Friday, December 30, 2011

The Quilt Shed - Phase I

A space of her own is every woman's dream,
so they say. I would have to agree.

I can't complain. I actually do have a sewing room in the house--and a large one at that.
 It was built for my mother-in-law. I have no shame.  Here is the present state of my collection. Two sets of bunk beds are piled high plus a queen size bed.

But several years after our move to the island, my quilt history/textile history library, research files — not to mention my teaching collection of quilts and quilt ephemera — has long outstripped the space and taken over both guest rooms in the back part of the house as well.  

One of the guest rooms.  All the quilts get moved when family comes.

They get moved into this small shed above.

So, it's time to build new storage space just for quilts so that the family can have their guest rooms back!

This will be the view down the driveway from the deck of The Quilt Shed.

Machines have replaced buggy-whip makers and ditch diggers

Searching for current electrical lines, not unlike looking for buried coins at the beach.

The electrical line comes out of the house at this corner and goes out to the pump house.

Bill Lewis instructs the digger to go down 24 inches.

Where the line to the well comes out from the house, hand digging takes place so as to not damage the line.

A sharp turn is required as the digging heads up the hill.

 The tree roots and salal roots take such a beating but once things settle down, they will grow back.

Rather looks like the Big Guy lost its false teeth!

Stay tuned for the next phase!

Meanwhile, happy New Year from all the Gang!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Indian Folk Art Image on Quilts & Weathervanes

If you haven't yet read my previous post about the Indian image on five quilts found via the Internet over the last several months, click here for background before reading this current update.

Barbara Brackman responded to my email this morning by sending me a link to an image that is so similar to the image on two of the five quilts that I exclaimed in delight! See the iron image below sold at a Cowan Auction in 2009.

You can see it at Cowan Auctions here:

According to the auction details, it is late 19th century, sheet iron, with traces of green paint and was originally mounted on the Red Men's Lodge in Tucson, Ohio. It stands 22" high x 18" wide.

Now look at some of the quilt blocks again:

from a dealer in Pennsylvania

from a dealer in Howard, Ohio

So who are The Red Men?  This was a group I had never heard of before.  But a little googling came up with a lot of info!

Turns out it is a fraternal order that traces its origins back to 1765 and is "descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked 'underground' to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body. Their system, with elected representatives to govern tribal councils, had been in existence for several centuries."

After the War of 1812 the name was changed to the Society of Red Men and in 1834 to the Improved Order of Red Men. They kept the customs and terminology of Native Americans as a basic part of the fraternity. The Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) is similar in many ways to other major fraternal organizations in the United States.

Here are three sources with some history. Click on any one of the three links and you will learn a great deal more. One is from Heilwood, Pennsylvania. One from Arizona.  The other from California. Apparently, there are Red Men Lodges all over the country.

From the California Red Man website in Mill Valley:

Improved Order of Red Men - Background, History, Ritual and Emblems

The Improved Order of Red Men was founded in Baltimore in 1834 as a fraternal, social, insurance and political society in the United States. The first tribe was Logan Tribe No. 1 in Baltimore, MD. However, the IORM claims, that it is a lineal descendent of earlier patriotic organizations - the Sons of Liberty, Tammany Societies or Columbian Order, and the Society of Red Men.

In c. 1766, an association of patriots in the United States adopted the name the "Sons of Liberty" following British Member of Parliament Isaac Barre calling the agitators in the colonies by that name. The Son's of Liberty may have formed originally as an association of protesters against the Stamp Act. Its best known exploit was the Boston Tea Party, during which members of the Sons of Liberty (many of whom were Freemasons), disguised as Mohawk Indians, emptied the contents of three hundred and forty-two chests of tea off British ships at Griffin's Wharf on December 16, 1773.

In 1771, the Sons of Liberty at Annapolis, MD had changed their name to the Saint Tamina Society, apparently to ridicule other existing associations that had adopted the patronage of some saint of European extraction, such as the Saint George's Society, Saint Andrew's Society, and Saint David's Society, all of which were loyal to the British Crown." Saint Tamina" was undoubtedly American.

Tamanend was a seventeenth century chief of the Lenni-Lenape tribe of the Delaware. He was credited with being endowed with special abilities to communicate with the Great Spirit. In 1682, Tamanend, sachem ("counselor of the people") and chief, welcomed William Penn to America and signed with him the Treaty of Shakamaxon. The Tammany Society took its name from this celebrated chief who was admired and beloved by both Indians and Colonists. Tamanend acquired the sobriquet, "Saint Tammany".

The other three quilts resemble the Mayan figure more in my opinion that I showed you in my previous post, but my guess is that they too may have been created as a result  of association with members of a Red Men Lodge.

We will probably never know for sure but do notice that the headdress on each of the five quilts contains five prongs, i.e. feathers.

Again, if you spot any more quilts in this pattern, please let me know.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Folk Art Quilt Features Native American

Above is a quilt I saw on-line at a Case Antiques auction in September 2011 located in Knoxville, Tennessee. It looked so familiar, yet I could not recall where I had seen it.

Today I was flipping thru my copy of Woodard & Greenstein's "Twentieth Century Quilts 1900-1950" published by E.P. Dutton in 1988, and there it was on page 63.

What do you suppose the odds might be that these two quilts were made in the same community?  The Case Auction took place in Kentucky.  The Woodard-Greenstein book say the golden-colored "Indian" quilt originated in Pennsylvania. Oh, wouldn't the sources of these two quilts be a fun mystery to track down!


Thanks to a lot of sleuthing on another AQSG member's part (my friend Barb Garrett), two more Indian quilts have now been located on the Internet.

The 3rd one -- blue and red -- may well be the original one that inspired all others. I am posting photos of it courtesy of Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, LLC of York County, PA. YOu can also see these photos on his website here. Do take some time to browse his website by clicking here to see more great Americana!

Here is the description of the above quilt from the Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, LLC website:


This ca 1910 window pane quilt, with nine Indians holding drawn bows, is one of the best folk image quilts I have seen reach the marketplace in the past year. The fact that it transcends several categories of Americana: quilts, folk art, and Native American-related art, makes it all the more desirable and extraordinary. Take note of how the squat form of the figures closely resembles that of the hood ornaments found on late 19th century freight trains.

Only three or so Indian quilts are known in this basic design. Of these, two (both red and blue) came out of Pennsylvania German estates in the Lebanon County - Berks County region. This is believed to be one of those two.

The 4th such quilt was found by Barb here at still another antique dealer in Howard, Ohio. Be sure to click on the additional photos on their website. Their business is called America's Antiques LLC. They have quite a presence on eBay as well. Definitely worth checking them out, too. (I have no affiliation with any of these dealers.)

The description reads:

This 1950's Indian crib quilt is made with dark peach cotton for the Indians, chocolate brown cotton for the sashing and borders, and bright white cotton for the zig zags and background.  It measures 49" x 45", has a thin cotton batting, a machine applied binding, and a red & white checked back.  Hand quilted with radiating Chevron quilting on the blocks and outline quilting on the sashing & borders @ 6 stitches per inch.  Professionally hand laundered, we found very, very light bleed around the Indians, a couple faint spots, and a couple professional repairs to the white background.  This is a very rare crib quilt - the first we've had in over 30 years!!

Well, I still don't have a definitive answer about what inspired the first quilt (i.e. no paper trail dating back to the maker) but weathervanes are a distinct possibility.  Plus, Jeff Bridgeman, who once owned the blue and red quilt, suggests that it resembles a 19th century train hood ornament.

The weathervanes  seem much more likely the design source to me.  Here is a prime example from the cover of the summer 1989 issue of The Clarion, the name the American Folk Art Museum in New York once gave their quarterly magazine. I found this on eBay today here.

I see a faint resemblance as well between the first "Indian" quilt and the book cover below about Mayan art.  This is probably a looong stretch, but it caught my eye nevertheless.

Always more research to do and never enough time. Half the time I just hope to wet someone's appetite to begin some research of their own on any of these subjects.  We will never run out of research material!


PS:  After this story was posted, Joy Swartz of Arizonia wrote me: Over the past ten years I have seen two quilts with this same Indian pattern. Both were in Indiana. Both quilts were white, with the Indians on four sections in red. The Indians were not pieced nor appliqued, but rather stenciled on. The last one was just last year at a small southern Indiana town antique show. Cheap fabric, basic stencil, poorly quilted, looked from 1950s.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ruby Short McKim Revival

Ruby Short McKim, July 27, 1891- July 1976

 “What is the compelling fascination of quilts?” is a question I hear frequently once someone discovers my passion for quilt history. One of the reasons I give is because quilt history is a natural vehicle for learning about the changing theories of social history and, more specifically, the changing tides of women’s history.  But quilts also have an amazing thread linking them to the study of economics, trade and the industrial revolution.

After the 1880s, quilts also gradually began to reflect the shifts in Western attitudes about children and childhood, i.e. childhood as distinct from the world of adulthood, a trend that blossomed as we entered the 20th century.

Children, Art and Ruby Short McKim

Children and art naturally make me think of Ruby Short McKim, the 33rd Inductee of The Quilters Hall of Fame. McKim's first quilt designs focused uniquely on themes that would entertain children but eventually her newspaper series contained many traditional quilt patterns as well.

To read my complete article, visit The Quilters Hall of Fame blog by clicking here.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Art and Children

I just cannot not resist. My daughter sent this photo to me today. No, it's not my grandkids. My daughter found it on the Internet somewhere. But boy can I relate!!

 I just had to share it, even though it is not quilt related.

Someone needs to teach them how to thread a needle, then hand them scraps of fabric and a spool of thread. The curtains would probably turn out fabulous and any potential mess would be a lot easier to clean up!!

But this story does remind me of something my grandsons DID do two summers ago. It was the first time we allowed them to walk the 2-miles to the village and back by my themselves. They had finally talked us into it, so we had them buy some vegetables to give us a reasonable belief that they would be back by a certain time.

On the way home, they discovered globs of black gooey sticky stuff along the road and, of course, thinking it surely must be some kind of play dough, they experimented!

Good thing grandma has some turpentine on hand.

Let's hear it for curious kids!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Woven Coverlets

Woven coverlets, another example of something I don't collect myself; 
but I do like to photograph them when I see them.

This example was also seen at an antique shop in late August of this year.

You can see this lovely woven Jacquard coverlet is "lost" in the jumble on this shelf. What a shame. It is in excellent condition!

I hear rumors that a couple of researchers in the quilt history world may be exploring the cross-over between the patterns seen in Jacquard woven coverlets and the rise in similar patterns in U.S. quilts about the same time. Hopefully an AQSG research paper will appear some day soon!  The cross-over seems so natural but who influenced who the most, I wonder?

 Joseph Jacquard invented a very sophisticated type of loom that first arrived in the U.S. about 1820. Safford and Bishop, in America's Quilts and Coverlets, state that there were many pattern books for the Jacquard loom so why couldn't quilters have borrowed from those pattern books as well?

I was curious as to why the earlier Double Weave coverlets did not contain a name or date. Safford and Bishop suggest it is because the Jacquard loom could now produce elaborate wide borders and said borders became a distinguishing feature of the large un-seamed coverlets. In contrast, the earlier narrow looms forced forced weavers  to create seamed Double Weave coverlets. But with the large border the Jacquard loom could produce, the weaver now had the option of adding something unique in the corner of the border, if he so chose. So why not a name and a date?

Do you suppose this also influenced quilters to name and date their quilts?  Or did a weaver see a signed quilt and decide to sign his work as well? Will we ever know which came first?

Franklin D. Sheaffer, whose name appears on this found coverlet, is included in the list of Professional Weavers found on page 277 of the 1972 Safford and Bishop book, America's Quilts and Coverlets.  

I couldn't find any example, however, of Sheaffer's work in the book itself. But I did see another coverlet that contains the same outer "leaf"/ring pattern (see page 256).  It is dated 1848. (See additional photo details at the end of this post.)

The house border pattern (see detail immediately below) on the the coverlet is similar to but not the same as the one seen on page 267 of the Safford and Bishop book. However, the one in the book is 1856, so much later. It's a very iconic rendition of a house for its time.

Franklin D. Sheaffer is also mentioned on page 211 in American Coverlets and Their Weavers: Coverlets From the Collection of Foster & Muriel Mccarl by Clarita Anderson.  Unfortunately, there is no mention of where Sheaffer lived or worked, though we do know that the great majority of this type of coverlet were apparently woven in PA, NY, OH and Indiana. Safford and Bishop also record a few known and identifiable weavers from New Jersey and Michigan.

In the Anderson book it is stated that it is unknown whether Sheaffer was the weaver or the client of the coverlet dated 1849 bearing his name, and, according to Anderson, 1849 is the only date known to carry his name.

As a client, could there be more than one coverlet bearing one's name? Did weavers put the name of a client on every coverlet they made for that individual client?  I shall have to check with a few friends who are into woven coverlets  to see if they can enlighten me. 

Now that I have done this much research today, I wonder if I should have purchased this coverlet! If I had had an iPad with me that day, I could have discovered all this info on-line while still in the antique shop! 

Nah, I don't need to start collecting woven coverlets or buttons. No room in my house for more than quilts and books! And not enough money in my budget to to allow the collecting bug to do any more damage!

Enjoy these coverlets wherever you see them, and do take a few minutes to visit the Foster & Muriel Mccarl Gallery now! Just click here



PS-1:  See a previous post about another woven coverlet I discovered right here in the San Juan Islands. 

PS-2: A little footnote in the comparison of patterns:

Did this pattern inspire appliqued wreaths in the 1840s-50s or vice-a-versa?  The quilt below was seen in an online auction in September 2011.

Actually, I think this feathered wreath pattern pre-dated both the coverlet and the quilt. When I discover something that contains a similar wreath that pre-dates 1840, 
I'll add it to this post.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Teddy Bear - Strangest Quilt in My Collection

Teddy Bears have been ubiquitous in our culture since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Here is a link to how Roosevelt became connected with the bear. We in this day and age would find appaling what his friends did. Thank goodness, Roosevelt did, too, and refused to shoot the poor bear, though he insisted that his friends put the poor bear out of its misery.

The incident became widely known as a result of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902.

Morris and Rose Michtom created the first Teddy Bear in 1903, and with Roosevelt's permission, named it Teddy. 

Like our Beanie Babies of a decade ago, the Teddy Bear was such an outrageous pop-culture item of its day, according to one source, that even grown women were known to carry them around in public. (I am certain no quilter ever carried a Beanie Bay around in her purse, right?)

Bear lore in human culture and myth long pre-dates the famous Teddy Bear phenomena of Roosevelt's day.  As always, humans and their myths are a fascinating study. You might enjoy exploring this site that writes on the bear lore of Europe or this one that writes of the bear lore of Native Americans.

So, yes, my "strangest" quilt is a Teddy Bear!

Why strange?

Because real teddy bears surely had to have been sacrificed to make this very three-demensional quilt!

Seems a bit macabre to me.  But this quilt has been well used, as the photos far below show, and possibly, therefore, well loved.

 So why did I add the quilt to my collection? Because it is so outrageously unusual I think Julie Silber would be willing to add it to her collection of Maverick Quilts!