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Twins and a Few Poppies

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And I found this beaded example by Crystal Behn, A Dine and Carrier artist:

The first Embroiderers’ Guild shot looks like a quilt, so I’m somewhat on topic, but since this is the Hall of Fame blog, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show Marie Webster’s Poppy quilt (The above version was made using Quiltsmart printed interfacing). You’ve all seen it in red, and maybe pink; this is a rather rare colorway from the collection of Suzanne Hardebeck:

Photo: TQHF

Marie’s design has inspired many interpretations.  Here are two that have been exhibited at the Quilters’ Hall of Fame. The one on the left is “Love Returns” by Susie Goodman, and the one on the right is from Bonnie Browning’s lecture at Celebration 2013.

I could tell you that the takeaway here is “Poppies are popular”, but my real intention was to provide a segue to an idea that struck me when I was at the Milwaukee Museum of Art a little while ago: twinning art and quilts. I thought it would be fun to see how many paintings would put me in mind of a TQHF Honoree.

You may be familiar with the story of how TQHF Honoree Jonathan Holstein noted the connection between the work of artists like Josef Albers and Amish quilts, and went on to mount the seminal exhibit of quilts as art at the Whitney Museum fifty years ago. Here are two Albers compositions from Milwaukee, and you can readily see the similarity between them and a log cabin quilt.

The paintings also made me think of the progressive color bands in the American Tapestry (Trip Around the World) kits sold by Heritage Honoree, Mary McElwain.

Ranville, Caro. The American Tapestry. 1995. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=12-8-5855. Accessed: 11/15/21

These were just the first connections I made.  When I turned the corner, I came across another potential pairing, Georgia O’Keefe and Ruby McKim. What different interpretations!  Where O’Keefe is organic in form, piecers have to be more angular. I personally find the painting to be almost sensual, but I also love the orderly arrangement of the quilt.

Next up was a fun artist who was totally unfamiliar to me: Cleveland Brown. I thought at the time that he and Honoree Yvonne Porcella would probably be kindred spirits.  Their work shows a real sense of whimsy and action. Contrast these two treatments with Ruby McKim’s “take” on a circus. (I’ve put them one after another because I couldn’t figure out how to create a three-ring circus and still show detail.)

Cleveland Brown. “George Melly at the Circus.”
Porcella, Yvonne. “Keep Both Feet on the Floor.” Photo: The Alliance for American Quilts.
Ruby Short McKim. “Roly Poly Circus.” Photo from McKim Studios website.

And finally, another Porcella/ painter visual connection can be made with Yvonne’s first quilt, “Takoage”, and an intriguing 3-dimensional piece by Israeli artist Yaakov Agam, “Union II”.   The painting is done in such a way that it changes colorway as you move in front of it. First the quilt, and then a left-center-right view of the painting.

Yvonne Porcella. “Tacoage.” Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The painting also makes me think of Honoree Michael James’ early work.  Here’s one of his quilts in the same colorway as the right view of Agam’s work.

Michael James. “Aletsch.” 1990. National Quilt Museum.

If I count an O’Keefe/ Webster poppy match, I’ve linked six Honorees with paintings (some with multiple connections): Marie Webster, Jonathan Holstein, Mary McElwain, Ruby McKim, Yvonne Porcella and Michael James.  I’ll bet you can think of more.  I invite you to try to try this fun exercise the next time you visit an art gallery or museum, and let me know what you find.

Your quilting friend,

Anna




Easter 2021

I’m writing on Saturday, but you won’t read this until after all the eggs have been found.  I hope you had a happy Easter. And I hope you will enjoy this quick look at some of our Honoree’s Easter quilts.

Since Ruby McKim was last week’s topic, I’ll start with her. Here are the rabbits from the Peter Rabbit quilt; it was first published in 1916 in the Kansas City Star and is now adapted to a panel available on the McKim Studios website.

McKim was noted for the squared-off (quadratic) shape of some of her designs, but she also had softer images like the lambs in her Spring appliqué.  This was part of the Four Seasons series originally published in the 1930s and also available on the McKim Studios website. What do you think of the triangular dandelion?

McKim Studios

I had to look hard to find other Easter animal images by Honorees.  Ruth McDowell has an entire farm series, but her work, although wonderfully realistic, doesn’t say “Easter” to me. I only found one other rabbit, this one by Yvonne Porcella (who usually does those happy, frisky dogs). But she did an Asian-inspired quilt and included a rabbit (from the hare-in-the-moon tradition) on the back of it.

Yvonne Porcella, This is a Long Distance Call; reverse.

The Quilters Hall of Fame has, as part of the collection, a number of objects that are not necessarily connected to our Honorees, but are used for education. Among these is an extensive number of family quilts, historic fabric samples, and quilts made by our great friend, Arnold Savage.  This is one he finished in 2005 from a top constructed in 1934 of tiny Nine Patches that he made as a child while recovering from rheumatic fever. He hand quilted it with Easter eggs and named it “Opus 4 / Recovery Quilt 4 Easter Egg Quilt.” What an odd, but charming image to put in those alternate blocks! I wonder what made him choose that motif; maybe he was working on this at Easter-time.

When I thought about the Easter theme for this blog, the first thing that came to my mind was the Marie Webster French Basket pattern. Even though it’s filled with flowers instead of eggs and chocolate bunnies, it reminds me of an Easter basket. There is a good example of a completed quilt in the Hall of Fame collection, along with a pattern. As you’ll see in the third photo, instructions were sparse; but since this was sold as a stamped kit, maybe that was sufficient.

This design was very popular and appeared in other colorways. A few years ago, Honoree Georgia

Bonesteel designed reproduction fabrics based on Marie’s designs – this panel shows it in pink.

And here’s a French Baskets with a green background—which I like better, even though I’m usually a blue gal.

Indianapolis Museum of Art/Newfields

Webster designed three other basket quilts, Dutch Basket, Magpie Rose, and Pink Dogwood.  Here are some shots of them from our collection.

And she also had a Bunny quilt, with eggs on the ground and in the baskets.

Other Honorees made basket quilts. This is a Ruby McKim Flower Basket quilt in the Hall of Fame Collection. McKim also had a fruit basket design, but again, nothing with eggs (and certainly no Peeps).

Honoree, Anne Orr was famous for her postage stamp designs, and she created at least two basket images in this style.

And a dishware pattern was the inspiration for Grace Snyder’s tour de force, Flower Basket Petit Point. There is a small plate in that pattern in the Hall of Fame Collection.

Of course, Marie Webster and many other pattern creators had lovely Spring flower designs which would be timely to show, but I’ll save those for another time. I want to stay on the Easter theme—unlike the editor here who really stretched the connection. I would not call those motifs “Easter Lily”, even if Honoree Ruth Finley did; it looks more like pomegranate and coxcomb to me.

The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, KY. April 12, 1930.

I’m going to close with a quilt that looks more Autumnal, but which I think really conveys the Easter message.  This quilt was made in 1939 by Mary Gasperik, our 2021 Heritage Honoree who will be inducted in July. In her own words, this quilt is about a woman “trying to bear the trials of poverty inflicted upon her by the depression” who must stop and rest “to gather fresh courage to reach the ‘World of Tomorrow’…. The birds are singing songs of encouragement.  Beyond these mountains lies Recovery.”

Mary Gasperik. Road to Recovery.

And isn’t that an appropriate thought for us this year?  We’ve been through a lot with the pandemic, but we’re on the road to recovery and there’s hope for the future. There’s always hope for a new beginning at Easter-time.

Your quilting friend,

Anna




Marie’s Garden

I had planned to write about Mary Barton who had a birthday last week, but I spent time weeding my  garden, and that put me in mind of Marie’s Garden at the Hall of Fame.  Let me show you a little of what’s blooming here, and then we’ll head to Marion.

When you park in the back lot at the Museum, you wander through what was Marie Webster’s original back yard. Take a pictorial stroll up to the house like this group of visitors did.

Did you notice the brick walk? There’s something special about it: the bricks are impressed with names, quotes, and dedications.

If you or your guild would like to have a brick engraved with their name, the cost is only $100 and the form is on our website: https://quiltershalloffame.net/brick-order-form/ (Also, if you have already purchased a brick, they are now all online in a searchable database: https://quiltershalloffame.net/bricks-in-the-garden/ )

We know Marie was a gardener. It’s said that her first quilt, American Beauty Rose, was inspired by her garden. She later submitted that design for a contest in the Ladies Home Journal magazine and caught the attention of the editor. The editor then requested three more designs from Webster, and she supplied “Iris”, “Snowflake” and “Windblown Tulip”; all were featured in the magazine on Jan. 1, 1911, turning Webster into a “national celebrity.” Here’s a photo of the article, followed by “Iris in Baskets” and “Windblown Tulip”.

“Iris in Baskets” unknown maker, unknown date.
From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame.
Windblown Tulips Pieced, appliqued and quilted by Mollie Belle Vancil Mitchell and friends in Carbondale, IL. From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Back to the garden.

For all the beauty, I’m pretty sure this is not what the yard looked like in Marie’s time. Her style would probably have been simpler and somewhat old-fashioned, leaning more towards bedding plants and perhaps a border. The garden is now maintained by volunteers… thanks to every one of them! And while it is still a lot of work, many hands make the work lighter. But there is still one element of the original: hollyhocks. The seeds from which these plants were grown were found in the basement of the house when The Quilters Hall of Fame took ownership of the house. Are they left over from Marie Webster days?! In the fall we will sells seeds from these plants.

Now let’s take a look at how the garden inspired the famous Webster designs. What’s a garden without at least one rose bush? (Up until last year, I had 40, but it was just too much work, so I cut back to six.)  After that first “American Beauty Rose,”  Marie patterned “Magpie Rose,” “Cherokee Rose,” “Wreath of Roses,” “Cluster of Roses,” and “Wayside Roses.” Here are two of those quilts.

Mounts, Euphemia Medora Anderson. Magpie Rose. c1933. From International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ardis and Robert James Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=60-DC-21A. Accessed: 06/15/2020
Wreath of Roses. (Maker not recorded). 1930’s. From Minnesota Quilters Inc., Minnesota Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=49-7E-15C9. Accessed: 06/15/2020

Daisies are another old-time favorite. An early daisy pattern is recalled today in clumps of daisies from Marie’s Garden.

And here’s a shot of the current dogwood tree along with an original pattern for one dogwood quilt, followed by a Webster dogwood quilt in a different setting. If you would like to see the complete Dogwood pattern, and two others (fascinating to imagine using those old templates), there are links at the end.

Laughlin, Sarah. Pink Dogwood. c1927. From International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ardis and Robert James Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=60-DC-34A. Accessed: 06/15/2020

I imagine any old-fashioned garden would have poppies, and that flower inspired one of Webster’s most iconic quilts.  Here it is in the yellow colorway; it’s also popular in pink and stunning in red.

Marie didn’t just have a quilt design business; she actually made quilts.  Here are some which might have come from her own flowers. Morning Glory, followed by two versions of Morning Glory Wreath. This graceful design first appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal in August 1912, along with five other baby quilts she designed. Marie made this larger version of the pattern for her granddaughter, Katherine Marie, about 1940. From the collection of Katherine Webster Dwight.ned.

“Morning Glory” by unknown maker. From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Here are two more Webster-made quilts based on popular flowers, nasturtiums (I’ve grown them; they’re edible) and pansies (an early-spring pop of color).

Webster, Marie D.. Nasturtium Wreath. 1930. From Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives, The Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey, Inc.. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=4A-7F-C3A. Accessed: 06/15/2020
 Webster, Marie D.. Pansies and Butterflies. 1912. From Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives, The Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey, Inc.. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=4A-7F-C3B. Accessed: 06/15/2020

Of course, there are other popular designs growing in the Webster flower bed: more tulips, sunflowers, baskets of blossoms.

Marie Webster’s designs have a timeless appeal in and of themselves, but her style is not in vogue today—maybe more white than we want, maybe too ordered.  But her flowers still work in present day contexts. A friend of the Hall of Fame collaborated with one of Marie’s granddaughters on this book which adapts the designs to pillows, small quilts and other contemporary uses.

I saw one of the designs at the Museum a few years ago, and it’s a great sampler of Marie’s flowers. The addition of the ticking fabric gives it a fresh, modern look.Image may contain: indoor


Marie Webster Sampler Bouquet Quilt. This quilt utilizes many of Marie’s flower designs, “Sunflower,” “Poppy,” “Gay Garden,” “American Beauty Rose,” “May Tulips” and others. The quilt was made using Quiltsmart printed interfacing. The interfacing is available exclusively in The Quilters Hall of Fame gift shop.

And in Fall, 2017, there was a juried exhibit called Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster’s Quilts with contemporary quilts by Midwestern members of the Studio Art Quilt Associates juxtaposed with Marie’s designs. Here are some photos from that exhibit to show you how the two styles both capture the essence of the flowers.

“Iris in Baskets” designed by Marie Webster and made by Unknown on the left.
“Iridaceous” designed and made by Linda Witte Henke on the right. 
“Morning Glory” designed by Marie Webster and made by Unknown on the left.
“Purple Trumpets of Glory” designed and made by Mary Ann Van Soest in the center. “Morning Glories: A Joy Forever” designed and made by Joanne Alberda on the right.
“Poinsettia Paradox,” by Pamela Burns

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk through Marie’s Garden of quilts. When you’re able, try to visit in person. It even looks good in the winter.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

Suggested links:

“American Beauty” pattern https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/42E3C360-77E5-45E7-ACEE-559504503319

Complete “Dogwood” pattern https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/52FC825B-AA24-4391-BC00-995383132853

“Pink Dogwood” kit https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/2D593DFC-0BB6-46D6-9F70-172460710460




Entrepreneur Marie Webster

This week Deb Geyer teamed up with Matthew White, a fourth grade teacher here in Indiana. We recorded this interview about Marie Webster and her quilt business to reach out to young entrepreneurs. Enjoy!




Marie D. Webster

There are 52 Inductees (one is a married couple) and one Heritage Honoree in The Quilters Hall of Fame. I’m not going to take them in order, but I will start at the beginning. Not the first Inductee, but the first in the house; that’s Marie Daugherty Webster. So many of you already are familiar with Marie Webster and why she deserves to be an inductee, and I won’t give you her full story, but if you haven’t met her, let me introduce you:

Marie Daugherty Webster

 If you want to get to know Marie better, you can read a charming biography co-written by one of her grand-daughters at https://quiltershalloffame.net/marie-webster/

But for today, let’s focus on the business part of Webster’s
life. She made her home, and operated her business in the building that houses
the Hall of Fame Museum. If you travel to Marion, IN, you can see the gracious
entry opening to what was the front parlor, and take the stately staircase up
to the room she used as her office. Imagine raising a family there, maintaining
a position as one of the local social elite, and hopping on the train for a
business trip to Chicago.  

Maybe in some later week I can write about the designer aspect of Webster’s career, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the records of her business ephemera. The Museum usually has a rotating display of some of Marie’s own quilts, her clothing and personal items, but you probably didn’t know that there are many business artifacts in the collection too. Here’s an example of how her patterns were marketed.

This is a 1930’s original multi-fold trade catalog labelled
“Quilts and Spreads”.  It shows nine
Marie Webster patterns in black and white with pricing and colors
available.  The blurb explains how the
kits were shipped, “ Attractively boxed, these Quilts and Spreads are furnished
ready to make, including all materials accurately stamped on a foundation of
best quality white cambric, and the Spreads on a heavy foundation of either
white or unbleached material.” 

You can find other trade items in the Museum’s collection at
https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/1462A6EC-FD09-445C-AFB4-833843745621

https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/E188A91F-06AC-4004-B423-719130381878

https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/8F88F984-7F3C-4D5F-A3E8-282682226921

I’m wondering who in today’s quilt world would compare with Marie Webster?  Fons and Porter immediately come to mind as women who built a sideline into a serious business which is still going strong today.  They are also Hall of Fame inductees, and I’ll write about them another week.  But surely there are some more recent entrepreneurs who would be comparable.  I sometimes wonder whether the internet has changed the way we do business to the extent that, either there is no longer a place for a Webster-style business, or we have so many small businesses that no one stands out. What do you think? I would love to hear who you think could be a current parallel to Marie Webster as a quilt designer and entrepreneur. 

Your Quilting Friend, Anna