After requesting permission, I was able to take photos of many of the quilts on display and would love to share them with you. So, lets take a walk together through the museum!
|Signature quilt top with applique|
Rochester, New York, 1911
At the entry we're greeted with this beautiful applique red and white quilt. The sign indicated it was a gift to the Mingei Museum from Pat L. Nickols in 2012. I did not notice any signatures on the quilt, so am a bit puzzled by it's designation as a signature quilt top rather than a sampler quilt top.
Do you ever wonder what stories these tell? What did each of these blocks represent to the quiltmaker? Some might be easy to identify: a tulip, an oak leaf, a basket, a music lyre, snowflakes. Several blocks have a five-pointed star. Others are more puzzling - is that a cemetery monument in the lower left corner?
Don't you think the center medallion block opens up the quilt and helps your eye see each of the other blocks as individuals?
|Child's quilt - ocean waves variation|
1890's - 1920's
As we walk farther into the museum there is a room dedicated to red and white quilts, all collected by Pat L. Nickols. Though other quilts were simply hung on the walls, this baby quilt had Plexiglas protecting it from curious hands.
We are lucky to have stopped in, because the red and white quilt display was only going to be there one more day and taken down January 10, 2016. The book Red and White Quilts: Infinite Variety, about the popular New York exhibition of quilts in 2011, is on sale in the museum gift shop but the $60 price tag is too steep for me.
|Unique quilt with Redwork Embroidery c.1900s|
|Signature quilt - drunkards path|
Mary C. Downing c. 1896
Our next quilt is Drunkard's Path. Look at that cute prairie-point edging! It appears that several different solid red fabrics were used to make this quilt. Some have held up better than others, with some shredding, and others fading to various degrees. You can see there isn't any quilting through the alternate blocks, and I wonder if this was a summer coverlet.
This quilt is also identified as a signature quilt, though I see no names on it. Are they using the term 'signature' to mean 'significant?' or is there a quilt label on the back that has a signature? So many things yet to learn.
Finally, a quilt not made by 'Anonymous' -- though there are way too many Mary C. Downings listed in US Census records on Ancestry to figure out which one is our quilter without more information.
On to Baskets!
The next two quilts are basket quilts. The first is called Cherry Baskets, and each has an applique handle. How interesting that the blocks are set asymmetrically. Two rows to the left, two rows upright and three rows to the right. If quilts could talk, I would ask why the quilt maker decided to use that arrangement. Today we're so trained to make our quilts symmetrical. I'm sure I would have felt I had to put three rows upright in the center, or more likely, have all the baskets facing the same direction. No such compulsion for quilters of a century ago! This quilt is heavily quilted throughout, with echo quilting inside the basket handles and parallel lines in the alternate blocks.
|Unique quilt- cherry basket variation|
|Unique quilt - grape baskets|
Illinois - c.1890s
The pieced Grape Baskets are also heavily quilted, with feather wreaths in the alternate blocks and feather and cross-hatching on the borders. Don't you love the sawtooth border?
Finally we come to two pinwheel quilts.
|Unique quilt top - pinwheel or flutterwheel|
Flutterwheel, an unquilted top, is actually made up of nine-patch blocks (5 pinwheels and 4 solids) put together with sashing of the same dimension and pinwheel cornerstones. It has so much motion and looks so crisp!
|Unique quilt - pinwheel|
Thanks for joining me on the museum tour. Don't you just want to dig through your stash and find some red and white fabrics to play with? Soooo tempting!
Next time we'll go upstairs and see what quilts await us there!