February 28, 2012

Grandma's Nine-Patch

I'm writing about this quilt to illustrate that point that all quilts can be loved and be very important.  This quilt, which came to me for repair, is what's often called a "utility quilt".  That means, it's a quilt that was made from available scraps and made for use and warmth.  A utility quilt is considered the other end of the spectrum from a "museum-quality quilt".  A utility quilt usually isn't described in terms of spectacular design or workmanship.  On top of that, this quilt was in pretty bad shape, open seams plus loads of missing fabric and loads of missing batting, especially from the red gingham fabrics on the reverse and around the edges.

The special thing about this quilt is that it is owned by the grandson of the maker.  So even though its market value doesn't make investing in the repair a "sound" financial decision, the quilt does have tons of emotional value.

February 14, 2012

The Tapestry, Final Edition

I re-visited the tapestry this past weekend.  It has been hung back on its wall, and I assume is enjoying its view of the beautifully remodeled sanctuary, and enjoying the music of the grand new organ.  And all the while, the congregation gets to enjoy having its intricate beauty on view once again.

And here it is, the whole thing, full on.  Seeing it close up, lying on the tables while working on it was surely impressive, but being able to appreciate the design in its entirety.... Well, see for yourself:

February 5, 2012

Textile Stories

A train of thoughts prompted by comments about my tapestry adventure:

Wouldn't be great if these wonderful textile elders could sit around the hearth and tell us their stories!  Just imagine the places a 500-year-old tapestry has been, and the hands that have touched it and taken care of it.

While I was working on it, I was musing about the people who made this piece, and how they had no idea, of course, what the world it now lives in is like.  Just look at their clothes for starters!  What would any of them think of me bending over it and sewing, wearing jeans and a baggy purple sweater, no hat on my head!

Door Within a Door

Here's a fun little side story from my tapestry trip to Milwaukee.  

We stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel.  It was built in the late 1920's as a residential hotel.  They had a mini-town square on the first floor, including shops, a beauty salon, and a grocery store.  (I always read all the little booklets in hotel rooms.)

Have any of you ever seen a door like this one?  Here it is closed.

February 3, 2012

.... and now for something completely different

Networking is great.  A year or so ago, my art quilter friend Pat Kroth electronically introduced me to her textile conservation friend Patricia Ewer, just because.  And it turned into a wonderful adventure for me.

Patricia was hired to spend a week in Milwaukee, cleaning and remounting a tapestry for St. Paul's Episcopal Church.  The church had just installed a new organ and done a big remodeling job along with that.  The tapestry was removed during all the construction, and so this seemed a great time to do an assessment, spiff it up, hang it according to more modern techniques, etc.

Since Patricia's usual assistant was not available for a couple of those days, she called on me.  How wonderful!  So I read up on tapestry construction, and then had two days of vacuuming and stitching and learning way a lot more about tapestry and about being a conservator.  And we were set up in a lovely hotel with a delicious restaurant to boot!

The tapestry has been dated to the early 1500s, probably made in Belgium, which was the capital of the tapestry industry at that time.