Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beauty and The Beast

Sunday, returning from a visit with my daughter and son-in-law, I made a side trip to the New England Quilt Museum to see their broderie perse exhibit entitled "An Elegant Revival" which runs through October 17th. The last time I'd been to NEQM was fifteen years ago. Since then the museum outgrew their original space and moved into a larger two-story building on Shattuck St. that houses a museum shop on the first floor as well as classrooms and exhibit space on the second floor.

The exhibit includes 35 contemporary and antique beauties--quilts made with the broderie perse technique, also called cut-out chintz applique. The technique was popular in the late 18th century and continued through the 1840's eventually dying out when the industrial revolution made printed fabrics more available and less costly. Many well-known applique quilt artists were represented. Quilts by Barbara W. Barber, Judy Severson and Bettina Havig's were among those on loan to the museum.

Marjorie Haight Lydecker's quilt, titled "Somewhere In Time" featured magnificent piecing, embroidery, applique and quilting all hand done. Having done crewel embroidery myself many years ago, I was fascinated to learn that this beautiful quilt, which took seven years to complete, was partly inpired by 18th century crewel embroidery bedhangings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Another magnificent quilt in the exhibit is an 1825 Lone Star of Bethlehem attributed to Margaret Young of Stransbury, MD. It too is hand-pieced, appliqued and quilted. Some of the fabrics in the quilt actually date from 1820 but you would never know it to look at them. The colors are still vibrant and dazzling. It is part of the museum's permanent collection.
Well, have I tantalized you into planning a trip to the NEQM? If not, here's an added incentive: From August 12th through the 14th, the historic City of Lowell, Massachusetts (where NEQM is located) will host the Lowell Quilt Festival (a city-wide celebration of quilts) and "Images 2010" the bi-annual Quilt Show of the New England Quilter's Guild. For more information about the museum or show click on the following link. http://www.nequiltmuseum.org/
The BEAST part of this blog, or as I affectionately sometimes call it, "old ugly" is my very first quilt-- a queen-sized, strip-pieced double Irish chain made from large child-like blocks of green calico and muslin. I no longer like the fabrics or the big blocks but I do feel sentimental about the battle scars on this quilt and the memories, some pleasant some sad, that are evoked whenever I work on it. It's been neglected for a long time, sitting on the counter in my basement sewing room, all together ignored except by Ernie, my cat, who finds a nice safe, warm nest in its folds.
When I lost my job last year and realized that I had time to complete some projects and chores around the house, Old Ugly was one of the first that came to mind. When I pulled it out, it was hard not to notice the 20 plus years of stains from snuggling, handling, accidental spills, finger pricks and the yellow residue from masking tape that wasn't removed soon enough. The quilting stiches on Old Ugly have no bragging rights either but I love that they are not just my stitches. At some point while she was still living at home and while I was working, my dear daughter marked and stitched the borders in her non-conventional running stitch. Sometimes late at night I would find her on the sofa asleep underneath it. We each of us had our turns snuggling under that quilt while reading or watching TV, it did it's job of keeping us warm on winter nights in the cold and drafty living room.
I'm determined that it will get finished this summer of 2010 which will be Old Ugly's 24th birthday! I've found the original binding fabric, which thankfully I didn't purge during one of my obsessive decluttering episodes, and don't ask me why, but for some reason, I've added 104 small quilted shamrock motifs around the edge of the 13 celtic knot designs that I originally quilted in the large squares. I only have eight more shamrocks to go, then I'll check to make sure there are no areas left unquilted, remove the big clumsy basting stitches and apply the binding. And then maybe Old Ugly will have a new name--"Finished."

1 comment:

  1. I loved the OLD UGLY story ;) Did you manage to finish it? I'm nearing the end of hand quilting THAT DAMN QUILT. Need to think up a new name!


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. When you do, you make my day!