2005 Honoree Bets Ramsey has had a life-long love of the arts and needle crafts. The summer after her graduation from high school, she and a friend set up a dressmaking business in her parents’ dining room. After earning her B.A. with honors in Art, Bets focused on her marriage and raising her four children. In 1970, Bets Ramsey decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in crafts from the University of Tennessee. She selected quilt making from a list of research topics, never imagining where it would lead her. She studied all the quilt books in the library. As she interviewed relatives about he grandmother’s quilts, the past and the grandmother she had never known became very real. This was the beginning of a new career path, and she has followed it ever since: making quilts and wall hangings; writing, teaching, and lecturing about quilts; and curating quilt exhibits. In 1994, Bets decided to make her own artwork her priority. “Finally, I could see myself as an artist,” she says. “I began to understand that in the past I had refused to claim the title and take the responsibility for living it. Now I know that I am an artist and this is my work. I will continue to curate exhibitions, to write articles, and give lectures because that is what I do, but my studio work comes first.” Bets’ work is characterized by low key yet animated colors and patterns and careful attention to technique, reflecting both her formal training in design and her love of art. Many of her pieces are pieced of historic textiles, adding to the uniqueness and stories of the pieces. We will have some of Bets’ pieces on display at The Quilters Hall of Fame February 22 – May 7, 2022. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. We’d love to have you stop in to see them.
Ireland Postcard Quilt
By Helen Kelley, 1999
Honoree Helen Kelley made a series of “postcard quilts” showing places that she had visited. Helen’s label card that came with this quilt says, “Ireland- The streets of Dublin are lined with Georgian homes, each with its bright colored door and brass knocker. The basement kitchen area at the front of each home is fenced with ornamental iron. You can seethe park across the street, that private outdoor green space that gives relief in an area where buildings come down to the edge of the sidewalk. At the top, quilted smoke curls from the chimney pots.”
This quilt uses a variety of fabrics to allude to the textures without actually representing them. Exceptions are a brick patterned fabric used as surrounds for the doors and foliage patterned fabrics used for the trees. The arches over the doors are pieced of a dozen different pieces of fabric to achieve the arch. Windows use a blue and white shaded fabric that gives an impression of reflection. Steps are made of several different shades and patterns of grey fabric. Fences are created by enhancing checks or striped prints with black stitching and French knots. Panels of the doors are defined in outline stitch in colors matching the color of the door. Black hand rails, door knockers, door knobs and letter slots are embroidered and the sidewalk in front of the park has brown linear embroidery. A narrow pale green inner border defines the scene. The date “1999” is quilted near the proper left lower corner. The quilt is machine pieced and hand appliqued and embroidered. The hand quilting in a variety of patterns outlined for architectural elements, curve-linear for foliage, lines and rectangles for sidewalk, cross-hatch diamonds for the roof and clam shell for the sidewalk and roads. The quilting is in white thread at about eight stitches per inch.
The white muslin back is designed like a postcard. Hand embroidered in dark blue chain stitch in the address position is one line: “Sure, it’s a little bit of heaven!”. The stamp cancellation is the name, date and number of the quilt in a circle: “Dublin Nov 1984 XIII”. This is done in dark gray stem stitch. The stamp is an appliqued green shamrock with a green border inside a diagonally striped added border and dark gray cancellation lines in stem stitch across the stamp.
The Quilters Hall of Fame is currently working on a virtual tour of the Marie Webster House featuring quilts from the collection. This quilt will be included in the virtual tour, soon to be posted!
Fan Medallion Quilt
By Marguerite Ickis, c. 1930-1940.
Honoree Marguerite Ickis made this quilt from pieces of costume fabric leftover from theatrical plays made possible by the WPA Federal Theatre Project, for whom she was a consultant. The Federal Theatre Project organized and produced theater events. It was an effort of the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide work for unemployed professionals in the theater during the Great Depression.
The quilt has a black satin background with fan blades made of various shades of red, yellow, blue, magenta, purple and pink, in satin, velvet and crepes. All fabrics are solids, no prints. The batting is a very thin sheet cotton. The quilt is pieced, appliqued and quilted by hand and has a straight grain binding of black satin attached by machine and sewn down by hand. The features, color scheme, and arrangement give the quilt an “Art Deco” flair.
For the quilting, there are feathered wreaths in large plain areas. Each fan blade has one line of quilting running through the center lengthwise. One row of stitching follows the shape of applique. On the triangular ground opposite the fans there are eight petal floral motifs. Heavily feathered vines fill the sashing.
Marguerite Ickis was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in 1979. She loved to tell people, “I’ve led nine lives, and I’ve loved every one of them.” She was a botanist, worked for the Girl Scouts, was an editor, a dean, writer, quilter, researcher, an innkeeper, and upon retirement a painter.
The Quilters Hall of Fame is currently working on a virtual tour of the Marie Webster House featuring quilts from the collection. This quilt will be included in the virtual tour, soon to be posted!
I’m not ready to get back to work writing about the Honorees. I’ve been lucky enough (finally, after COVID lockdown) to have gone on some quilting vacations, and that has disrupted my focus. But since my trips were quilt-related, it should “count” if I share some of my takeaways.
My husband, Jack, and I stopped on our way elsewhere at the Milwaukee Museum of Art to see the current exhibit of quilts by Wisconsin native Pauline Parker. The Museum building itself is noteworthy—a marvel of modern “sculpture” designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Maybe it’s the siting on the shore of Lake Michigan, but the structure reminds me of a cruise ship, and the unique Burke Brise Soleil (a moveable sunscreen) makes me think of a giant sail. The Windover Hall entry space would be cavernous but for all the glass.
But this is about quilts, so let me show you some. There’s a link below (for later) to a wonderful virtual tour with commentary, but I’ll give you my thoughts now. First, you should know that Pauline Parker trained as a painter at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her quilting story is remarkable for her “journey”. Some quilters, myself included, find a style they like/ are competent at/ feel comfortable with, and stick to it with only minor forays off the track followed by a quick retreat to “normal”. Parker didn’t let herself get stuck; I think that “normal” for her was always something that wasn’t ordinary. She started quilting in traditional piecing style, but even in the early days, she had a whimsical eye. This simple quilt is a take-off on feedsacks: it’s composed of appliqued bacon bags. I never knew that bacon came in bags!
Parker progressed from traditionally pieced and appliquéd quilts into pictorial work, starting with a scene from a favorite vacation spot in Maine.
Then, she went back and took inspiration from her Art Institute days, interpreting her watercolors of foreign cities as quilts. The painting and the quilt pairs were displayed together, making for a thought-provoking comparison. (Why are some figures more accurately presented than others? Why didn’t she use more color in the sky in the quilt? Why did she alter the scale of the trees?)
Parker also tried her hand at political commentary quilts with this one depicting Anita Hill’s testimony at the Clarence Thomas confirmation (US Supreme Court) hearings. The artist’s statement says that the Committee wears blue suits because that showed up well on the TV cameras, and that the side pieces represent the women of the world who would be affected by the Committee’s decision. But what do the shoes and boots at the bottom mean? (Answer is in the virtual tour.)
I think the quilts I liked best were from her nature-scenes period. They were very calming and accessible to my unimaginative mind. You will see all of these relaxing quilts in the virtual tour, but here’s just one for now.
“Birches” is a good quilt to show the shift to Parker’s final phase of quilting. In it, she purposely left the edges of the tree trunks frayed to mimic peeling birch bark, and she used reverse appliqué to create rabbit tracks in the snow. This was the beginning (if not temporally, at least in my mind) of her work with what I would call fabric manipulation.
Parker experimented with folding fabric to create the impression of an eyelid; she ruched to make “embroidery” on a dress. She wasn’t content with cotton prints or solids and regularly sought out poorly registered prints to use in simulating folds, and she worked with brocades, lace and hard-to-sew taffetas. Here’s a quilt that must have required several trips to the thrift shop for material. I’m surprised by all the dark colors, but maybe that’s just Parker’s selection; green seems very popular.
I can’t think of many other quilters whose work show so much diversity as Pauline Parker. I’m so glad that Jack and I took this little side trip. If you are able to go in person, the exhibit runs through December 5th; if you can’t make it to Milwaukee, take the virtual tour below.
And here’s a teaser for next time: I got an inspiration as we left the Museum, and it relates to the Honorees. Stay tuned.
Yes, You Can Say the ‘A’ Word, if You Appliqué with Mimi
When I first started quilting, my guild buddies talked me into taking a workshop to learn how to appliqué. Even though I was–and still am—drawn more to geometric rather than organic shapes, they suggested that I should have this skill in my wheelhouse. Having heard other piecers refer to appliqué as the ‘A’ word”, I wasn’t convinced. When I resisted, they brought out their ultimate argument, “You never know when you’ll need to slap something on to cover up a poorly joined seam”.
I signed up, needle-turned a leaf and stem, made a charming ruched flower, and never finished the project. In fact, I just recently tossed it out in the Great Covid Cleanup. But over the years, I have come to terms with appliqué, and even enjoy it in small doses. Here’s my largest hand appliqué project. I’ve also just finished two tops with appliqué or broderie perse borders, and if I remember, I’ll show you photos when they come back from the quilter.
So, not too shabby for someone who was dragged kicking and screaming into appliqué, but I wonder what my attitude would have been if I had known Mimi Dietrich in my quilting salad days? Well, it’s never too late to find out. Mimi Dietrich, the Pride of Baltimore (quilting, not the ship), will be teaching in The Quilters Hall of Fame Virtual Celebration which starts this week. But let me tell you about her before I give you info on the class.
Mimi is a Baltimore native and graduate of the University of Maryland. It’s no wonder she specializes in Baltimore Album quilts. She is the author of numerous books, including “Baltimore Basics: Album Quilts From Start to Finish,” “Baltimore Blocks for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide” and “Baltimore Bouquets: Patterns and Techniques for Dimensional Appliqué” . She has taught for Craftsy and for University of Maryland and was named Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals. Here’s the little quilt she donated to the Hall of Fame when she was inducted:
Earlier this year, Mimi was featured in the Hometown Girl exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society with quilts made by her and her students. It’s over now, but here are two of her quilts that were on view, a classic applique and a quirky conglomeration (“Pun Quilt”).
Seeing them together, you wouldn’t guess they are made by the same quilter, but it shows Mimi’s depth and sense of humor. If you would like to see more about this exhibit, there’s a link below to Mimi’s “Farewell Tour” in which she describes the sections of the exhibit and talks about her Top Five pieces.
Mimi has a long-standing association with the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) eginning in 1993 with the exhibition, “Lavish Legacies: Baltimore Album Quilts, 1845-1855,” when she lectured and gave a workshop. In 2001, she and members of the Baltimore Applique Society (BAS) prepared quilts for the MdHS exhibition “The Baltimore Album Quilt Tradition.” Between 2011 and 2015, Mimi was a key member of the volunteer group that catalogued and rehoused the MdHS quilt collection. Additionally, in 2014 she was chosen to applique the stars on a reproduction Star Spangled Banner and lead 200 volunteers in the effort. A real Hometown Girl! And a reminder to us all that our local museums and historical societies could use our help and quilting expertise. Mimi is so well-regarded by the MdHS that they consulted her about a special 1840s red and green applique quilt in their collection. There’s a link below to a video of Mimi sharing her knowledge about the quilt.
Don’t you wish you could learn applique from someone as skilled and knowledgeable as Mimi Dietrich? I’d like to talk my guild into having her come to us when the pandemic is under control.
In an ordinary year, there would be lectures offered in conjunction with the July Celebration, but this year we’ve had to punt, and Mimi Dietrich has graciously stepped in to help. Even though it won’t be the same as an in-person class, you can still learn from Mimi in a virtual format. Join her on July 14th at 10:00 EDT (details coming to the Hall of Fame website) and see how she creates her beautiful applique. You won’t be calling it the ‘A’ word anymore.
Before I go, I want to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Honorees Michael James (June 30) and Eleanor Burns (July 3). I’ll tell you about Eleanor next week because she also has a Celebration activity coming up, and Mr. James will go onto my random rota. In the meantime, here’s a virtual card for them both.
I’ve been writing every week about Honorees of The Quilters Hall of Fame, but this time I’m going to switch up and write about people who haven’t been inducted—yet.
My inspiration, if you can call it that, was my sewing experience earlier today. Did your mother ever say, “Don’t sew on Sunday or the Devil will make you pick out your stitches with your nose”? Well, that’s what happened to me; seventeen seams in, all but four taken out. But thank goodness for my seam ripper! Or as I like to call it, the Mulligan Stick. (If you or your husband golf, you’ll recognize a Mulligan as an opportunity for a do-over. My husband turns on a wood lathe, and he can’t correct his mistakes like I can, so I try to keep a cheerful attitude about un-sewing.)
We all joke about seam rippers and the stitch removal process. We use terms like frog stitching/ ribbit; reverse sewing, etc. I recently ordered some tools online that were called stitch fixers: same thing, but with a more positive spin. So, who invented the seam ripper, and why isn’t he in The Hall of Fame?
Here’s the answer to the first question, from Tenrandomfacts.com:
Seam rippers where probably invented sometime in the late 1800s, and one of the earliest patents for a similar tool was a thimble that had the addition of a small knife that was patented in the United States by W Miller in 1883, that was used to rip threads in a similar way; while a later patent exists for a tool designed for the sole purpose of ripping seams, in 1898 by John Fisher from Canada.
Fisher’s device was a piece of twisted metal with a small blade held between two pincer-like ends. The drawing with the patent doesn’t show up well here (a better view is in the link below the photo), but you can recognize this as an ancestor of what we use today. The design evolved from the single slicer between tiny jaws into a curved blade by the 1950s, with a little knobby protector appearing later. We’ve come a long way and today we even have electric ripper scissors, but that’s too modern for me.
As an aside, I learned that I have been using my ripper incorrectly—or at least not as originally designed. Fisher prescribes the method of slashing along the seam line, but I insert the blade into every third to fifth stich on one side, and then pull up the uncut thread on the other side. At the risk of starting something akin to the toilet paper role debate, I’ll ask, “Which way do you rip?”
I couldn’t sew without John Fisher’s invention, and there are many other tools that have changed quilting in a dramatic way. How about the rotary cutter and mat? Or all those specialty rulers we know and love? And, of course, the invention with the biggest impact on our craft/art—the sewing machine. I’m sure you’ve got some favorites too. Why aren’t these inventors in the Quilters Hall of Fame?
And for that matter, why isn’t Jenny Doan of Missouri Star in? Or someone from the Modern Quilt Guild? Or that fabric designer who always comes up with a new line for you to fall in love with?
Well, the number one reason someone doesn’t get in to the Hall of Fame is that they haven’t been nominated. Yes, everyone agrees that Elias Howe and Isaac Singer made invaluable contributions to the world of quilting, but unless someone puts those names forward, they won’t be honored. There is no group at the Hall of Fame whose job it is to cast their collective mind around the quilting world and see who is worthy. Instead, the Selection Committee relies on you—actual quilters, quilt enthusiasts, scholars and historians — to present a name for consideration. It’s a way to ensure that the Committee doesn’t play favorites or skew the decision to their own ideas, but it doesn’t work unless you give them something to work with.
The process is quite simple; you can find the nomination form and instructions on the Hall of Fame website (link below). But essentially, all you have to do is “Tell how he/she has made outstanding contributions to the world of quilting.”, and provide some back up info. The website doesn’t tell you, but there are two categories of inductees, one for contemporary nominees, and the other for persons who lived/quilted 50 years ago or are deceased (Heritage Honorees).
One caution: nominations close on August 30th for selection/ announcement at following Celebration. So, you either need to get organized quickly for a 2020 submission/ 2021 decision/ 2022 induction, or take your time knowing, that the earliest your nominee would be honored would be 2023. Either way, it’s worth doing.
I submitted a nomination last year, proposing a woman from my hometown, Chicago, who had begun her quilting career around the time of the 1933 World’s Fair. The process was enjoyable and gave me the opportunity to get acquainted with my quilter’s descendants, learn more about quilting and the Century of Progress, and practice using the Quilt Index. If you go this route, you’ll soon become an expert in your area. If you propose a current quilter, you can rely on your own experiences (maybe your nominee gave a lecture or workshop at your guild), you’ll find it easy to gather data from the internet, and you may even make a connection with your nominee. Please consider making a nomination.
Next week, I’ll be back to writing about actual Honorees. Don’t ask yourself why that person was chosen. Ask why you haven’t made your choice known. (Channeling JFK here—sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
You’ve been very attentive to all this narrative, and I know that Fourth of July is coming up, so here are some photos of my Patient Piecers Bee group and our patriotic projects. The first two are a round robin started with some unusual (read: ugly; Americana prints don’t often have that coppery green) fabric, and the second is Quilts of Valor. Have a good Fourth!
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Honorees Mary Barton and Bets Ramsey share a birthday today, June 9th. I thought to write about them together, but there’s too much to say about each of them. I’ll start with Bets, and get to Mary next week.
Before I start though, I want to thank all the gals in my guild (shout out to you, Faithful Circle) who helped with suggestions on how to improve this blog. For one thing, I was told that the links I include would be better at the end, so the reader isn’t skipping away from the Hall of Fame site; I’ll try that this time. Also, administratively we are going to add more “tags” to make it easier for someone browsing the internet to find us. If you have other ideas to help us increase visibility or to provide better information, please leave a comment. Now, on to Bets Ramsey, who turns 90 today and is the 2005 inductee.
You can read a full biography of Bets on the Honoree page of the Hall of Fame website (link below) or get a visual recap of her life in the video (another link below). But I want to focus on one big part of her life: her writing. Bets is best known for her authorship of books on quilts in the South. She was born in Tennessee, and lives there today, so she was writing about what she knows. Here are three in the Hall of Fame Collection.
The first of these books, Quilts of Tennessee, derived from a four-year project documenting, with Hall of Fame Honoree, Merikay Waldvogel, almost 1500 quilts in their home state. If you search the Quilt Index (link below), you’ll discover over 250 Tennessee quilts that they documented. And, just because no blog of mine is complete without a Quilt Index citation, here’s one of the earliest they found; look at that quilting!
Much of this documentation was spun off into six scholarly articles published in the American Quilt Study Group research journal, Uncoverings. The first of these, “Design Invention in Country Quilts of Tennessee and Georgia”, attributes a characteristic of country quilts observed by Ramsey: compromise brought on by necessity. She gives as examples the use of cut outs (broderie perse), string piecing and natural dyes. There’s a certain effort at organization, and her premise couldn’t be fully developed in an eight-page essay, but what really comes across, is the soft spot Bets had in her heart for the cherished family quilts she was learning about, and her respect for the quiltmaker-artisans she interviewed.
Again, writing about what she knew, in “Recollections of Childhood Recorded in a Tennessee Quilt”, Ramsey detailed a project spearheaded in her capacity as crafts specialist with the Senior Neighbors of Chattanooga, Inc. Her thought was, “Every quilt is a piece of history. It is a record of the fabric of a given period. Its pattern and design reflect the style of the time. The quilt is an essay about the maker’s ability, training, taste, and feelings.” But for this project, she wanted a quilt which would visually record history. Jumping off from the tradition of Baltimore Albums and other quilts which depicted items of symbolic significance or the maker’s contemporaneous surroundings, she invited a group of mostly blacks who had grown up in rural areas to make a quilt depicting a story from their youth. The article with charm and a tremendous feeling for the quiltmakers describes many of the stories that came out during the making of the quilt. Why isn’t this quilt on the Quilt Index?
Next came “Roses Real and Imaginary: Nineteenth-Century Botanical Quilts of the Mid-South”, a comparative study of the influence of rural and agrarian life on chosen quilt patterns, interspersed with diary entries mentioning the quilts being made. And then “The Land of Cotton: Quiltmaking by African-American Women in Three Southern States”, based on oral interviews with rural quiltmakers who had moved to the city. In both cases, Bets was writing about what she knew, or rather, what she went out and gleaned.
Bets also knows about art. Her grade school and high school years were spent in Oak Park, Illinois (famous as the home of Frank Lloyd Wright) and she decided early on to be an artist. In that vein, her fifth AQSG publications for Uncoverings was “Art and Quilts: 1950-1970”. I don’t think of those years as being a flourishing time for quilts of any style, let alone art quilts, but Bets was writing about what she knew, from her personal acquaintances, her experience with mounting the Holstein/ Van der Hoof exhibit when it travelled to Tennessee, and decades of craft work. Her remaining article, given as a special presentation at AQSG was a recognition of fiber artist Mariska Karasz.
Bets doesn’t just write about quilts, she actually makes them, and takes this artistic endeavor seriously. She even has a Linkedin profile describing herself as a fiber artist, but I’m not savvy enough to get there. Although my focus was intended to be about her writing, it wouldn’t be fair to leave you without a quick view of some of her work.
Artists, unlike the rest of us, often work in series to try out their ideas, and Bets is no exception. Whether she planned it deliberately or not, she has produced a number of items from other people’s scraps.
First is “Wild Goose Chase” with pieced strips made by Elizabeth Richardson and given to Peto. (As an aside, I’m sharing 30’s Christmas fabric with friends as a challenge. Do you ever do that?) And then, a little quilt made of a chunk of fabric from one of Marie Webster’s dresses. At the bottom is “Peto’s Centennial Challenge”, made from Hall of Fame Honoree Florence Peto’s scraps from her challenge to Bertha Stenge (another Honoree) and Elizabeth Richardson. The Quilters Hall of Fame boasts a dozen more of these scrap quilts, and there’s a link below. Sometimes, if we’re especially lucky, Bets will contribute a piece for the annual fund-raiser live auction; keep your fingers crossed and eyes peeled.
And now for something completely different, “Valley of Forgotten Dreams”. (Well, not completely; it does use scraps of kimonos.)
And, “Fog Days on Cranberry Island” will round us out where Bets’ artistic career got started in 1967 when she and her family summered off the coast of Maine, and she participated in local arts and crafts fairs.
If you want to see more of her quilts and hear Bets talk about them, there’s a great video link below.
Phew, I didn’t even tell you about her lectures and quilt columns! Maybe another time. But for now, let’s just all wish Bets a Happy Birthday.
Your quilting friend,
Links mentioned above; if you can’t Control+Click, then cut and paste the reference into your browser.
Marie Webster loved the flowers of the Dogwood tree, among the earliest to bloom each spring. She loved them so much she designed two quilts featuring Dogwood flowers.
White Dogwood, pictured above, was first published in January, 1912 in Ladies’ Home Journal. Instead of a traditional square block format, White Dogwood has blocks set on point with the center block reserved for special quilting. The on-point blocks create a lattice of intersecting branches dotted with pink-tipped blossoms. The background is pale green linen, the branches are of heavily textured linen suggesting bark, while the petals are of smooth white cotton. This was her first quilt with a scalloped border. More information and the pattern for this quilt can be found in A Joy Forever: Marie Webster’s Quilt Patterns by Rosalind Webster Perry and Marty Frolli.
Some 15 years later, Marie was once again inspired by the dogwood’s beauty. “Pink Dogwood in Applique for the Bedroom” was featured in the Ladies’ Home Journal issue of September 1927, pictured on a four-poster bed. In this strong design four large baskets anchor the corners of the quilt. Light pink flowers tumble out of the baskets to form a large wreath, surrounding a neat arrangement of dark pink blooms in the center. In the border, garland of light and dark blossoms echo the curves of the scalloped edges. The pattern for this quilt can be found in the book Marie Webster’s Garden of Quilts by Rosalind Webster Perry and Marty Frolli.
The Quilters Hall of Fame has one example of this quilt in its collection. Unfortunately, the maker and date of construction are unknown. The quiltmaker creatively added purple to the handles of the baskets. Hand quilting runs 9 – 10 inches per inch. The binding is pink and is echoed along the inner edge by a half-inch band of pale pink bias fabric. The fabrics appear quite faded and the binding is worn, but it is a lovely quilt nonetheless. Thanks go out to Shirley Nowakowski for the generous donation of this quilt.
It is the mission of The Quilters Hall of Fame to honor our honorees for their contributions to the world of quilting. If you enjoyed this look into Marie Webster’s garden and Dogwood designs, please share this post with a friend.
“Brown Doesn’t Go With Purple.” “Oh, Yes it Does!” Says Jinny Beyer
How’s this for a tee shirt or Facebook meme?
Everything I needed to know about color, I learned from Jinny Beyer.
It’s not quite accurate; I’ve known the color wheel most of my life, and as a dyer, I’ve read lots about color. But if there is one person in modern quilt history who is inextricably associated with color, it’s Hall of Fame Honoree Jinny Beyer.
Her quilting story began in India (read a full account here: https://quiltershalloffame.net/jinny-beyer/ ) where things were different from quilting in the States. At a time when dusty rose, dusty blue and seafoam green were the standard, Jinny worked in vibrant colors. Here’s her first quilt, made with Indian fabrics. It wasn’t going to fit in with the country look of the 1970s, but she worked with what she had—and achieved spectacular results.
If you read her Hall of Fame bio, you know that Jinny came home to the US and received lots of encouragement from Hall of Fame founder, Hazel Carter. (I love the inter-connectedness of the quilt world. And I especially love the theme of women helping women.) With Hazel and her guild cheering her on, Beyer jumped into competition. Here’s a photo of Jinny’s “Ray of Light” which won the Good Housekeeping and U.S. Historical Society contest, “The Great American Quilt”.
But let’s get back to the notion of color. This is a quilt that is currently for sale as a kit or pattern on the Jinny Beyer website.
Would you look at that? It’s brown and purple, and it works! What is this sorcery? It’s not dark magic, it’s Jinny’s color theory in operation. Using the method described in her book, Color Confidence for Quilters, you can put any colors together, as long as you make the proper transitions. And how do you do that? Well, to truly understand the process, you should read the book, but I can give you a very simplified visual using an object in the Hall of Fame Collection, a “Jinny Beyer Palette Poster”. (Warning label: I’m really leaving out a lot. The book is worth your time.)
The poster shows 100 fabric swatches in the original fabric line that Jinny designed—all tone-on-tones or blenders. Start with a brown in the upper right, and go counter-clockwise around to the purples in the upper left. You’ll notice that this took you through some reds and oranges. And now go back to the quilt image, and you’ll find the same color range there.
This was heady stuff when it first came out (and still useful today). So much so that Wikipedia says, “Encyclopedia Britannica and RJR Fabrics credited her for being one of the first designers to form a fabric collection suited to the needs of quilters.” Of course, you can apply the Beyer method with other fabric, but it’s just too yummy to look at the palette pre-cuts she offers.
And now, here’s my quilt that I also called Marrakesh.
You’ll notice that I did not blend successfully (the green doesn’t fit—it’s in the inner border fabric, but I should have gone clockwise on the poster, from the reds through some yellows and golds to get to it) and I need to learn to miter. But I thought I was pretty creative when I ran out of outside border fabric and compensated with a stepped-in frame—kinda like a rug you would get at the market in Marrakesh.
So that’s my segue into another thing that Jinny Beyer has contributed to the quilting world: border fabrics. Talk about bang for your buck! Border fabrics do the work so you don’t have to. If you want an easy traditional quilt, you can alternate strips of the border fabric with columns of a simple block. All the design impact, and half of the piecing. It’s been on my “To Do” list; note the date in the selvedge.
Or, if you’re doing a round robin with friends, or otherwise going for the center medallion-style, border fabrics are your friends. (Timely for the AQSG 2021 Quilt Study which is “Framed Center/Medallion Quilts: History of a Style”.) Dare I say it? Border fabrics can really cut corners.
Or, if you’re truly ambitious, you can use border fabric as a design element, as in this quilt from one of Jinny’s many books.
Or, sometimes, the border fabric inspires the colors of the field as in this original design using blocks from Jinny’s book ‘The Quilter’s Album of Blocks and Borders’.
Here’s the Casablanca border from the Marrakesh quilt. (You’ll notice it’s really red, not brown. But it reads as brown in the photo above, so I took some poetic license to make my brown/purple point.) Next to it is a different print showing Jinny’s design genius. Many border prints on the market just repeat a single design, leaving you to figure out what part you want to lose in the cutting. But these all have a built-in seam allowance and two sizes, proportioned to the Golden Mean ratio to give you flexibility.
There’s also lots of free stuff on the general site, including a pattern for table runners. Notice how the designs are perfectly matched, and compare mine using a non-Beyer border print.
I think I need to get the pattern and go shopping for some more Jinny Beyer fabric; this is going to be a costly blog, but all of Jinny color and opulence has made it worth it. Stay tuned to see if I actually sew something.