leaves, and two that don't. Another with vine borders very similar to the strippy quilt's serpentine vine and leaf pattern is "ocean waves," made in late 19th century. On this quilt two of the borders have buds or fat leafs that are strip-pieced, the other two borders have leaves not strip-pieced.

Another unique quilt made by her has a border of a vine, leaf and berries in appliqué placed on one side of "turkey tracks" blocks set into the garden maze sashing. The browns of the turkey blocks speak the 1870s-1880s to me, they don't have a date for it in the book. Apparently this border showed and the bed was against a wall. But in this case, Susan put simple pink and green borders on each end, and none on the back. That's different! It seems that when a quilt is made for a particular bed so that certain borders are left off, at least the borders remaining match.

The last quilt with the strip-pieced leaf pattern is called "feathered star," nothing like the pieced block pattern and it is all appliqued. It is best described as four curved leafed vines meeting in the middle of each block, 9 blocks total. Without a specific date estimated, it may be one of the earlier one's she made. Their caption states that pinwheel stars such as these were made around the time of the Civil War. I have not seen another quilt pattern like this.

It does not have a border per se, instead a wide binding, maybe 2" that matches the white background except for a pink rectangle in one corner. The feathers and dense quilting that is not easy to see in the photo, but fill in the large white areas between the vines, keep this quilt's origin on the earlier end of the collection of 12quilts presented in this book.It's a fabulous quilt and pattern.

Some see this stripped leaf as a signature of her work, and it's easy to see why, but is it of her origin? I took a look through other books with quilts made before the Civil War time period on, especially those with quilts from the Midwest where she lived, to see if this leaf was a rarity. It is indeed!

I found two quilts that had stripped leaves, but not just like hers. Could she possibly have been influenced by seeing similar quilts to these as early as the 1860s? It would be tough, unless they are more common than the two I found suggest. In the 1860s quilt patterns in newspapers and magazines were not common like they were later in the century. Patterns tended to be passed around in a community until someone moved west and took the pattern, templates or quilt with them. In fact Susan moved to Iowa for a short time with her family before returning to Indiana.

The first example of a strip-pieced leaf which is also made in pinks and greens like McCord's is on a 1850-1870 Whig Rose variation and just happens to be online at the International Quilt Study Center. The leaves are around the Whig Rose, but I think the buds on the vine may also be strip pieced, difficult to tell by the photo in the book A Flowering of Quilts ed. by Patricia Cox Crews, p. 75, as well as online. Maybe someone who has seen it will comment and fill us in. Notice the quilting, it is exceptional!

The other quilt that has a striped leaf is different in its outcome, but the process is similar. This quilt is found in the first quilt documentation book ever written, "Kentucky Quilts, 1800-1900", pp. 12-13. It is a red and green North Carolina Lily, c. 1865. The stems flow from a stripped V-shaped base that represents leaves in gold or yellow and green. What an unusual application and it's pieced, not appliqué. It is also online at Quilt Alliance. Click on see all images of this quilt and it will enlarge further.

Before I end this longgg newsletter, did you remember my mention of Susan's style reaching into the political realm? From 1977 to 1980 a serpentine vine and leaf medallion quilt hung in Walter Mondale's office when he was Vice President. The leaves are not strip-pieced, but made from lime green, yellow, light blue and hot pink solids popular in the early 1960s when Marie Pedelty made it. In the center she depicted the oldest tree in her hometown of Madelia, MN. It's on p. 46 of the state documentation book Minnesota Quilts, Creating Connections with our Past. She sold it to Joyce Aufderheide, quilt collector, historian and speaker, who loaned it to Joan Mondale for its political reign.

That's all for now- piece,