September 22, 2020

Flexner Family Names on a Signature Quilt - Part 2

 

You'll find the full backstory to this post on a post from April, 2018.  Here's a short summary.

Back in the 1980s, I'd found three people with my mother's maiden name, Flexner, on a 1910 fundraiser quilt at the museum in Kalona, Iowa.  They were not included in the genealogy that my mom knew, so we went exploring.  And after a circuitous and long route, I finally unearthed the answer:

My great-great-grandmother and the mother of the man named on the quilt were cousins.  They both had married men from the Flexner family.  So this quilt had led us to a branch of the family that we had never known about!  Unfortunately, by the time the internet came along to help the search, my mom had passed and never got to hear the conclusion.

Then last summer, in August, 2019, I was contacted by a woman who had found my blog while doing research on her Flexner ancestors.  She was wondering if the Jacob Flexner in her family was the same person as the Jacob Flexner in my family.  Turns out, they are not.  They were born about 6 years apart and have different middle initials and different parents.  

But here's where it gets really cool.  The two cousins named Mrs. Flexner both had many children, and amongst them, both had sons named Jacob.  One Jacob is brother of the man named on the quilt, and the other Jacob is brother of my great-grandfather.

And now, thanks to another cousin in that line, I have received photographs from their family archive!

What an exciting moment!

September 12, 2020

Another Snowflake Quilt

Wonderful coincidences and quilt stories just keep on coming.  I love quilters!  Here's the newest one to arrive in my inbox:

I have inherited this quilt and saw you restored one just like it! Thank you for giving me some history of where this quilt came from. I didn’t know who made it but am a new quilter and really appreciated the work. So, that's pretty exciting!

Of course, I wrote back and asked if I could post the quilt and her story here.  She kindly agreed.  Here's what she has to tell:

August 31, 2020

Social Justice Sewing Academy - Remembrance Block Project


Hi, everyone.  My recent three weeks of sewing have been deep and meaningful.

As some of you know, I have been doing some sewing for the Social Justice Sewing Academy for a while now.  This is a brilliant organization, lovingly and thoughtfully created and organized. The mission statement includes using and teaching sewing and art skills as a way to voice social justice topics and to give voice to parts of the population who are underserved or not served by the art world.

I can best describe the Remembrance Block Project by quoting from the website:

...a quilt block community art project that will provide activist art banners for local and national activist organizations who have requested creative statements to be publicly displayed that represent solidarity as well as remembrance. This partnership will create a visual statement to memorialize those who have been unjustly murdered by community violence (e.g. gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, etc.) race-based violence, law enforcement, and gender or sexuality based violence. These artivism blocks will honor the lives of individuals through symbolism and portrait. Their names and identities will be displayed during community activism events reminding the world that their lives mattered.

Unfortunately, as we know, the list of names is very long and continues to grow.

I received my assignment three weeks ago.  I spent the first week researching the life cut short that I was to memorialize, and two weeks on the sewing.

Here is Bettie Jones' sad, sad, story:

This block honors Bettie Jones, who died on December 26, 2015 after being shot while trying to help a neighbor in distress.  There is lots of information online about her murder, because it was complex and in litigation for 4 years.  Her landlord and upstairs neighbor had called the police because his son was suffering from mental illness and had become violent and threatening.  The landlord asked her to open the door for the police, but when she did and the officer saw the son coming downstairs and towards him brandishing a baseball bat, he fired into the building.  He killed both the son (Quintonio LeGrier) and Bettie.  Quintonio himself had called earlier to ask for help, but the dispatchers didn’t send anyone.  In the end, the officer was fired and the dispatchers suspended for some time.  To me, this whole heartbreaking story highlights so many ways that this system is broken.

Red was Bettie’s signature color.  She was the matriarch of a loving family, and so I surrounded her with flowers representing her 5 children and 9 grandchildren.  This reminds me of all the large red and white flower arrangements that surrounded her red coffin at her funeral.  The golden bells at the top represent the family choir called Seven Bells.  Her nickname was Bettie Boo.

And here are some in-progress and detail photos.

 

 



The Remembrance Blocks are an on-going project.  You can register to stitch a block on the SJSA website.  There are other projects on-going as well - another sewing project to make memory quilts for bereaved families, and a brand new small business incubator.

There is also a block-of-the-month project.  These blocks are designs by the students in the social justice sewing workshops (which are now on hiatus due to the pandemic).  The blocks are super powerful.  I made one back in March.

I can tell you that this was not emtionally easy, but it has opened my heart and taught me a lot.  It has been a very Good thing to do.

The growing collection of Remembrance Blocks is on Instagram at @sew4justice_sjsa.




August 18, 2020

Eye Contact P.S.

So, having just blogged about my entry in the Eye Contact show yesterday morning, this post about the exhibit showed up in the evening on my instagram!  (It's in two pieces because I couldn't screen shot the whole thing in one go.)



And then, this afternoon, another post by the Virginia museum.

So, I get to share a little bit of the exhibit.  And look up above NiYa's quilt (wouldn't the restaurant that inspired her design be a fun dining experience!) and....Hello!  There are my eyes! 



August 17, 2020

Eye Contact

An exhibit called Eye Contact: Creating A Connection has recently opened at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, VA.  The exhibit runs through September 15, 2020. 

I love everything about this show.  For one thing, I always love a challenge quilt show.  I find all the different, creative ways the challenge topic is expressed to be endlessly fascinating.  I also love this particular show because I have a quilt in it, and I had such a deep experience in making the quilt. 

The quilts are small - 23" wide x 5" high - and the only instruction to the artists was that the subject be "two human eyes looking at the viewer".

Here's my quilt:

July 20, 2020

Piece on Earth


Hello, everyone! 

I haven't posted here in well over a month....

All healthy, so no worries there, in case any of you noticed my absence and were worried.  The whole situation in which we find ourselves took over my attention and energy, and certainly my ability to express it all in words.  But I’ve been busy, and here’s what I’ve been doing.  It’s been a while, so this will be long!  Grab an iced tea (in my hemisphere anyway), and settle in.

May 29, 2020

Why Restore and Conserve Old Quilts?


Why do I like repairing quilts?  My academic background is in anthropology, which taught me about how much meaning the objects we make and use every day can hold.  And all quilts have their story.

"Storytelling is the place where social and personal history meet."

This is a line from a lovely book I recently received, How to Write Your Personal or Family History, by Katie Funk Wiebe.  The book was written by the mother of a dear friend of mine.  She wrote many books, many of them about family and history.

One thing she stresses is how small memories and facts can build a valuable memoir.  I feel the same is true of quilts - it's not only the flashy and museum quality quilts that are worth gentle handling and care.

May 16, 2020

Courthouse Steps



Lately, I have been reaping the benefit of getting to the age of downsizing.  And the benefit has been adopting quilts from many directions.

Not that I really have room or reason to have them myself either, except for being able to write about them here and share them when I teach.  That's good enough, I figure.  But really, the main reason I say yes and bring them in is that I love them and want to give them a home.

I am reminded of my brother- and sister-in-law who kept the garage door open a crack and a bowl of cat food inside until they had a population of 3 dogs and 9 cats.  The 9th cat in the series was named E. Nuff Already.  Yup.

Anyway, a friend offered me this lovely silk Courthouse Steps.  She'd had it hanging on her wall for many years, and now the silks are doing that late 19th century silk "thing" of shattering and crumbling.  So before I show you the detail photos, take a moment to appreciate it from a distance, in all its glory.......

May 10, 2020

A Blast from the Past

The other day, I met up with a quilt I'd made over 30 years ago and forgotten!

I got a text from one of the people who grew up a few houses away from me.  She's been doing lots of sorting and clearing out over these last couple of months.  In amongst her son's childhood items, she found this quilt, and asked if I had made it.  At first, I didn't remember having made a baby quilt for her.  But when I scrolled down further to see the photos, I recognized it immediately.

Wow.  Hee, hee.

I made it in 1986, about 7 years after I learned to quilt.  It was a pretty popular pattern at the time.  A Google search came up with Garden Trellis, Garden Twist, and Around the Twist.  Around the Twist sounds very familiar, so I think that was the name as I learned (and forgot) it. 

And yes, at that time, I signed all my quilts and crafty items with those little name tapes.  The name was suggested by one of my friends, a pun if you will.  "Handmade" becomes "Ann Made" - see?  I ran out of "Ann Made" business cards a long, long time ago, but I still have some of that tape tucked away in a drawer, and I still have scraps of some of those fabrics in my stash. 



It's this kind of color play and geometry play that are a big part of what intrigued me about quiltmaking - and has kept me going all these years.   I still love green and I still love little spriggy prints the best, like the background white print.   So, it was a very pleasant walk down Memory Lane.  And I'm posting about a crib quilt just under the wire, as it's still just barely Mother's Day here. 





April 28, 2020

Quilt Restoration Workshop Announcement


Sadly, Martha Spark and I are canceling our Quilt Restoration Workshop which was to be held this July 23-25, 2020. We have potential plans to offer the workshop again August 19-21, 2021.

Please keep in touch here and via our other social media sites for new information.  In the interim, we’ll be working on new content to share with you and to stay connected through our shared quilt restoration tales.

To see what we had planned to teach this summer, and hope to teach next summer, visit my website.

If you or your friends would like to be on our contact list for 2021, please send your name, email and cell phone # to either of us at our email addresses below. We’ll make sure to put you on the list!

Contact:
Ann Wasserman - annquilts@comcast.net
Martha Spark - mitkusalu@frii.com





April 17, 2020

Brilliant Stars

Wow.  This quilt is just wow.  It's one of the wow-iest quilts I've worked on.  I love it.

Here's how the owner came to acquire it:

I don’t collect quilts or even know how to use a sewing machine. I just really liked the quilt colors and patterns.....when I saw it in an antique mall in Columbia, MO (I honestly love Orange as a color). So much so, that after leaving without it I regretted it. The following Monday I was back at work and just called them on a whim and made them an offer and they agreed to ship it to me. 

Well, what a fun story!  I love that the quilt kept calling to him from half way across the country and waited for him to call the dealer!

March 30, 2020

Texas Star with a Surprise


In some ways, this cheery quilt is a typical 1930s-40s quilt.  But not all ways.  Read on....

The quilt has a favorite look of this era, a huge collection of multi-colored print scraps on a white ground.

It's a bit different in that it's not one of what I see as the top 3 scrap quilt patterns from this era - Grandmother's Flower Garden, Double Wedding Ring, or Dresden Plate.  Texas Star is not rare, but still not one of the top three.

What really makes it a one-of-a-kind, at least in my experience, is the quilting.

March 16, 2020

When an Old Quilt Needs a New Home

The quilts in my collection are not pristine museum quality quilts by any stretch of the imagination.  Sometimes I've bought quilts that are not, well, very sturdy anymore.  (For example, the stars quilt that I have been gradually replicating.)  And sometimes lovely people give me very, uh, well-loved quilts.


Here's my most recent such acquisition, given to me at a recent quilt study group meeting.  It had been found at a sale at closing time, in the discard pile because no one had wanted it.  One of the quilt study members had rescued it, and when she spread it out to show everyone, my first thought was that I really, really wanted it but didn't want to jump up and down and blurt out "I want that quilt!  Can I have it pleeeease?!  Me, me, me!!!!"  And then, much to my surprise, I was hearing her say that she really couldn't take anything new into her house and did anyone want it!  Well, yes!

February 20, 2020

Pinwheel Quilt - The Family Story and Photos

 
I did a major restoration job on this heirloom quilt.  For before and after photos, close-ups of the fabrics I used, etc. read, Pinwheel Quilt - The Fabrics and The Repair.

The quilt owner supplied the history and this great family photo.

Here's the who's who:
"The old couple on the left are my great grandparents Col. Mark and his wife Nancy Wayne Mark. Several of their children are in the photo. My grandmother, Millie Mark Fitzgerald is standing directly to the right of two of her brothers. My mother is the little girl on her brother’s shoulders. They had moved to a farm near Portland from Jamestown, North Dakota after my grandparents separated. I think the photo must have been taken over 100 years ago.  These three women each had a hand in the quilt. "

Read on!  The family zig-zagged across this country.  It's quite a tale.

Pinwheel Quilt - The Fabrics and The Repair

This quilt measures a whopping 93" x 109" !  The blocks are about 11 1/4".  I think many of the fabrics date to the 1860s and 1870s. 
 before restoration

after restoration

The good news is that this quilt is a beloved family heirloom.  For amazing family story and photos of the four generations of women whose lives are intertwined with this quilt, read Pinwheel Quilt - The Family Story and Photos.

The sad news is that it is a victim of the caustic nature of early black and brown dye processes.  Many of the early dyes added metals like iron to the dyes as mordants, the substances that help the actual dyes adhere to the fibers.  These metals have destroyed the fibers over the years.

February 12, 2020

Announcing Our *Quilt Restoration Workshop*

My restoration buddy Martha Spark and I have been planning our brand new Quilt Restoration Workshop for the past year.  And now - here we are - venue, schedule, a pretty flyer, and registration forms, ready to go!   All the details and registration forms are on my website.


Date:
July 23 - 25, 2020
Three full days of lectures, quilt study, practice sewing, and much more.

Venue:
Ye Old Schoolhouse Quilt Shop in Cedarburg, WI.
A lovely shop specializing in reproduction fabrics, situated in a destination town of antique and art shops and home of the Wisconsin Quilt Museum.
Lodging in nearby Grafton, WI.

Instructors:
Well, those of you who read this blog know that I've been restoring and conserving quilts for my customers for many years now, nearly 40 in fact, and wrote a book a few years ago (see sidebar).  Martha shares the same longevity in her background, with the addition of several jobs and training with museum textile collections.

We are eager to get more folks interested in and learning about the art and craft of saving our collective quilt history.  There are lots and lots of wonderful quilts out there with wonderful stories, and the more we can save, the better off the world will be.  As we all know, quilts are just that special!



January 27, 2020

Two Quilts that Connect 1635, 1897, and 1998

Well, folks, the 1890s quilt I researched for several years and then exhibited last winter is, as they say, the gift that keeps on giving.  (Check the highlighted links for background on the quilt and it's story.)


Last spring, a woman brought me a rail fence quilt to repair.  It had been made for her by her grandmother.  A few days later, as I was looking over the quilt as part of making an estimate on the repairs, I discovered that the grandmother had signed and dated (1998) the quilt.  Lo and behold, her last name was a name of someone on my research quilt.


Can you guess where this is going?!

Grab your favorite beverage (mine would be a cuppa tea) and put your feet up - it's story time!

January 20, 2020

The Solar System Quilt

 

I am happy to announce that my daughter, aka my darlin' daughter, just finished making a gorgeous quilt.  She's always been an artist and a crafter and now a great DIYer, but as far as fiber goes, she's been much more smitten with crochet and clothing than with quilting.

But quilting made its big debut because a new baby needs a great quilt.  The new baby in question is her boyfriend's brand new nephew.  The boyfriend loves astronomy, and the two of them planned a solar system quilt to introduce the new little one to his new home.

January 10, 2020

A Tale of Two Quilts

 

Just about three years ago, I posted about a quilt I repaired.  The great-granddaughter who brought me the quilt for repair wrote the story of the quilt and its maker, and sent photos, all of which are included in my post.  The pattern is Pointed Tile, and both the great-grandma and the great-grandpa were quite handy with all sorts of needlework and crafts. 

Christina Waldman found that post and wrote to me about a Pointed Tile top made by her grandmother that she was quilting up.

Well, she's finished the quilting and written a most lovely story on her blog.  She perfectly captures the love and memories that make family quilts so special.  She's included tons of details, the kinds of things small children notice, which I find especially touching.

It's fun to see these expressions of the personalities of two different women and to read about their lives:

The story of the quilt I repaired.   

The story of the top that Christina quilted. (These photos are hers.)

And here's Christina's grandmother.

I totally recommend reading both posts.  They'll warm your heart, and make you glad that you're a quilt-lover.





January 6, 2020

My Happy Holiday Sewing


We had just a few holiday plans, no travel, no guests, and so I decided that sewing on all sorts of back-burner projects of my own was The Thing To Do.  It was so fun!  Here are the results.

The farm.
Another (could it be the last?) quilt in my Something From Nothing series.  This one's been in the planning stage for nearly two years, taking tiny steps towards construction.  It entered full-out construction mode during a fiber retreat in October.  And now it's done!  (It's made with plastic produce bags.)

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