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.