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Monday, August 9, 2010

American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection

My Carpenter's Wheel has nothing to do with this post, but I don't have any pictures that do! And this is the last thing I finished, for the Sue Ross BOM, so it'll have to do.

This weekend I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see "American Quilts: Selections from the Winterthur Collection." The exhibit was good, but no photography was allowed, which is why there are no related photos with this post.

There were some incredible quilts, and the more closely you looked, the more you saw in them. A lot of people looked at the quilts for a few seconds and moved on. The things they missed! One white wholecloth quilt with the densest quilting I've ever seen was actually made from two quilted petticoats. Can you imagine that much work going into your underwear?

A number of wholecloth quilts were done on floral fabrics, which apparently was common for the time period. One was quilted with a feathered border, an inner border and then clamshells through the center. The quilting was hard to see on the floral fabric, and I am amazed the quilter would put that effort into something that wasn't noticeable unless you really studied the quilt. And how did she see her markings? What did she mark with?

Another quilt was made with two sizes of half-square triangles in a large variety of fabrics with newspaper sandwiched between the layers. You could see the newspaper in places where the fabric had deteriorated. I think the woman who made the quilt was married to a ship's captain so she had access to fabric from around the world, and the exhibit pointed out some of the interesting pieces in the quilt.

For hexagon fans, there is a beautiful example on display. I noticed one teenage boy pointing out to his mom how the quilter had mirrored fabric choices across the quilt. He was quite impressed with her placement. I was impressed he'd looked that closely.

My husband walked up to me when I wasn't a quarter of the way through the exhibit to say he was done, but he was going to show me his favorite quilt and then go look at what else was in the museum and to take my time. I did!

The museum is beautiful, shaped reminiscent of a sailboat and located on Lake Michigan. After viewing an impressive amount of art inside, we got coffees and sat on the terrace and enjoyed the view, the perfect summer weather and a swarm of dragonflies.

One last thing from the exhibit that made me smile was this quote from the write-up for a lone star quilt that you see in the exhibit advertising: "Despite its skillful construction, this quilt will not lie flat." We've all been there!

There's still time to see these quilts. The exhibit runs for a few more weeks, through Sept. 6.

1 comment:

Cardygirl said...

Sounds like a great exhibition. Love your carpenters wheel!