Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cost of a Crazy Quilt

Let's forgive them for they do not know of what they speak ... read on...

"Cost of a Crazy Quilt

A certain girl has pieced a crazy quilt containing 9,000 bits of ribbon. It must have taken at least three minutes' sewing to the piece. That would take 27,000 minutes - an hour a day for a year and nearly three months. In that time this foolish girl might have learned a modern language, became an accomplished cook and house-keeper, studied no end of history and science, or have done benevolent and educational work among the ignorant and poor that would have lasted to eternity - Exchange."

May 7, 1884
Newspaper Editorial Page

The fellow(s) that wrote the above never lived long enough to see the Aids Awareness quilts, the breast cancer quilts, the alzheimer quilts, the memory quilts moms make which keep their children warm years after she has passed, and the countless other quilts made to raise funds, awareness, or to honor a loved one.

Nothing "foolish" or "ignorant" about that.

Quilt Collections: Passing them On

Sea Wings to Glory
Mountain Mist Quilt Kit
Author Collection

You are building a collection of antique, vintage, and new quilts in certain motifs or classifications. What will happen to them when you are gone if your family is not as interested in collecting quilts as you are?

On my online history list a topic recently surfaced about donating quilts to museums and how much “control” you have over the collection once it is donated to the museum. Do you have the right to make certain stipulations when you donate them? What happens when the museum decides to part with your item? Will they give it back to the family? Do you even have a right to ask them to do that? Also what if you can’t find a museum interested in taking your entire collection? Like you, I would like to see my quilts in a museum, but what if you are unable to find a home for them there.

It is hard to see a collection you built be taken apart because of the emotional investment we have in what we choose to collect.

But take heart – if you collected that “motif” or classification of quilt, there is someone down the road who is building their personal/private collection that will want that quilt, the provenance, and the story of how it came to you in their private collection. Let someone else experience the same joy you had in acquiring “that quilt.”

Choose a good quilt broker/dealer you have faith in – give her or him the provenance, sell the item through them and, if you are financially able, set up a scholarship fund at your local high school or college so generations of kids will have the opportunity to go to college on your collection – you can put a stipulation on that scholarship that if a family member related to you comes of college age that particular year, the scholarship goes to your family member.

Or give the money to one of the quilt museums to fund quilt related programs/storage or an organization like the American Quilt Study Group for an annual grant/scholarship?

Quilts are like our children, they are ours for awhile, but no matter how much we want to we are not allowed to keep them forever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NRA Eagle Quilt Research

Author's Collection

I am without a doubt an eagle quilt junkie and I am always collecting research information about eagle quilts. Those of you who are familiar with my web site Illinois Quilt History at know that I am also interested in quilt and textile history research and I always like to share the ways in which I find information.

Yesterday I was on in the newspaper portion of the search engine and in the keyword search I put in “eagle quilt” and then later “NRA Eagle Quilt.” More on the result of that search a little later.

I know of three NRA eagle quilts in existence - one is at the West Virginia State Museum, one is in private hands in Minnesota, and one is at the FDR Library at Hyde Park, New York. Personally, I am hoping there are more out there and if you do know of another one please share its whereabouts with me There is a possibility of one in the Massachusetts area, if anyone knows anything about that NRA Quilt, please e-mail me, as I know someone with a special interest in that particular quilt.

It would also be interesting to know if there was an actual quilt pattern commercially produced with the blue eagle logo or if creative quilt makers created their own quilt pattern from scratch. If you have any information on that I welcome an e-mail on that too.

I love all the NRA Eagle quilts, they are as important as any historical document on that subject. Each tells a story about a time period in American history, why they came into being, and of course there is the story of the creative soul who made them. I love stories and I like endings to stories.

Back to the newspaper search….The NRA Eagle Quilt search only netted two hits. The first was a dead end. The second wasn’t. It was the newspaper database for (The) San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas). A light bulb went off in my head and I said to myself (yes I said it out loud and scared my dog) that is where the FDR Library NRA quilt came from. I know this because I had requested a picture of that quilt from Michele at the FDR Library some time back.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
Hyde Park, New York

NRA Quilt --FDR Library - Description

“Quilted white sateen bedspread, ca 1933, (MO 53.1091). It has six copies of the NRA Blue Eagle symbols embroidered in red, white, and blue. The background of the quilt is decorated with dollar signs. It comes with red, white, and blue fringe around the side and bottom edges. It was presented (sent) to FDR by Jaske Bros., San Antonio, Texas, date unknown, quilt maker unknown.”

That “quilt maker unknown” always haunts me whenever I see it. Please – Please – Please find an archival safe way to sign your quilts – attached a piece of muslin to the back of your quilts with the provenance information. Quilt Makers name, city, and state, date, who you make the quilt for, and why you made the quilt. Sorry – being haunted makes me a tad preachy, but please sign your quilts.

ALLRIGHT! Enough already – what did I find from the NRA Eagle Quilt search? A newspaper article and photograph of the quilt maker holding the FDR Library NRA quilt before it was sent to FDR.

The name of the article is "New Deal For Wintry Nights." The caption under the picture reads, “This NRA Quilt, made by Mrs. J. A. D. Robinson, 73, of 157 Burr Road, above is for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When the quilt is sent to the president, it will have attached to it the names of persons who contribute to a fund for a new roof for the nursery of the San Antonio Mission Home and Training School which is operated at 223 South San Saba Street.

“New Deal for Wintry Nights” (The) San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas)
September 10, 1933.

NRA Eagle Quilt at the FDR Library

Quilt maker: Mrs. J.A.D. Robinson (age 73)
Date: 1933
City and State: San Antonio, Texas
Quilt Made For: President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Quilt Type: Presentation Quilt

Research information is out there – it is waiting for you. Researchers don’t give up hope of finding the answers you are looking for. It took me two years to find the name of an art needlework designer for a company, but once I found her all the rest came flowing in, including a photograph, but I’ll save that story for another time.

You can do this too! Press on and keep working towards your goals!