Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baltimore Applique Quilt Exhibits

     After spending much of the summer indoors because of the record-breaking heat and humidity here in Annapolis, I think I've come down with a major case of wanderlust! With William out on the west coast for an antique tool event, I decided to go adventuring on my own.

     I set off to visit with my friend Jean Clemens who lives in Williamsburg, VA. We met a few years ago while I was teaching at Applique Academy and she volunteered to be my classroom assistant. What a pair! She's a wizard at organization and kept me on the straight and narrow :) 
    With well over fifty quilts to her credit (among them 3 king-sized), it's no surprise that she's one of the most prolific quilters I know. Whether hand appliqueing or piecing or quilting, her work is just beautiful. She's no stranger to machine work, either. But her hand quilting is most enviable with perfect stitches on top and bottom!
    Here's Jean sharing some of her creations with me. Jim, Jean's sweetheart for 57 years (in a few weeks), kept discovering and delivering more and more quilts for us to fawn over.

    I had the extreme pleasure of meeting some of Jean's lovely quilting friends, "The Glory Bees"! Jane Bergstrahl, Elaine Miller, Lee Wallingford, Barbara Carper, Cindy Garmen Squire and Martha Bjick were there. What a fun and talented group! I was so inspired as they shared their works in progress, finished pieces and mounds of newly acquired fabric! I'm sorry I didn't take more photos this time around but I'm hoping they'll adopt me so I can join them again sometime.
    I did get Lee (on the right) showing her newly completed log cabin quilt arranged in a unique setting which she said was called "Perkiomen" (pronounced Perk-ee-omen). I believe she said it was an older traditional Pennsylvania design.

     Jean, Jim and I made plans to visit the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. There's a new exhibit there featuring some stellar examples of Baltimore Applique Quilts. The good news is that the exhibit will remain until May 11, 2014 so there's lots of time to plan for this not-to-be-missed display.  
    I'm finding that most museums are now encasing their textiles behind a new type of glass which protects them from the harmful effects of light, which is a good thing. However, it's really difficult to get good photos because of the shaded glass and glare from overhead lighting (and off-kilter photographer). If you have a digital camera I suggest you set it on P (Program setting), but you'll still be challenged to get satisfactory images. Apologies aside, here are some photos to whet your appetite for an in-person visit with the collection...

        Here's a closeup of block D5 (bottom right corner).

And, who can resist this red and green beauty...
The quilt has two alternating blocks. Here's one of them...
This spectacular block from another quilt sports spectacular stuffed work and quilting. I was breathless.
     I'm so grateful to be able to experience these amazing exemplars of fine needleart first hand. I could move right into the museum and live there for months ogling every detail over and over.
     In addition to exhibits featuring every type of folk art imagineable, the museum also houses an expansive collection of antique textiles and needleart. Here's a woman's ''pocket'' with decorative surface stitching known as crewel embroidery.

          The following example of whitework is shown against a lighted background to accentuate the multitude of filled and drawn thread stitches. The photo shows only a small portion of the piece which takes up the entire display case.

     If you haven't ever been to the Abby Aldrich Museum, you really need to put it near the top of your bucket list.

    Next up...Bassett Hall...  Rockefeller played a major role in financing and planning for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. John and Abby made Bassett Hall their home for several months each year during the 1930's and 40's. The story of them and their extraordinary vision, appreciation for the arts, their generosity and accomplishments is highlighted in a movie and guided tour at the house. You'll be fascinated! 

     It seemed every square inch of the well-appointed rooms were covered with eclectic mix of modern and folk art (hers), with classic fine art representations (his).
    My eyes locked in on anything stitched or hooked! Here's a beautiful example of a hand hooked rug found in an upstairs hallway...

And, a large primitive piece covering the bedroom floor...
Lovely hand crocheted spreads covered each of the twin beds. They caught my eye because I have a tablecloth made by my grandmother in the exact same design. It must have been all the rage in the 30's!
OK. Time out for lunch! Jean and Jim introduced me to Firehouse Subs. Great food, great service and great prices! I gained five pounds.  
     I said goodbye to my gracious hosts, gased up and was on my way to Wilmington, NC to see my son and daughter-in-law (at least that's what I told them)...but, I really needed a grandbaby fix.
     I got home a week later just in time to pick William up from the airport.
     No rest for the weary! Today we piled into the car and headed for the DAR Museum in Washington DC, about 45 minutes away. Can't seem to get my fill of wandering these days, especially when there are luscious quilts to be enjoyed.
     The DAR exhibit has been up for a while but I had to move quickly now since the exhibit is coming down at the end of this week. It features 8 Baltimore Album Quilts from the DAR collection and rumor has it they won't be displayed again for quite some time (some say ten years...) and I didn't want to miss out.
Among the most recognizable (for me) was the Mary Simon Quilt Top. I know this one well because of Nancy Kern's quilt (see previous post). I was weak in the knees being inches away from this stunning original grande dame. You can see all the pertinent information about it on the Quilt Index web site.

     Another distinctive BAQ is the Mary Mannakee Quilt. I've seen more than a dozen reproductions of this popular and appealing quilt. Visiting with her today in all her glory was indeed a thrill. Here's one of the blocks...

     I could hardly drag myself away. Then I spied the Mary Simon block that I had stitched for the Dear Friends Remembered Quilt now in the Elly Sienkiewicz Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts collection. Here's the orginal block:

And, here's my reproduction block #G4 in the Elly quilt:
     If you're close enough to make a last-minute trip to the DAR this week, definitely do it! If not, don't despair because the museum usually has a number of fine quilts on display at any given time. They just may not include a BAQ in the mix. I'd recommend you call first, just to make sure they're not between exhibits. My first love, of course, is applique and quilting, but the museum has so much else to offer. Their library, for example, is worth the trip on its own merits. And, don't forget to stop by the gift shop for books and patterns and more!
     Well, that's about it for now. I'm sequestered...knee deep in fabric kits, templates, patterns and lesson plans for the Baltimore on the Prairie Applique Conference scheduled to begin on Sept. 12th.
     Thanks for stopping by. Stitch up a storm!
Best, Jeanne
c/ 2012 Jeanne Sullivan   


  1. What a great post! I love Williamsburg, we went there for our kid's Spring Break for many years and they were always in costume. They learned so much about American history by seeing the way people actually lived at the time. I LOVE the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum ~ what a treasure! Thanks for all the beautiful photos.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. Your family must enjoy priceless memories from your visits there. It is truly a remarkable place. A gift that keeps on giving!

  2. I can't wait to get to Williamsburg this fall. I will be sad to see the DAR quilts come down. I am hearing we won't see them again for 10 years AT LEAST! Is there any chance we can get you to share your beautiful reproduction block on the BAS FB page? I am hoping to get members to share their work regularly there.

    1. Allow as much time as you possibly can to enjoy the offerings. You can also call ahead to find out when they will schedule the guide who unlocks the textile drawers...then you can have access to the incredible antique needlework collections stored within for a close up and personal viewing, ask questions, etc. for about an hour!
      Good news about the DAR quilts being on display again beginning this October through next!
      Thanks for the invitation to have you share my applique block on the Baltimore Applique Society FB page. I'd love that!

  3. Pity DAR is taking the BAQs down THIS week - I'll be in DC next week! Agh! Thanks for the post Jeanne. cheers, Mara

    1. Hi Mara. See my updated DAR post for details about what's going on... You won't get to see them this visit, but surely on the next. They'll be accessible again beginning in October and through to October 2013 (so I'm told)!

  4. Another post full of eye candy. Thanks for all the photos.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed them. I'll bring my laptop to Baltimore on the Prairie and we can watch the whole slideshow together!

  5. Thank you so much for such beautiful pictures with close-ups.
    I noticed on many of the blocks one could see black ink lines added to leaves,etc.It adds so much to the design.
    What would they have used for ink at that time in history?