Friday, December 20, 2013

Threads Of Feeling

Today, we visited Yorktown and took a drive on the Parkway.

                     Yorktown Victory Monument

We cut our visit short because the Museumof the Arts in Williamsburg had program featuring Baltimore Album quilts scheduled for 1:45 and it was something I was interested in seeing. 
Keeping in mind that this is Williamsburg, I had to smile at the sign that greeted us upon entering the museum.

Mr. O. Was a sport and came along too, and you know I believe almost every other woman there had a "long-suffering" husband along as well. I'm not sure if all the men would admit it, but I believe they found the tour almost as interesting as the women and even interacted with a few questions. We met in the central court and as soon as our guide arrived she whisked us off to the exibit. We walked up a flight of stairs, through corridors, down hallways and you can imagine my delight when we turned a corner into this area and we were told not to be shy, to get up close, and ask questions and take photos.

I believe there were 11 quilts on display, all in the baltimore Album style. They were from the 1800's and in stunning condition. One was a whole cloth quilt, stitched in album style.

One very large quilt (probably king sized) was done in broderie perse. All needle turn applique and 
Unbelieveably stitched!

Although this particular type of quilt is not my style, nor necessarrily to my liking i can certainly appreciate the workmanship. Well over a hundred pieces of vinework, painstakingly cut and then stitched. It was explained that the lady who made this quilt, probably did all the cutting and design, but because of a painful condition of her hands had her 2 Negro house slaves do the applique, and quilting. You cannot imagine how exquisitely stitched this quilt was! The border was a border print in British chintz, not pieced to the quilt but appliqued on as well.

The remaining  9 were amazing specimans of baltimore album quilting. They all seemed to lean toward the same colour pallette, and our guide seemed to think it was because of the colour trends of the day which changed much like fashion did.

Just the cutting alone would be enough to make me shy away from such a project!  

This particular quilt was a friendship quilt for a Methodist Minister's wife who was to be moving to a different community and she wanted tokens of her friends. Can you see the block on the bottom row? It would seem even back then, that there is always one lady in the group who interprets colour differently. Her reds not as dark, greens much lighter, background much different in intensity than all the others, and even though you may not see it, her block was not the same size as the others so the owner had to add about a 1/4" strip to 2 sides to bring it up to the same size with the other blocks. There just seems to always be a "bad boy" block in the mix that just does not want to play nice with the others. I have to say it made me smile to see how things just haven't changed that much.

In a perfect world, if the guide had said, "Wendy, Christmas is coming up, which one would you like to take home with you?" I think this quilt, made by Sarah Marshall Chandlee Pidgeon would have been my choice.
I love the fabrics, colours and quilting.

This of course is NOT a perfect world, so this beauty had to stay behind. After the lecture part of the program was finished, we were invited to the Education room to make one of the flowers. This is where Mr. O. and I parted ways for a while. The project was a very simple rendition of a flower from one of the quilts. We made them from wool felt, and I turned mine into a brooch.

It needs a little more stitching on the edge, but the only colour thread was white, and I opted to wait and use my own black. A simple keepsake of a lovely experience. The other ladies were mostly all quilters so we chatted a bit and I left a couple with my blog address at their request and we parted ways to meet our patiently waiting husbands.

The title of my blog post refers to another exhibit on loan from London. The London Foundling Hospital's Textile Tokens 1740-1770

If a woman had a child, (infant or otherwise) that she was not able to keep or care for, she would drop her child off at the Foundling Hospital. A form of an orphanage. It was requested that the mother leave a token with the child, so that if she ever came back for the child she could specify what token she left with the child as proof of her identity as the child's mother. Some of the tokens were very simple pieced fabric strips, others messages of love and remorse.

Each foundling child was registed in a ledger with notes on distinguishing marks, as well as clothing worn by the child and tokens left by the mother. We were told of a case of a mother who returned 8 years later to successfully retrieve her son.
What a wonderfully interesting afternoon. We ended our museum tour with a coffee and a pastry in the cafe and then a quick stop at the gift shop. Look what I found!

A book of quilting motifs in authentic Civil War designs, and a layer cake of colonial reprints fabric!

Whoever said museums were boring and dusty, never visited this one!


JoAnne said...

I'm so glad that you got to see the quilts! I've been 2-3 times, but I was never able to make the program. Also, the last time I went I was hoping to see that "tokens" exhibit, but it wasn't open yet.

Colleen G said...

Thank you for sharing your visit, especially the Threads of Feeling exhibit. A very emotional tug at a mother's heart.

HollyM said...

What amazing exhibits and beautiful quilts. Not my style either but beauty is always wonderful to behold. And to imagine the work, the stitches and the environments that the quilts were made in.

Linda H said...

Oh Wendy, what an awesome day/experience that must have been! How wonderful that you got to see these amazing exhibits. And thanks so much for sharing them with us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour Wendy. What a wonderful experience. I've always wanted to try making a Baltimore Album, but I'm very afraid. The quilts are absolutely beautiful.


Barb H said...

What an awesome quilt display! I wonder, does anyone take the time to make quilts like the Baltimore today? If not, I think it should be revived. Maybe I'll start the revival--someday. :)

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