I started teaching a course called History of the American Quilt today at the Academy of Lifelong Learning. I'm sorry my class is as small as it is but 10-12 people is very do-able. Today was difficult for me because I wanted to give some background before getting into all the kinds of quilts that have been made. One thing I discovered in my research was "bed ruggs" (that was the spelling in the 1600-1700 period. The background is a linsey-woolsey fabric (part linen, part wool) with a somewhat loose weave that made it possible to either embroider or hook (as in latch hooking a rug) a design on the top. The yarn of the design was usually wool and it often covered almost all the top.
This example is from the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and was dated 1795, which is fairly late. And it is somewhat more refined and even delicate in its design than many of the examples in a book I have. I read that Governor Winthrope of Massachusetts, back in the late 1600s sent word with his son on a trip to England to bring back 245 yards of bed ruggs. The colonists essentially had NO texile business of their own at first and depended on shipments, mostly courtesy of the East Indian Company, for something to sleep under. I didn't look into what they slept on, but I suspect it was bags of straw.
I was describing how heavy these ruggs must have been to work on and to sleep under and someone said, "they must have felt like that X-ray shield the dentist lays on your chest when he X-rays your teeth. I suspect she was exactly right.
I am not really a historian and there is very much I don't know about the settlement of the East Coast, but I am learning about textiles and dyes and so on. It seems indigo plants were growing in American and so was flax for linen. I believe it was some time before very many sheep were imported and a woolen industry could have grown up. I was somewhat surprised to discover that cotton grew more or less around the world and that the Carib natives Columbus met were wearing cotton garments. It's an interesting area for me to explore although I'm eager to move on to more modern times.
Sometime last fall I was given a selection of batik fabrics in the red-rose-purple-blue spectrum. I loved the colors and immediately wanted to make a quilt. I made the square-in-square blocks but then I began another project -- I think the blue strip one that was in the previous post. And then another and another project came along. So it goes. Finally I put this one together in the double sided way I really enjoy -- it gave me a change to use a wider selection of batiks from my sizable stash. Now it's done -- the top picture is the top, the next is a detail and the bottom
picture is the back with solid squares. Just this week I realized the purple-blue Kaufman fabric (not a batik) that's in the border was just the right colors. For the border on the back I used a darker batik I've had a very long time.
Pheww!~ So it's done. Quilting projects always take longer than I expect. I love the colors still, The next one is on my design wall and I can't wait to get on with it. Meanwhile two, or really, three other quilts are parking in the short term parking area in my brain.
This blue scrap quilt was started as a possibility for the Bayberry Guild show early this year. I realized I wasn't going to be able to add the border and backing and quilt it and have the other pieces done in time so I didn't show it. A good thing -- quilts always take longer than I think they're going to. The ones in the show were finished just in time and this has been taking odd moments for three weeks now. But it's done. It's layered on drier sheets which I find to be an excellent foundation for scrap stripping. Until a few days ago it wasn't going to have the yellow border but now I'm glad I added it. The back is a mixture of medium blues in rectangles and strips of orange. It didn't photograph well but I like it. In this case I couldn't make my photo program crop the picture so you get some of my work corner here in the living room with my three-fold fan proving to be a good place to drape the quilt. I can't resist collecting blue scraps.
The flowers above are "Coreopsis" subtly done by what method, I'm not sure, by Bernardine Hine of Australia.
These stripes, a wonderful play of subtle color that art quilters have been doing for a long time, are done by Kurshid Bamboat of the UK. It's called Versi 1. There were a couple of Kaffee Fasset quilts in a special show of his work, that used color this subtly and beautifully.
The quilt above was called "Backgammon" but I can't seem to find the maker's listing in the program. I like the playfulness of the colors and the simple design.
This quilt is called "Let's Do the Dresden Twist" by Teri L. Cherne and it was "Best of the US" in the international section. It's a very old pattern handled in the "Modern" way with lots of white and lots of machine quilting. The scalloped or "egg and dart" outer edge is a fanciful extra old fashioned bit.
Of course there were many other very interesting quilts. A huge kimono shaped quilt from Japan done all in squares of red print was eye catching at the doorway to the hall.
We had a wonderful chat with Teresa Shippy who had a special exhibit of her old cars quilts-- 27 quilts about 15x25 (I'm guessing) We had never run into an artist who was cheerfully hanging out near her special exhibit and talking to viewers. We learned a good bit about exhibiting and considerations by an artist who works in a series.
This was the first time Rachel had seen a Susan Shie quilt with all the diary writing and canvas full of figures and movement. One has to admire her continuous inventiveness. I've been watching her work for at least 15 years. The same is true of Kaffee Fassett's work. It always looks glorious in his books and, in fact, it just as glorious on the wall -- and there must have been 20 -- a delight of color. This year's Hoffmann challenge submissions, including the clothing and dolls as well as the wall quilts was all on display. The fabric had a lot of turquoise so there were many peacocks. The American floor had a big display of applique quilts proving beyond any doubt that the Baltimore album idea is alive and well but getting a bit boring in large concentrations.
It's a glorious show, we were able to leave here a 7 AM and got home at 7 PM with a stop on the way home at the Ikea store south of Boston. I had never been to and Ikea store and Rachel says I didn't get the "whole Ikea experience" because she knew exactly where to find the items she wanted. But I was very, very impressed, especially at the plate of lox we had for dinner for only 4.99.
On a blog (I think) I saw a picture of this quilt. Then I discovered it was made by a quilt artist who lives in the area and was on view at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, which is only about ten miles away. The Center is largely for drama but has other events -- quite a lot really as such centers must in order to make ends meet and pull in varied audiences. The lobby of their main theatre is large enough for various events and always has an art show. Right now that large space is given over to photograhy by two men. It's interesting photography and deserves to be shown. There is a mezzanine area up some stairs. Art is shown up there also. Right now they have a show by Melissa Averinos a quilter and Elizabeth Gurrier a textile artist who creates figures, mostly bas relief sort in white muslin. Besides a handful of "Modern" quilts by Melissa there are a few others.
This exhibition area is not one that will be seen by the performance crowds except when they do caberet-type events (they were setting up for one) with tables upstairs. As my women poets quilt indicates, I am sensitive about women who are marginalized and I consider this an example of women's work which is, certainly in the case of this portrait of Melissa's, definitely art and not craft. The currator seemed to think Elizabeth Gurrier, whose credits include an art degree, is the "serious" artist and the quilters are not. Elizabeth's work was well done, but I've seen the same sort of work -- in fact, seen it many, many years ago.
However, Melissa's portrait quilt using the style that is being called "Modern Quilting" is entirely new, the work of a highly creative artist. (Her notes say it began one sleepless night as she went into her studio and spontaneously began to work with fabrics ... the method of an artist, not a "craftsperson". Her other work fits in the current "Modern" genre and is well done and interesting; but I think, with this piece she has leapt into a new area of creativity for her.
I was truly surprised late yesterday when I returned to the Bayberry Quilt show to discover not one, but two, Viewers' Choice ribbons on my art quilts. (They are in different size categories.) Truly I had hoped for one on the embroidered and embellished circles. But I felt the poets amid selvages was not "pretty" enough to be a favorite. I'm delighted it was.
Honestly, in both cases, the ribbons are for the "idea" more than the quilting. I am a hobby quilter and, occasionally attempt an art quilt, but I have never, and never will, attempt a heirloom quality quilt. This is a "hobby" -- a word that doesn't do justice to the passion I feel about quilting in general. I love what can be done with textile, with color and pattern and design. But it's not part of my self-definition, it's almost always pure pleasure. A sensual delight in the fabrics themselves. If I can make a statement, as the poets quilt does, that makes the writer in me very happy. I wonder if anyone who saw this quilt will read at least a little poetry because of it. I think, not likely.
PS: The poet surrounded by bright orange is Wislawa Szymborska, a favorite of mine, too little known in America. She was a Polish and won the Nobel prize in 1996 (I think); her poetry has wry humor, political consciousness and warmth. I try to introduce her to as many poetry reading people as I can. She died in 2013.
I love scrap quilts. That is the theme of the Bayberry Quilt show this year. Yesterday I saw quite few that I quickly thought, "I'd like to make one like that." Or "I wish I could do that, but I'd never have the patience." (e.g. to make a whole quilt of 2" squares. But sometimes when I'm looking through a magazine or at a show I see a quilt and immediately think I WANT to make one like that. This is the one at the show that got that reaction. Totally scrappy! A balance of light and dark/bright. The four-pointed star stands out amid the pastels. Close up it's obvious it's make a three-pieced squares (5 inches). Easy-peasy. And the fun of just reaching into the scrap pile and cutting the pieces. In fact, I WILL make a quilt like this ... sometime, not too soon as I have a few WIPs to finish. (Works In Progress) What a wonderful "quilty" feeling this will have on a bed! I love it. (And as I think that, I think, so will the one that's on my design wall right now. The imagination goes racing on.)
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!