Monday, May 11, 2009

A Quilt Index Update



DES MOINES, IOWA, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA and EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN -May 8, 2009 - The Quilt Index, a partner project of the Alliance for American Quilts and Michigan State University, announces the public launch of an online resource cataloging nearly 2,300 quilts by 2,100 quiltmakers from Iowa, including quilts and other textiles collected by one of the leaders in quilt documentation.

This is the 8th state or regional documentation project to be added to the Quilt Index, and one of the largest. The Iowa quilts bring the total number of quilt records available at the online archive to more than 21,000, including quilts from museum and private collections. The Iowa quilts are a treasure to everyone from scholars to quiltmakers, covering many familiar patterns like Drunkard’s Path, Log Cabin and Irish Chain, as well as some unusual variations and original designs.

The Iowa Quilt Research Project was established in September 1987 to seek out and register Iowa quilts made prior to 1925 and record their history and makers. More than 500 volunteers staffed Quilt Discovery Days in 13 regions around the state.

While recording information about cultural, historical and ethnic influences on quiltmaking in Iowa, the Iowa Quilt Research Project increased awareness of the value of quilts and encouraged quilt preservation. The resulting body of information was presented to the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1990 for preservation and to make it accessible to a wider audience.

An inductee into The Quilters Hall of Fame, Mary Barton of Ames, Iowa, is recognized as one of the first to document not only finished quilts, but also the methods, manners and social mores of mid-19th century quiltmakers.

Her desire to collect, understand and share has resulted in one of the most comprehensive collections of quilts, quilt blocks, fabric swatches, magazines, fashion plates and costumes ever assembled and donated to public institutions.

Nearly 200 textiles from her collection are recorded in the Quilt Index, including her own Heritage Quilt (pictured below), which was exhibited at the 1999 International Quilt Festival in the “Quilt Show of the Century”.

Within the Index archives, Mary Barton’s collection is filed first and it’s worth browsing through to see what a keen eye she had for quilts. The three quilts shown here are all part of her marvelous collection. Both “Crossed Canoes,” the blue and white quilt (pictured above), and “Spider Web” (pictured below), were produced by unknown quiltmakers, and their beauty reinforces the sadness of lost history. The impressive appliqued Heritage Quilt was both designed and sewn by Mary Barton, completed in 1976. The full documentation for this quilt includes this information about the quiltmaker: “Mary Barton did not actually enjoy quilting - her interest was in the history of creating quilts.”

The State Historical Society of Iowa is pleased to partner with Michigan State University, the Alliance for American Quilts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services on the Quilt Index

“The Quilt Index brings Iowa’s quilting heritage to a national level, as well as allows us to share the wealth of the Mary Barton Collection with the greater quilting community,” said Jodi Evans, project manager and registrar for the State Historical Museum in Iowa.

Iowa’s initial participation in the Quilt Index will be supplemented with the addition of information and images of quilts held in the collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The Quilt Index is run in partnership by the Alliance for American Quilts, Michigan State University Museum, and MATRIX - The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. The Quilt Index merges tradition with technology and springs from the work of a unique team of researchers and experts committed to making significant, quilt-related data widely accessible to both scholars and the general public.

Applications to become Quilt Index contributors are now being accepted from institutions or quilt documentation projects, with a deadline of May 31, 2009. Information and application materials can be found at:

Amy E. Milne, Executive Director
(828) 251-7073

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fabric Acquisition Team

Well, That Explains it!

A recent study has indicted that fabric gives off a certain Pheromones that actually hypnotize women and cause them to purchase ungodly amounts of the stuff. When stored in large quantities in enclosed spaces, the Pheromones (in fabric) cause memory loss and induce the nesting syndrome (similar to the one squirrels have before the onset of winter, i.e. storing food), therefore perpetuating their species, and not having a population loss due to their kind being cut up into pieces and mixed with others.

Sound tests have also revealed that these fabrics emit a very high-pitched sound, heard only by a select few — a breed of women known as "quilters". When played backward on an LP, the sounds are heard as chants: "Buy me, cut me up, sew me?"

In order to overcome the co-called "feeding" frenzy effect" that these fabrics cause, one must wear a face mask when entering a storage facility and use ear plus to avoid being pulled into their grip.

Studies have also indicated that aliens have inhabited the earth, helping to spread the effect that these fabrics have on their human population. They are called FABRIC STORE CLERKS.

Card by Amy Bradley (2002) Amy Bradley Designs

It's also been my experience that these same Pheromones cause a pathological need to secret these fabric purchases away when taken home (or at least blend them into the existing stash), and when asked by a significant other of the fabric is new, the reply is "I've had it for awhile."

(Originally published in August 1997 in the Western North Carolina Quilters Guild Newsletter.)

I found the above article in my mother-in-law's file after she passed away in 1999. She left all her sewing stuff and quilts to me. Talk about a match made in heaven. I now know I was destined to meet my husband so that I would one day meet his mother. She's the one who taught me needlework and got me into quilting.

June 2012 - I just heard from the author of this article!! wonderful! Now I know who actually wrote it - Kathy Smith Harris! You can read Kathy's story about how she came to write this story on her blog

My friend Candy Midkiff in her "stash room".

(Photo taken by Karen Alexander)>

Fabric Acquisition Team at International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2005, L-R: Ruth Manny (TX), Lea Manny (TX) and Cecile Manny (OR). What a great excuse for getting sisters together! What a hoot these three were! I just had to stop them and take their picture and get their names.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Virginia Avery's Art Clothing

Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims started filming a series of interviews for TQS of those whom they select as Quilt Legends. Their first two choices (Jinny Avery and Jinny Beyer) also happen to be Honorees of TQHF.

Ricky and Alex go right into the homes of both Jinny Avery and Jinny Beyer and film them on the spot. You will enjoy seeing these two Honorees in their own environment.

Below are a couple of photos of Jinny Avery at her TQHF Induction exhibit walk-thru in July 2006 in Marion, IN.

Photo by Amanda Little

Jinny Avery inspects Come to the Cabaret.

Right: Bog Coat Goes to a Party

Honoree Bets Ramsey is to the right in blue in the crowd below. Bets just received the Governor's Distinguished Artist Award from the State of Tennessee. See that story here on the hall of fame blog. You'll have to scroll down to see it or select it from the drop down menu under the April post on the TQHF blog.

(page from "Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts", Feb 1997, article by Jinny Avery)

But back to the TQS Quilt Legends video series.

The Avery interview is included when you purchase Series One from The Quilt Show and the Jinny Beyer interview is included when you purchase Series Three.

These interviews can be viewed by joining TQS or can be purchased as a series by going to the TQS Shoppe website page.

Another wonderful source of video interviews of both Jinny Avery and Jinny Beyer are the interviews conducted by The Alliance for American Quilts Quilt Treasures project. When this page opens, look in the right-hand corner and click on the pull down Portraits menu and select the person whose interview you would like to watch.

Seven other Honorees are also featured in The Alliance for American Quilts Quilt Quilt Treasures: Cuesta Benberry; Joyce Gross; Jean Ray Laury;Bonnie Leman; Yvonne Porcella; Bets Ramsey and Mary Schafer. Do watch all of them! It's great quilt history!

Quilt Treasures is just one of many wonderful projects of The Alliance for American Quilts. Click on any of the links on the left side of their web pages to explore more information about their various projects.

New Series of TQHF Honoree Articles on TQS!

In January The Quilt Show (Alex Anderson/Ricky Tims-TQS) invited The Quilters Hall of Fame to do a series of articles about the Honorees of TQHF and I volunteered to take on the series. They call it their Quilt Pioneers Series. You can always find a link to the series on my blog.

(If you click on the photos, they will open to a larger format.)

Click here to go to TQS, then look in the right hand corner of the page that opens for the box that says "select a category". Click on that. A menu will open and give you a list. Select "Quilting Pioneers" from the menu to see all the articles about the Honorees.

To date I have written about Florence Peto (Jan), Ruth Finley (Feb) and Dr. William R. Dunton (March).

I am very grateful for this opportunity to share the stories of the early pioneers of quilt history with a broader public and hope you will visit the TQS website to check them out.

Until next time, keep thos needles flying!

Karen on the Rock