Marguerite “The Cat” Ickis

How did you learn to quilt? In my case, no one in my family was a quilter, so I was introduced by a friend. I purchased four block of the month kits from JoAnns and gave it a try.  Then I started reading. I got Harriet Hargrave’s Quilter’s Academy books (freshman and sophomore years only—I was an academy drop out), Ruby Short McKim’s One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns, a number of how-to books and a few coffee table books for inspiration. If I had been born 50 years later, I’d probably have just looked on the internet and found Alex Anderson and Jenny Doan.

But what would I have done if I had been born 50 years earlier? I would have read Marie Webster (Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them), Ruth Finley (Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them), and Marguerite Ickis (The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting. These classics are part of the quilt historian’s essential library, and are still available on eBay and the open market. Today I want to tell you about one of these authors.

If you read the bio on the Hall of Fame website (link below), you’ll see that Marguerite Ickis re-invented herself many times over.  Her way of putting it was that she had nine lives–hence “The Cat”.  We know her from her quilting books, but she’s known for much more. But before I get to that, here are the quilting books.

The “Standard” book is just that, an all-inclusive handbook.  To give you an idea of its scope, here’s what the publishers say about it:

You’ll learn how to plan the quilt, the number of blocks to fit a bed, how to select the pattern to harmonize with the design and color of the room, and how to choose materials. Clear directions explain how to cut, sew, and make applique patterns, patchwork, and strips. An entire chapter on design discusses basic elements, sources, making your own designs, avoiding sewing problems, how to use the rag bag, and much more. The section on patterns gives directions on tracing, seam allowance, and estimating quantity. There is full information on borders, quilting, and tufting, and just about every other aspect of quilt making. Mrs. Ickis shows you over 100 traditional and unusual quilts, including Basket, Tree of Life, Flowers  in a Pot, Traditional Geometric, Friendship, Square and Cross, Saw Tooth, Drunkard’s Path, Flying Geese, Mexican Cross, Pennsylvania Dutch, Crazy Quilts, Yo-yo Quilts, Album Quilts, and dozens of others, including over 40 full-size patterns. You are given other uses for quilting, such as drapes, curtains, upholstery, lunch cloths, purses, cushions, and Italian quilting. Completing the coverage are fascinating chapters on collecting quilts as a hobby; how to make full-size patterns of famous American quilts from pictures, small designs, and museum or collector’s quilts; and a history of quilt making with personal memories.  

All this for under $5.00 at today’s prices! But a word of caution: the directions may not be so simple.  Here’s how to make a Caesar’s Crown block: “Fold block diagonally each way across center and then across to get center creases. Draw in 2 circles. Use compass to draw center block. The tops of the diamonds will come along the fold in the block. Piece design and appliqué to block.” Here’s the block, in case you can’t visualize it from the directions:

Even so, the book is more than worth the cost for this famous quote from an unknown Ohio great-grandmother:

It took me more than 20 years, nearly 25, I reckon, in the evenings after supper when the children were all put to bed.  It scares me sometimes when I look at it.  All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces.  When I was proud of the boys….When the girls annoyed me….And John too….Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I sat there hating him as I pieced the patches together.  So they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.

Wow!  If that doesn’t make quilting into something magical and mystical, I don’t know what would.

With an undergraduate degree in education from Ohio University and a master’s in botany from Columbia, Ickis’ first career/”life” was as a teacher. Before going to Columbia, she was an instructor in recreation at New York University and Dean of the New York Recreation Training School. She then went East to work as the curator of the Botany Department at the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Mass. Agricultural College) in Amherst.

Following that “life,” but related to it, was a career with the Girl Scouts. Beginning with the Paterson (New Jersey) Council in 1923 as a “first class nature specialist”, she went on to direct the acclaimed nature museum at the Council’s summer camp. She spent almost a decade working with the Girl Scouts as a trainer at the national level, and was affiliated with the National Recreation Association as a member and as Assistant Editor of “Recreation” magazine. She was also Dean of the Recreation Training School for the Works Projects Administration (WPA). This was a time when the “Playground Movement” was coming into its own, and Ickis would be glad to know that there is a playground named after her in Massachusetts.

Playground on Cape Cod named after Marguerite Ickis.  See more at link below.

A few of Marguerite Ickis’ “lives” came from difficult circumstances.  When she was around 60, she began losing her sight to cataracts. Rather than retire, she did two things: she started painting and she opened a restaurant.

The restaurant was located in the town of Dennis on Cape Cod.  She poked fun at herself in this “life” saying that even though she had no restaurant experience, she could see enough to measure three cups of flour and one cup of lard for a pie crust. She ran the restaurant for fourteen years, and “The Pheasant” is still at the original location, serving freshly-caught seafood and other food cooked on an open wood fire. This new popular restaurant is a far cry from where Ickis started her foodie career. As she explained, “My building had been a storehouse for clipper ships on the Dennis shore and had been moved to Main Street. There was a stall in it which housed a horse and it certainly smelled terribly. We used grills. I had no screens. And do you know the Rockfellers, Fleischmans and others of that ilk came often and loved it.” (“Dennis Author-Painter Still Lives Valiantly,” Women’s World, 1978). I’m including photos of the new restaurant—because I miss going out to eat in pandemic times, and this makes my mouth water. See the link below for their Facebook page; if you are in the area, they have take-away these days.

Ickis also took up painting.  She said she wanted to stop chain smoking and using a paint brush gave her something to do with her hands. Her paintings have been likened to Grandma Moses, but she thought they were less stick-like.  In fact, she tried to make them homey and personal.  One painting is a reminder of the shopping trips with her mother and sister at Stone and Thomas in Ohio to buy new hats—one every year for Easter and another for the county fair.  Another is based on people from her childhood town: the butcher and his wife, the man with the ear trumpet, the woman who nursed her baby “right in church”.

Marquerite Ickis’ painting of a quilting bee.

You can see more of Ickis’ paintings in “The Ickis Room” of the Dennis Senior Center, Dennis MA—if we ever get to travel again.

Ickis had a well-established “life” as a writer. In addition to her quilting books, she had several titles related to crafts, hobbies and the “Playground Movement”. Among these are Nature in Recreation, Pastimes for the Patient, The Book of Games and Entertainment the World Over,Weaving as a Hobby, The Book of Arts and Crafts, Folk Arts and Crafts, and Handicrafts and Hobbies for Pleasure and Profit. Garnering the most hits on Newspapers.com are articles about Ickis’ holiday books.  Between 1965 and 2000, journalists all over the country relied on her for filler in their feature stories whenever a holiday came around. In October, Ickis was cited as attributing Jack-o-lanterns to the Irish; in the Spring she was quoted on the origin of Easter egg hunts.  And at Christmas time, the papers trotted out her craft ideas for holiday decorations. Here are the holiday books:

I want to close by coming full circle in Marguerite Ickis’ nine lives, and end with her life as a quilter.  This was probably her first “life”; she learned to quilt at a young age in Ohio.  She was taught to quilt by her mother and Quaker grandmother and she helped batt quilts with wool produced on the family sheep farm. The Quilters Hall of Fame is very lucky to have an Ickis quilt; this one was made with scraps of costumes from WPA theater productions. (Thanks for the donation, Holice Turnbow!) There’s a link below for more information about the quilt.

Marguerite Ickis. Fan Medallion c. 1940

Well, that’s the many “lives” of Honoree Marguerite Ickis. I think I would have enjoyed knowing her; she had a sense of humor and self-deprecation as well as a determination to make the most of the hand she was dealt. Worthy traits to emulate.

Your quilting friend,


Hall of Fame bio https://quiltershalloffame.net/marguerite-ickis/

Ickis Playground https://capecodplaygrounds.blogspot.com/2015/05/johnny-kelley-park-dennis.html

Restaurant. https://www.facebook.com/thepheasantcapecod/

Fan Medallion quilt https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/342CC602-9798-4B42-AA73-866582057530

Grace Snyder: Making Quilts and Making Dreams Come True

Idle hands may be the Devil’s workshop, but Grace Snyder must have put him out of business.  The story of her life is told in an autobiography written with her daughter titled No Time on My Hands.  One reason she had no time was that she made over 300 quilts including one containing over 87,000 pieces! But Grace wasn’t busy all the time; she was a dreamer too. As a child she “… wished that (she) might grow up to make the most beautiful quilts in the world, to marry a cowboy, and to look down on the top of a cloud.”  If you count air travel for looking down on a cloud, her dreams all came true.  How many of us can say that?

At first glance, Grace Snyder’s life is unremarkable: the daughter of 1880s Nebraska homesteaders, she married a Nebraska rancher/cowboy (Bert), did some teaching, and raised four children. But she also made quite a few  remarkable quilts, and that’s what we’ll look at today. You can learn more about her story in the bio information on the Hall of Fame website and the Nebraska Quilters site (links below); the latter is an especially thorough presentation for a reason I’ll tell you about later. 

Let me start with some of Grace’s not-so-remarkable quilts—and when I say “not so remarkable”, it’s only in comparison with her others.  From her earliest days, Grace was taught to make small neat stitches, and every Snyder quilt displays her fantastic workmanship.  But some of her quilts are show-stopping designs and others are more personal.  These are the personal ones—the ones that reveal something significant to the maker. (You won’t be able to zoom in on these images, but you’ll find them in the expanded bio link and can view close ups there if you want.)

This one is a nice scrappy setting to showcase her husband’s love of fishing.  Grace, Bert and two of their daughters lived in Oregon for a while, and she quilted while he fished.  My husband is a sailor, and I made Storm at Sea and Lady of the Lake quilts. I also have a large sub-stash of nautical fabrics which I have barely diminished by making masks, aprons, and table runners. I can relate to tying your hobby to Hubby’s interest.
This quilt was from an Omaha World Herald pattern, but Grace personalized it by making the cowboy look like her husband and adding his nickname, “Pinnacle Jake”.

This quilt was made with fabric from one of Grace’s favorite childhood dresses. Not an unusual story, but here’s the Snyder twist: the dress was torn as she ducked through a barbed wire fence to escape a charging bull. 

Not every Grace Snyder quilt tells such personal stories.  Here are some that tell us the quilter could be conventional. I wish I could give you better shots of the quilting; I’ve put links below to their home sites where you can at least zoom in.

The Lincoln Quilt, International Quilt Museum

Snyder, Grace. Grape and Vine Applique. 1951. From University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska Quilt Project (Lincoln Quilters Guild). Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=57-90-6E2. Accessed: 09/12/2020

Snyder, Grace. McGills Cherries; Applique. 1945. From University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska Quilt Project (Lincoln Quilters Guild). Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=57-90-6E1. Accessed: 09/12/2020

Remember I mentioned show-stoppers? I think these last three would qualify, but (wait) there’s more.  Grace won quite a few ribbons in her day, having made 24 quilts expressly for exhibition or competition. In addition to honors at county and state fairs, in 1950 four of Grace’s quilts were displayed at the Women’s International Exhibition in New York City. “Covered Wagon States” won a special ribbon in the International Division, and “Grape and Vine Applique” won a blue ribbon for its fine applique work. Her “Flower Basket Petit Point” and “The Bird of Paradise” were placed in a special division since there was nothing else like them at the exhibition. And there’s still more: Grace also has two quilts that were included among the 100 chosen for publication in The Twentieth Century’s Best American Quilts, and here they are:

This is a mosaic in the style of Albert Small (who made three hexagon quilts, the last one having pieces only 3/8 inch!).  Grace probably saw the design in a 1939s magazine, and she made up her own color scheme from a black and white photo included with the article.

Nebraska State Historical Society

Before it was one of the 100 Best, this quilt was the Sweepstakes winner at the 1944 Nebraska State Fair and earned Grace a prize of $2.50. You can’t really appreciate how detailed it is without seeing the video in the extended bio (link below.) The video starts off with some great close-up shots so you can see how she used half square triangles to create the look of needlework. Really, follow that link and play at least the first minute of the video. Wowza!

The State of Nebraska is justly proud of Grace Snyder, and Nebraskans make sure her legacy lives on. Her autobiography has been re-interpreted as a book for young readers, Pioneer Girl, which teachers throughout the state use in the required State History course.  The University of Nebraska has also developed study aids to keep Grace’s story alive because it’s the story of the state itself, a real life Prairie life. And of course there’s the presentation available at the extended bio link below. What other state has memorialized one of its quilters in this way?

That got me to thinking about who the famous or most-recognized quilters are in each state  I live in Illinois, and we have Bertha Stenge (I promise to write about her soon) and next year Mary Gasperik will be inducted.  Indiana has Marie Webster; California claims Yvonne Porcella and Jean Ray Laury; Nancy Crow put Ohio on the art quilting map. So, who is your state’s best or most notable quilter—current or historical? Is there one for every state? Is she or he in the Quilter’s Hall of Fame, or will you be making a nomination so your state won’t be left out?  If Grace Snyder’s story tells us anything, it’s that someone can be living a quotidian life, all the while making quilts and making her dreams come true. So, look around for people like her, and look at yourself to see if your dreams are coming true.

Bio information https://quiltershalloffame.net/grace-snyder/

Expanded bio http://nequilters.org/node/8

The Lincoln Quilt https://www.internationalquiltmuseum.org/quilt/20090320001

Grape and Vine Applique http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=57-90-6E2

McGill’s Cherries http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=57-90-6E1

Mary Gasperik is named as Heritage Honoree for 2021

Hooray! Hooray! Yippee! Hooray!  It’s a good thing I’m writing rather than talking because I’d be tripping over my tongue with excitement. I have big news.

A few months ago, I told you about the process for nominating someone to be selected as a Quilters Hall of Fame Honoree. Well, I went through that process last year, nominating Mary Gasperik to be a Heritage Honoree—the category for a person who is deceased or was active in the quilt world at least 80 years ago.  And now the word is out that Mary was chosen and will be inducted in 2021. I couldn’t be more thrilled, but I’ll try to contain myself and tell you about my journey with Mary Gasperik. It all started when I went to the American Quilt Study Group 2012 Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I had just retired, and was checking things off my bucket list, including a visit to the International Quilt Museum.  I didn’t dream that rather than being a “one and done” trip, this jaunt would open up a whole world of quilt study and travels for me.  I didn’t know anyone there, but everyone welcomed me and treated me with a level of collegiality that I had no reason to expect. One day, I was standing next to Merikay Waldvogel (Hall of Fame Honoree, scholar, and nationally-known expert on the quilts of the Chicago World’s Fair) and she asked what I was studying—as if, naturally, I would have an area of expertise.  I told her that, being from Chicago, I would have been interested in researching the 1933 Sears quilt contest at the Fair, but that she had already covered that ground. Without missing a beat, Merikay assured me that there was plenty more to look into, especially some of the individual quilters. When I came home from Lincoln, I took a look at Merikay’s book and learned that there were Park District-sponsored quilting clubs in 1930s Chicago, and that Mary Gasperik was active in one of them. Here’s a photo of Mary (on the left in the back row) in front of her Laurel Wreath quilt with some of the other ladies of the Tuley Park Quilters.

Something hit a familiar chord when I saw that picture: not only did Mary remind me of one of my favorite aunts, she was also—like me—a South Side girl. Anyone familiar with Chicago knows about the rivalry between the North Side and the South Side. The Cubs and Sox slug it out in their crosstown classic mini-series every year (except this year, with COVID-19), and there are other bones of contention which I’ll tell you about when I write up Bertha Stenge, a Hall of Fame Honoree from the North Side.  Anyway, I decided that Mary Gasperik and I were sympatico. I started learning about Mary indirectly when I prepared a presentation on Alice Beyer who, in her capacity as an “Artcraft” supervisor for the Park District, worked with the Tuley Park Quilters to publish a quilting handbook in 1934. Here’s the cover of the book, with a sample page and the quilt Mary Gasperik made from that pattern. 

And, so you’ll get a preview of Mary’s work and start to know why she was chosen as an Honoree, here’s a close up shot of the quilting:

I’m pretty sure this quilt will be at Celebration next year, and you won’t want to miss seeing it in the cloth. And there are some great stories to go with it, but I won’t spoil that for you now.

One of Mary’s granddaughters, Susan Salser, helped me with the Alice Beyer lecture by filling in lots of information about the Tuley Park Quilters, and this naturally included Mary Gasperik.  Susan is a scholar in her own right: she has researched, from microfiche if you can imagine, hundreds of articles about the Detroit News Quilt Club Corner to learn about her grandmother’s participation in the “club”; she has scoured design records to find the sources of images that appear on the quilts; she’s been a keeper of family records related to Mary’s quilting.  And the crown jewel of Susan’s efforts is the fact that every known Gasperik quilt has been documented, in detail and with the help of Merikay Waldvogel, on the Quilt Index.

Well, the more I talked with Susan, the more I thought that Mary Gasperik should be in the Hall of Fame. Her quilts are many and varied, ranging from whimsical to elegant; her workmanship is superb; she even has a quilt on display at the Smithsonian. Her story is worth recognizing: as a Hungarian immigrant with little command of the English language, she assimilated through quilting in the Park District and membership in the Detroit club which required bus trips to participate in their shows. Unlike several other Honorees who had a formal art background, Mary used her untrained eye to adapt published patterns and to create her own original masterpieces. Mary wasn’t a society lady, but she was like so many unsung quilters of her era who just plain enjoyed quilting.

So, let me tell you about the nomination process. Mary Gasperik’s nomination was made in the name of the Northern Illinois Quilt Study Group, my local quilt study group. I had given a Power Point presentation about Mary to the group, and we were lucky to have two other granddaughters bring us some of Mary’s quilts to examine.  These granddaughters also brought family scrapbooks, appliqued clothing made by Mary, and other ephemera. The study group had a great time, and everyone was so impressed that they readily adopted my suggestion to nominate.

There’s a form for the nomination on the website, but it’s really bare bones.  The first part is writing about why the nominee is deserving. Once I had lined up the reasons above, I just had to put down my thoughts. Writing is easy for me, but if you are thinking about submitting a name, don’t let writer’s block worry you; what’s important is the nominee’s merit, not the nominator’s writing talent.

Then you need to gather up a record of supporting evidence—in the case of a quilter, it’s her quilts.  Here’s where I chose well: with all of Gasperik’s work on the Quilt Index, I could get pictures and information all in one place. If you’re going to nominate a contemporary quilter, you might be lucky and find their work on their website or elsewhere on the internet.

The last part is getting references, and this is where I had some nice experiences, rubbing elbows with the big wigs. Shelly Zegart, producer of the series “Why Quilts Matter”, had referenced Mary Gasperik in several episodes, and she was able to use those points again to boost Mary’s nomination.  Merikay Waldvogel graciously contributed by placing Mary Gasperik in the context of the 1930s milieu.  And Marsha McDowell wrote a nice letter about the significance of having the Gasperik collection online at the Quilt Index, and of recording family legacies in general. Susan Salser added to the backup with a reference from the woman who had coordinated a museum exhibit of Gasperik quilts, and quilt historian Karen Alexander also gave a reference.

If you’ve ever thought “So-and-So should be in the Hall of Fame” or asked why a certain prominent quilting personality hasn’t been named, the answer may be that no one has made a nomination of that person yet. The Hall of Fame relies on you to bring a name forward—you can do this. I’m here to tell you that submitting a nomination is a little like herding cats, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll learn a lot, meet some interesting people, and (almost as an aside) maybe your efforts will pay off with a selection, and you can come to Celebration to see your nominee honored. 

I know where I’ll be in July 2021 (pandemic permitting), and I hope I see you there—in Marion, welcoming Mary Gasperik into the Quilters Hall of Fame.

Your quilting friend,


Link to the Nomination form on The Quilters Hall of Fame website: https://quiltershalloffame.net/honoree-nomination/

Jonathan Holstein: Quilts From the Bed to the Wall

My first blog entry was about Gail van der Hoof, who is known as one of the forces behind the ground-breaking quilt exhibit at the Whitney Museum in 1971. Now it’s time to tell you about the other half of that partnership, Jonathan Holstein. As a refresher, the exhibit they mounted, Abstract Design in American Quilts, at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, is credited with taking quilts from the bed to the wall as a form of art to be appreciated not for warmth but for artistic qualities such as form, color and design. You can read a fleshed-out version of the Holstein/van der Hoof collecting and exhibit story, along with more info about his life at the bio link below.

Today, I want to go to a museum—at least in my mind—and think about art. Having repeated the conventional view of the Whitney exhibit, I wonder how accurate it is. Haven’t there always been quilters who saw their work as art? Remember last week when we talked about Rose Kretsinger’s designs? Surely, she was applying the principles of form and design that she learned at the Art Institute of Chicago. As did Bertha Stenge, another Hall of Fame Honoree who studied at the San Francisco School of Art. Take a look at the center of one of Stenge’s quilts, Gazelle, and see if you don’t recognize the Art Deco elements. Or The Spectrum, which was another quilt artist’s entry to the 1933 Sears contest at the Chicago Worlds Fair, which certainly shows color, form and line.

Stenge, Bertha. Gazelle. Circa 1933
International Quilt Museum
Author’s photo
Matthews, Edith Morrow. The Spectrum. 1933.
From Waldvogel Archival Collection, Sears Quilt Contest 1933
Chicago World’s Fair. Published in The Quilt Index,
http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=5B-9D-C. Accessed:

I would say that the artistic element could always be found in at least some quilts, but it took a Jonathan Holstein to make the art world –and not just the quilting world–aware of it.  So, what was special about the Whitney exhibit that makes us say (properly) that it was the beginning of quilts being seen as art? For a scholarly analysis, I read Karin Elizabeth Peterson, cited below.  Peterson makes the interesting  point that it’s the whole museum experience that transformed quilts into art. First, it’s the venue in  which the quilts are displayed. She says, “Museums can be understood as places where quasi-sacred rituals take place. Rituals that define legitimate objects, legitimate artists and legitimate viewers…. Museum space facilitates an art-for-art’s sake experience by employing a series of architectural and display cues: isolated rooms, small labels, white walls, spotlighted pedestals, space to stand back from works and grasp their effect…. The museum, which is structured to appear neutral, objective and disinterested, privileges a special way of viewing objects within its walls.”

The other aspect Peterson notes is Holstein’s discourse about the quilts. For example, when he “pitched” the exhibit to the Whitney staff, he presented slides of the works, just as he would have done with his photographs. In titling the exhibit, he carefully chose wording that would make a connection to the world of abstract art.  And when he wrote the catalog and promotional materials, he was careful to write about quilts as he would any other work of art: not focusing on workmanship, but using phrases like “sensibilities and visual skills of the artist”, “laying on colors and textures”, “a traditional American approach to design, vigorous, simple, reductive”. (1971 Exhibit catalog)

So, here’s the takeaway: Art is seen at the art museum, not the local school gym.  And if you’re going to call it art, you have to use art jargon.  Sounds simplistic and a bit cynical, but that’s just what Jonathan Holstein did, and he was successful with it. The quilt world hasn’t been the same since.  

There were other “art” exhibits after the Whitney: in 1972, American Pieced Quilts, opened at the Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. (this exhibit traveled to twenty-one American museums and two English venues under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES); in 1975, there was an exhibition for the Shiseido Corporation in Tokyo and the American Cultural Center Kyoto, the first show of American quilts in Japan; the following year, another exhibit was mounted at the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art.; and in 1980, Amish Quilts, from Pennsylvania and the Midwest, was seen in ten museums in the United States. 

Holstein is also the author or co-author of several books, all of which are in the Quilters Hall of Fame collection and available for purchase on the open market.

In 2003, the entire Holstein/ van der Hoof collection of quilts and ephemera was donated to the International Quilt Museum in Nebraska.  It was then valued at around $2.2 million—not bad for collectors who had initially set themselves a $36.00 limit when buying a quilt. There’s a link below to a charming video of Holstein reminiscing about the first Amish quilt he purchased—for $5.75! There’s also a link that will give you access to all of the quilts now in the IQM, but I’ve put in a few here as a teaser.

There are a number of crazy quilts in
the Collection, and this goes in the
same era. Holstein probably chose
this for its off-center focus.
This one appealed to me from the hundred or so Amish quilts in
Collection because of the almost vibrating green next to purple
and the triangles surrounding the center diamond.
Not art at all! What’s it doing in the Collection?
Pictorial images don’t fit with abstract art.
And what could have made Holstein choose this
one? I like the limited palette, but samplers
aren’t typical of the Collection.

These two are graphic, and I think I can recognize what must have drawn Holstein to them.

OK.  You’ve seen my choices. When you have time, take yourself to the International Quilt Museum and pick out your own favorites from the Collection. Let me know what you find, and what strikes your fancy; leave a comment at the end of the blog.  And if you have lots of time, you might also enjoy hearing Jonathan Holstein walk you through an exhibit that was shown at the IQM called “Quilts in Common”. (link below) There are a few quilts from his Collection, but the exhibit format was comparing pairs of related quilts.  Holstein’s artist’s eye, which first got quilts on the Whitney walls, is well worth looking through as he talks about these quilts. And he shares some stories and photos which are a funky and fun view of his early buying days.

After I’ve written something like this, I find myself thinking “What if??” and recognizing how much I don’t know.  What if I had studied design or trained to be a museum curator? What if I had chosen, as Jonathan Holstein did, to center my professional life around quilts? Well, I didn’t, so I can just be grateful that Holstein was on the scene when he was, and that he continues to be active in the quilt/art world today.

Your quilting friend,


Biographical info https://quiltershalloffame.net/jonathan-holstein/

Karin Elizabeth Peterson, “Discourse and Display: The Modern Eye, Entrepreneurship, and the Cultural Transformation of the Patchwork Quilt,” Sociological Perspectives. Vol 46, Number 4, 2003

First Amish quilt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8vD8UhoBBM

Holstein quilts at International Quilt Museum https://www.internationalquiltmuseum.org/collections/search?title=&field_quilt_primary_pattern_tid=All&field_quiltmaker_value=&field_quilt_geo_origin_country_tid=All&field_quilt_geo_origin_state_reg_tid=All&field_quilt_predominant_techniqu_tid=All&field_quilt_object__value=&field_quilt_collection_tid=8024&field_quilt_date_range=&field_cultural_group_tid=All&combine=

Quilts in Common lecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUs5m7AqvOY

Change of Day…

Anna’s posts will now be posted on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays. That’s tomorrow! We appreciate your patience!

Happy Quilting!

Deb Geyer