Saturday, September 29, 2007

Redwork: A Textile Tradition

While I was at the Museum last Saturday, I spent some time in the exhibit:

Redwork: A Textile Tradition in America

I really enjoyed seeing the pieces and reading the information provided which placed the work into a historical context. For example, the design from this block, from the Mikado Quilt came from the Ladies Home Journal, May 1889.

Detail from Mikado Quilt

The quilt, maker unknown, is thought to be possibly made in Pennsylvania, ca. 1890 contains a variety of Asian-inspired motifs. Japanese-inspired designs became increasingly popular in American after the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition where more than nine million people were reported to have visited the Japanese pavilion.

The Blue Stars Flag Quilt, was made ca 1890. The flag in the center of this top has 41 stars--this was the official flag for only three days, after Montana was admitted to the United States on November 8, 1889. (Washington was admitted on November 11.)

Blue Stars Flag Quilt Top

The stars on the flag are the only blue embroidery on the quilt. I liked that.

ApronThere were a couple other redwork quilts, both made by Michigan quilters in the 20's or 30's. One, called Redwork Quilt, features scenes from Nursery Rhymes. The other, Boy's Quilt, had multi-color embroidery of the kid-themed blocks.

There were also pairs of pillow shams and other examples besides quilts in the exhibit. I liked this ca. 1910 apron--both for the redwork and the filet crochet at the bottom.

There were a couple of examples of redwork quilts created as part of fund-raising efforts. The Ishpeming Fundraising Quilt, 1902-03, contains the names of 400 church members who contributed money to the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Ishpeming, Michigan.

The church is embroidered in the center of the quilt. The rest of the design is made up of an artful arrangement of the signatures.

Detail from Ishpeming Fundraising Quilt Detail from Ishpeming Fundraising Quilt

The other fundraising quilt–for the Ku Klux Klan–was under glass. It also consisted of signatures and images of the KKK. The Museum label explained how textiles are important documents of history.

The materials, construction, design, pictorial imagery, signatures, the oral histories and related ephemera, and even condition of this quilt hold clues that strengthen and expand our understanding of quiltmaking, of Klan activity, and the social and cultural history of a particular community at a particular point in time.

The quilt was controversial. I suppose that's why it came with it's own ring full of Frequently Asked Questions.

FAQ for KKK Fundraising Quilt

You can see all my photos from the exhibit in the Flickr set Redwork Show.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moo U

When I went to the MSU Museum sale last weekend, I parked off campus and walked to the museum, past the Bell Tower.

The Bell Tower at MSU

It's unbelieveable to think that 35 years this fall, I was a 17-year old freshman beginning college there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One Woman's Stash

When I went to the MSU Museum's yardsale-like event on Saturday, I didn't realize that all the fabric on sale came from one woman's stash.

Fabric More Fabric

There were several more tables full of fabric and a couple with quilt blocks, kits and UFO projects. I learned that when the staff went to pick up fabric from someone's estate, they carried out 35 medium size moving boxes of fabric . . . and only saw one quilt.

The Museum was also selling books, magazines and quilts.


The fabric was sold by the pound . . . here's what my eight and a half pound purchase looked like.

Checking out

I confess I went back, bought two more pounds . . . and a couple books.

Farmers Market

Things at the Capitol are tense these days as the politicians attempt to resolve the budget deficit and the government may shutdown entirely next week, but . . .

A couple weeks ago, it was all sunshine and smiles when a Farmers' Market came to the Capitol lawn.

Farmers' Market at the Capitol

Everyone came out at lunchtime to shop.


Along Capitol Avenue

And, as I walked back to work, I saw this sign of the season to come.

Early Signs of Fall

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Art of Music

Last Friday, I went with friends to the opening of the Michigan Quilt Artists Invitational. The theme for quilts this year was The Art of Music. It was fun to see how many different ways the artists interpreted the theme in a 20 inch by 24 inch quilt.

I am a sucker for graphic design, so it's no surprise that I loved Ode to Sousa by Joan Potter Thomas.

Ode to Sousa

. . . and Cindy Mielock's guitar quilt, titled Killing Me Softly.

Killing Me Softly
The photo is skewed–because a pillar in the gallery made it impossible to get a nice square shot–the quilt is not. I love so much about this quilt.

Everyone, including me, also loved the irreverent Night on Bald Mountain, by Janna Rust-Getsin.

Night on Bald Mountain

Modest Mussorgsky, the composer of St. John's Night on Bald Mountain, was also represented in another quilt at the show, Promenade with Mussorgsky, by Barbara Kilbourn.

Promenade with Mussorgsky

Modern composers and their music were also represented. I confess someone else had to tell me the profile on The Art of Rock and Roll by Nancy Brooks-Siebert, belonged to Bob Dylan

The Art of Rock & Roll

. . . but, I immediately identified the imagery in Mary Andrews' quilt, Grateful Dead, Grateful Life.

Grateful Dead, Grateful Life

I could keep going on (and on) about the quilts I liked–for their clever or punny titles, beautiful technique, interesting embellishments. All my photos from the event are in my Flickr set The Art of Music–grab a cuppa and see what you like.

I am a Friend of Kate

I was excited to test Christine's pattern, Kate & Friends. As a little girl, I loved paper dolls and this pattern is just as much fun. Earlier this summer, I'd been reading along on her blog, Winnowings, as Christine developed the pattern and posted women, men and kids as she created them.

It took me too long to get into my sewing room–and even longer to blog about it–but here's my block.

Kate's Friend Sophie
The temptation to make a quilted paper doll version of myself was irresistable. I was surprised to find a batik that was pretty close to my graying blonde hair. I challenged myself to create a block wearing just what I was wearing, modifying the pattern a little to add short sleeves and adjust the length of my pink sweater.

Thanks, Christine, for creating such a fun toy for women who used to be little girls who loved paper dolls.

Invisible Woman

A couple weeks ago, I emailed a piece by Nicole Johnson to a friend. The essay is titled Perspective: The Invisible Woman and the title on my email message was similar.

My friend thougth I was talking about myself and the lack of activity on my blog.

Since the two sleep studies, my life has felt like one step forward toward restful sleep and feeling normal again and . . . two steps back. I struggle to go to work most days (and some days, it's just not possible) and many things have fallen by the wayside, including blogging.

Sometimes, I think that one day, life will return to something like normal and, eventually, I'll be able to catch up on everything. Other times, that feels like a crazy fantasy.

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