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2005 Honoree Bets Ramsey

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.

Deb Geyer




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.

Helen Kelley was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in 2008. See her biography at: https://quiltershalloffame.net/helen-kelley/

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!




Twins and a Few Poppies

We’ve recently honored our veterans, and there were lots of poppy memes and photos going around the internet.  Deb Geyer shared these from The Embroiderers’ Guild of Victoria:

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




Pauline Parker

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.

Exterior of Quadracci Pavilion. Photo: evisitorguide.com
Entry hall at Milwaukee Museum of Art. Photo: evisitorguide.com

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.

Coastline Quilt

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.)

Anita Hill at the Senate Judiciary Committee

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 in Moonlight

“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.

Crazy Quilt with Prom Dresses

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.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

 Virtual Tour. https://mam.org/exhibitions/details/quilts-pauline-parker.php




Jeffrey Gutcheon: Renaissance Man

What 12-year-old sends his classic piano teacher of five years packing after he hears Fats Waller’s boogie style?  And later goes on to collaborate on the Broadway musical tribute to Waller, “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “? 

Photo source: Wikipedia

That would be Quilters Hall of Fame Honoree and Renaissance Man, Jeffrey Gutcheon.

Jeff was one of the pioneers of then-modern quilting in the early 1970s.  He helped move us away from the orderly block style (which still appeals to me) and into dimension, shading and texture on cloth.

You can read more about Jeff and quilting at the bio link below.

Jeff’s musical prowess rivals his quilting career, and he embraced a variety of genres including jazz, country, blues and pop. His non-quilting book about improvisational piano appears to be well-valued; it’s available on Amazon for $902.81 (or $34.79 in paperback).

Jeff also played piano for Steve Goodman who was a favorite funky-folk personality in Chicago (my home town) in the mid-1970s, I probably heard him perform with Steve, and I remember so much energy, humor and variety in those shows. What an exciting time it was! There’s a link below to an obituary that reads as Jeff’s musical resumé.

But you don’t get to be called a Renaissance Man with just two areas of interest. So, I’ll add the entrepreneur aspect: the fabric line he produced with his wife Beth. Let’s go shopping.

The center would provide some texture, and the one on the left, available on Esty, might pair well.  I’d add a white and maybe try to match the pale green. Or maybe I’d be better off with the center and the colorway on the right.  Or not; I don’t need another UFO!

And now for something completely different from eBay; this one seems to combine the concept of Escher’s tessellations with the now-popular Australian Aboriginal sensibility.  It’s happy and lively—like Gutcheon’s music. It has a modern feel even though he designed this fabric around forty years ago. (And let me detour to put in a plug for Phyllis Hatcher’s lecture about Aboriginal fabrics to be presented during the upcoming Hall of Fame Celebration. There’s a link below.)

Back to Jeff and the final area of interest to make him a Renaissance Man: architecture. Theres’ a connection for sure between quilting and architecture.  The woman who taught me to quilt said that her sons spent hours finger-tracing shapes from the quilts on their beds; now one is an architect and the other is a professor of design engineering and architecture. Gutcheon had formal training in this field, earning a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966.  He then taught architectural design at MIT and worked a bit in private practice.

He designed the music studios for The Hit Factory located at 353 West 48th Street in New York City which some say John Lennon visited on the day of his murder. Lennon and Yoko Ono definitely collaborated to record “Double Fantasy” there, and were regular clients.  The space is now occupied by Sear Sound, and the last photos show the original layout and the current Studio A.

Photo: Germano Studios The Hit Factory

He also designed homes for himself and for friends on Deer Isle, Maine. Here’s an exterior shot of the one that was his until his death; a spectacular north woods getaway.  The property is now available for rental, and you can see more photos and get pricing info at the link below.

Photo: Island Rentals

With so many talents to talk about, I almost forgot to talk about his quilting.  Here’s just one example of how he put his own innovative views into cloth.

Gutcheon, Jeffrey. Cape/ Original. 1978. From Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project – MassQuilts, Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project, MassQuilts; New England Quilt Museum Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=11-37-3130. Accessed: 06/13/21

Wow! This guy was certainly creative in so many outlets.  A true Renaissance Man.

I’m going to close with an invitation to join me (and some other more important people) at The Quilters Hall of Fame Celebration next month. Details are in the link below; you’ll see that I am giving a lecture and I’m really excited about sharing new information about my favorite Chicago quilter, Mary Gasperik. Please come for the fun and fund-raising which supports all that The Quilters Hall of Fame does.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

Bio. https://quiltershalloffame.net/jeffrey-gutcheon/

Music resumé.  http://www.thecoolgroove.com/gutcheon.html.

Aboriginal fabric lecture. https://shop.quiltershalloffame.net/products/phyllis-hatcher-fabric-down-under-aboriginal-dot-art-in-quilts

Deer Isle property. https://www.islandrentalsmaine.com/vacation-rental-home.asp?PageDataID=110609

Celebration schedule. https://quiltershalloffame.net/celebration-schedule/




How We’ve Grown

I’ve just come back from a work day in the Collections “Department” at the Hall of Fame. On a break from our cataloging, we talked about how the Quilters Hall of Fame has evolved since that first induction of six Honorees at the 1979 Continental Quilting Congress.  (Shout out to our Founder, Hazel Carter!). So, this week I’m going to give you a recap of our thoughts on how we’ve grown.

For decades, Quilters Hall of Fame was a status; people were named and recognized for their contributions to the world of quilting. Then, beginning in the early 1990s, it took on a physical presence as the Marie Webster home (now a National Landmark in case you didn’t know) was restored and opened in 2004. And since then, it has been growing into a full-fledged museum with exhibits, archives and a collection of significant objects related to the Honorees.

Exhibits; we usually do four a year, and they are really professional—you could say “museum-quality”! Remember when I when I wrote about Jonathan Holstein/ Gail van der Hoof’s Whitney Museum exhibit and talked about how museum space is designed? I quoted Karin Peterson’s research:

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….

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

Well, the Webster House obviously wasn’t built as a museum, but it functions well under Peterson’s standards. The upstairs rooms (accessible via elevator) with the doors removed create intimate spaces where you can really get to know the quilts. Take a look at this display from a 2019 exhibit. Whitney has nothing on us!

Left: Trip the Light Quilt by Heather Braunlin-Jones. Right: Tessellation Quilt by Alison Glass.

Downstairs has high ceilings which make the quilts seem grand.  Of course, seeing a contemporary quilt hung above a carved and tiled fireplace isn’t exactly neutral, but I find the unexpected juxtaposition is welcome. Here are some shots of the 2020 Edson exhibit so you can see what I mean.

Thomas Eakins Hexagon, by Jack Edson, 2020
Left: Edgar Degas, by Jack Edson, 2017. Over mantle: Self-Portrait by Jack Edson.

Doesn’t this make you want to plan a visit? If you come soon, you’ll find the exhibit of Hollis Chatelain’s quilts.  You’re going to want to see this one.  Rather than being a themed exhibit, it’s a special showing of selected quilts over her years of work, so you can get a real visual picture of how the artist’s work has developed; these quilts will not come together again. You may have seen some of her “Stories of West Africa” quilts at Houston or Paducah or one of several quilt museums around the country.  If you aren’t familiar with Chatelain, I’d say she’s a spell-caster working in thread. There’s a link to her website below, and here she is with one of her most famous quilts.

Innocence by Hollis Chatelain, 2021.

This is a great image by itself, but what you don’t see unless you are standing in front of it are the hundreds of shadow images of other children.  You’ve got to go the Hall of Fame and see it (and the other quilts) in person. Hurry; it’s only up until July 24th.But, coming up next will be an exhibit of quilts from this year’s Inductee, Marti Michell, from July 27 – October 2.  That will be followed by” Deeds Not Words: Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage” which will be shown October 5-December 11.

Along with the exhibits, the Hall of Fame offers lectures and other activities. Here’s a group that appears to be learning about applique quilts.

And it’s not just us old-lady quilters who learn. This group of school kids had some specific things on their list; I wonder if it was a scavenger hunt. Here’s where the quilt historian in me comes in: what should these youngsters be told about the two quilts that are shown? What do you think they would tell us about them? And isn’t it wonderful that the Hall of Fame is reaching this generation?

Well, I had planned to tell you about other ways in which Quilters Hall of Fame has grown, but it’s Memorial Day weekend, and I want to get out to my garden. So, I’ll stop here and save Collections (near and dear to my heart) and other aspects for another post.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

Hollis Chatelain website.  https://www.hollisart.com/




If You Love to Look at Old Quilts, Thank Sally Garoutte

Before I get to Sally Garoutte, I have a follow-up to do. I promised to keep you posted on the International Quilt Museum’s retrospective of the 1971 Whitney Museum “Abstract Design in American Quilts” show.  You’ll remember that the original show was mounted by Hall of Fame Honorees Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof, and at the time it rocked the art world by showing quilts as modern art. We’ve come a long way since then, but it’s always good to go back to the beginning. Here’s an iconic example from the original exhibit.

Rainbow Stripes
Inscribed E. S. REITZ. Probably made in Pennsylvania, 1890-1910
IQM 2003.003.0041

Over the next several months, IQM will have four exhibits, each exploring a different aspect of the show: Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50, Raising the Profile, New York Nexus, and Journey to Japan. There’s a link below to the current exhibits on the IQM site; scroll down and select any of the four exhibits, and that will take you to a page where you can link to descriptions of each quilt in the exhibit, photos of the quilts on display, and even a 3-D tour of the exhibit in the IQM. There’s so much to see from the comfort of your couch, and so much to think about. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe you can catch one of the exhibits in person. Either way, be sure to mentally thank Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof for their foresight; Happy 50th Anniversary, “Abstract Design”!

And the Whitney exhibit also provides the tie-in to this week’s Honoree, Sally Garoutte. You can read her full bio at the link below, but I’ll focus on her quilt story (and a bonus). While the “Abstract Design” exhibit was up on the East Coast, Sally was in California turning her studies in silk screening, color and textiles into a special interest in quilts. With fellow-Honoree Joyce Gross, Sally founded the Mill Valley Quilt Authority, (one of the early groups to promote quilting and the preservation of quilts).  Sally and Joyce collaborated over many years, publishing Quilters’ Journal and founding the American Quilt Study Group. On the left is a photo from 1986 AQSG Seminar, with Sally front and center; she’s flanked by other notables who look a little different today. You may not recognize Barbara Brackman and Julie Silber, but Bets Ramsey is ageless. The photo on the right shows quilt documentation at the first AQSG Seminar in 1980; I won’t attempt to identify people from behind, but do you know what the quilt block is? But note the woman wearing a vest with a similar quilt block vest—fashions change, but quilt study carries on.

Sally was the editor of Uncoverings, AQSG’s annual publication of members’ research papers, from its founding through 1986, and co-editor in 1987. She herself contributed articles about Hawaiian textiles, Marseilles quilts, and an 1846 California quilting party.  The list of other writers during her editorship includes many Hall of Fame Honorees: Barbara Brackman, Merikay Waldvogel, Virginia Gunn, Joyce Gross, Cuesta Benberry, Bets Ramsey, and even Florence Peto. You might also recognize Judy Mathieson of Mariner’s Compass fame and Joe Cunningham who, pre-pandemic, was teaching his improvisational style to guilds around the country.

But Sally didn’t take all comers. Even articles by famous persons had to be historically accurate and measure up to Sally’s standards for research. Here’s her thoughts on quilt history:

In an effort to illuminate the history of quilts in America, some early writers unfortunately did just the opposite. Using the writing style of 50 years ago, most historians did not document their sources, and simply stated their theories and surmises as though they were fact…. Folklore, however, is not history. Although we need the lore to understand what people thought and how they felt about things, we need history too. We need to know what happened and what people did, and we need to document it dependably.

“Early Colonial Quilts in a Bedding Context,”.Uncoverings; 1980.

In one of her early articles, Sally explains scholarly research:

Simply put, a scholarly paper is the account of research that has been done by its author. Its distinguishing feature is that it is verifiable.It states where and how its information was found, so that any other person can go and look at the same information. An article or paper that does not state clearly where its facts came from is not scholarly. It is a story asking to be taken on faith. It is not verifiable. The reader can only hope that the author has searched factual material before writing her conclusions, as there is no way to check it.

Quilter’s Journal; Spring 1981; Vol. 4, No. 1

Sally, for all her interest in quilt history, wasn’t a quilter, but there’s still a little to show. This quilt, which appeared on the cover of the 1978 issue of the journal Textile Chemist and Colorist, is the only quilt Sally made.

Courtesy of Kate Garoutte for
The Quilters Hall of Fame 42 Masters Who Have Shaped Our Art

She also contributed a block to the Cuesta Benberry Friendship Quilt, but I don’t know if she made it or collected it; it looks pieced, but it also could be a print. Here’s the whole quilt with Sally’s block in the lower right corner and a larger version of that block—it’s called “Star on a String”.

“Cuesta Benberry’s Friendship Quilt”. 1979  Garoutte block “Star on a String” Assembled by Betty Hagerman and Helen Ericson. Collection of Michigan State University Museum acc.#2008:119.11
Garoutte block “Star on a String.”

The reason I suggest that Sally’s block could be a print is because silk screening was her medium.  So now, here’s the bonus: I’m going to get to show you some things I just helped to catalog for the Quilters Hall of Fame collection. Here are two little quilts, the tops of which were made by Sally; we know that the log cabin was quilted by someone else, but don’t know about the other. There are links below if you want to read the full descriptions.

Also in our collection is a group of screen prints, eight of them showing autos, and six with people in or on the water. These were part of a research project, “Treasures From a Shoebox”, that Sally did when she was at Goddard College in 1974. The original images were family photograph negatives that she found in the attic. Here’s one of them, and there’s a link for the rest. With all but one of the images Sally experimented with different colors of ink or with different background fabrics, so be sure to see them all to get a flavor of her artistic process.

We also have a large undated piece made by Sally and donated by Hall of Fame Founder, Hazel Carter. We don’t know if this was also a college project or a later work, so if anyone has more information, please let us know. This is a large piece, 47” x 66”, and unlike the “Treasures”, it is printed on a heavy fabric, almost like a woven coverlet. I can’t imagine what it would be used for, so I’m going to say it’s “art for art’s sake” (ars gratia artis—you’ve seen that quote above the lion in old movie reels).

Well, that’s Sally Garoutte. I wouldn’t be writing today if I hadn’t attended an AQSG Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2012 and gotten hooked on quilt history.  And I’m looking forward to this year’s Seminar in the Shenandoah Valley, where I’m sure to see many wonderful old Virginia quilts and many wonderful old friends and colleagues.  I have a lot to thank Sally Garoutte for, and I’m glad to have had this chance to get to know her better.  I hope you feel the same way.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

IQS Abstract Art. https://www.internationalquiltmuseum.org/exhibitions/now-showing

AQSG. https://americanquiltstudygroup.org/

Starley blog about AQSG. https://www.discoverypub.com/columns/Quilts/1118_Quilts/index.html

Log cabin. https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/B2259870-E9F5-4D0B-8063-278191233860

Tumbling blocks. https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/0A294F36-B852-42B4-9185-004765572716

Treasures from a Shoebox. https://quiltershalloffame.pastperfectonline.com/webobject?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search_criteria=%22sally+garoutte%22&searchButton=Search




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




Smooth Sailing With Carter Houck

I was interested to read that this week’s Honoree, Carter Houck, was a sailor; I thought I could write about something we have in common. But she was a racer, and I was a cruiser (my husband and I crewed on the Schooner “Madeline” out of Traverse City, Michigan)—totally different experiences. Even so, it made me wonder if there was a connection between Carter’s sailing and quilting. I searched and searched and only came up with this book she wrote:

Carter also enjoyed hiking and was active in an Appalachian Trail organization, but I couldn’t find anything on that either.  So, that leaves me to tell you about her quilt career; don’t worry–there’s lots of material there. You can read her bio at the link below, and I’ll give you a few extra bits. After studying fashion and working for Singer and Butterick on the East Coast, Carter found herself with her family in Texas. But, to use a sailing term, she wasn’t becalmed. She contacted the editor of the largest newspaper in the state, the Fort Worth Star Telegraph, and convinced them that they needed a sewing column (which she could write from home while caring for her children, and submit by mail). Here’s the announcement telling of the upcoming feature.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Nov. 8, 1950

These columns dealt mainly with garment and home décor sewing (lots of ruffles included), but one she did on appliqué could hold its own in any quilt book. The accompanying sketch shows Carter’s pattern-making skills.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram. June 6, 1951.

She knew her audience, and in addition to suggesting the use of appliqué for decorating children’s clothes and making knee patches, she noted, “Occasionally, on such things as western shirts, where the material is heavy, and the design all in one color, you will wish to outline it in another color.”

Following a move back East and a ten-year hiatus, Carter began another sewing column, this time for Parents Magazine. She then moved to Lady’s Circle Needlework, where she and her photographer/business partner, Myron Miller, scoured the old homes of Connecticut to find samples of embroidery and other handwork for the magazine.  And that’s how her quilt career started.  When they found some quilts in a bedroom, Myron said to Carter, “These are it! Forget all of that piddly diddly needlework, quilts are really exciting.” Carter knew that the only quilting magazine of the day was the black-and-white Quilter’s Newsletter (published by another Honoree, Bonnie Lehman), and that since Lady’s Circle had color printing capability, they could successfully compete. Carter edited Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazine for 20 year. And she came to be a feature writer for the competition as well. Here are some covers to give you an idea of how quilting evolved over the span of her editorship.

It was a small step from editing into publishing and Carter was prolific in that area. She’s known for writing the quilting books shown here. (Treasury and American Quilts have art-quality photos by Myron Miller.)

She worked with Honoree Donna Wilder on the first two below, and with Robert Bishop on the second two:

And showing her general needle craft expertise, she is also credited with these.

In addition to her own books and those she co-authored, Carter edited Christine Dobbs’ Crazy Quilts and wrote the introduction to Pat Long Gardner’s Handkerchief Quilts.  Impressive! You could get a good start on filling a library with all of Carter’s books.

Her renown in the print world led to invitations to judge at quilt shows. She was also a quilting judge for the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. In an interview with the Quilt Alliance (link below), she gives some insight into the early days when shows were more “hometown”, but hectic in other respects.   Here’s Carter judging a local guild show:

Cotton Patch Quilters, March 2001

Although she was proficient with the needle, Carter is not known for her own quilts. She freely admitted that her knowledge of quilts came from 20 years of handling, photographing and looking up the history of other people’s quilts.  I couldn’t find any Carter Houck quilts on the internet—nothing in the Quilt Index or the International Quilt Museum, not even in the folklore museum for whom she judged. But here’s one photo of Carter with a quilt she “rescued” and remade (from “Passing on a Little Bit of Who I Am”: The Transmission of Quiltmaking to a New Generation by Christine Humphery).

Photo: Quilt Alliance

The Quilters Hall of Fame does have one piece of Carter’s work, but it’s in a quilt made by another Honoree, Georgia Bonesteel. Georgia asked quilters to make blocks for a quilt that she would put together; the blocks were to be houses representing their lifestyles or quilting styles. This is what Carter sent her- a two story deep pink Victorian house with center gable and circular window. The second story has a horizontal rectangular framed piece of white Aida cloth with the name “Carter Houck” cross-stitched in medium blue, and two square two-over-two windows. The porch roof and the house and gable roof have crocheted trim, probably hand done, to represent gingerbread molding.

Block by Carter Houck
Georgia Bonesteel. Three Banners: The Street Where Quilters Live. From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame.

Okay, since I couldn’t find any hobby photos of Carter, I’m going to close with an image from the company of her second husband, A. Grant Holt, who, with a couple of Amherst College friends, operated a Christmas décor business in the 1960s.  I actually have one of these things, and I’ll bet they, or other Holt Howard ceramic items, are familiar to you too.  My editor thinks these are scary, but I say they are typical “mid-century modern”.

So, the next time you read a quilting magazine, or get out your Christmas decorations, or go for a hike/sail, think of Carter Houck.  She passed a year ago in April, and I’m sure she has found what every sailor looks for: fair winds and following seas.

Your quilting friend,

Anna

Bio info. https://quiltershalloffame.net/carter-houck/

Interview. https://quiltalliance.org/portfolio/qsos-with-carter-houck/

Passing On a Little Bit. (scroll down for Carter; or read the interesting entries preceding hers) https://quiltalliance.org/ardis-james-scholars/passing-on-a-little-bit-of-who-i-am/