Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spring Airs

Early spring of each year is when the flat storage gets unpacked, unfolded, checked to make sure there are no condition changes, and repacked in new acid free materials. Its exhausting! I don't have many quilts, but I do have a hand full and this year the Mary Lower Quaker quilt is out to air for a little while. All her 10'x10' glory is carefully folded and hung up on my wall~ I love this quilt!

 It is another world to be able to study a quilt up close, rather than from 20 feet away behind a rope barrier. From afar, the Lower quilt looks like just another rather hum drum patchwork...but up close, its really fabulous. Within the center of each block, are inked inscriptions to Mary, from Mary~ from her family & friends, each also containing a specific date, from early 1842-1846.
 Of coarse I have a real affinity for early printed cottons, and this quilt is an absolute treasure of them. No two are alike, and in reading the inscriptions, one could speculate on if the fabrics for that certain block were given by that particular person. I have no doubt that Mary stitched the quilt together herself, and that at least, she gave the plain white central blocks to her friends & family to inscribe, as they are all different handwriting.

Some like this block, have little inked pictorial drawings on them~ like one would see in a book form friendship album of the time

  Quite a few blocks with men's names commemorate the making and dedication of the Monument for the Battle of Bunker Hill, one noting that the President came on that day
 This is one of several blocks pen'd by Mary herself~ it reads
 "As my name is now surrounded by the names of many friends, so may our spirits meet in Heaven. Mary M Lower Norristown 1846"
 This is the latest block and probably the last one she pieced before setting them all together.

 A quilt such as this holds a record of her friends and family, and places she visited within a brief window of a few precious years in the early 1840s. There are memorial blocks for her grandparents, deceased siblings and relatives, as well as blocks from friends.  I have to wonder if she knew, when making it, it would serve as such an important family genealogical record. I think she did, and for those of you who quilt, I hope you will always sign and date your work permanently~ either on the front as part of its design,  or on the back in a stitched on label. Sometimes its hard to realize that some thing that we make will outlast us for so many generations ~ but they do! Memories fade....papers get lost....but if your words are scrolled from your own hand, onto your stitching itself, one can rest peacefully that the work of thy hand will never be forgotten or become anonymous

No comments: