Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Southern Spin: Kentucky Stars

19th-century quilt
Believed to be made by Lura Eyestone's mother. Donated to ISU Museum.

While looking through the Illinois Quilt Museum's collection on the Quilt Index I came across this silk star quilt.

It's seen better days; silk is so prone to deterioration. Jan Wass, former curator, noted it's predominantly green (although it looks brownish here) and bound with a pink silk ribbon.

Lura Eyestone is famous in Normal, Illinois where a one-room school museum is named for her. She was a teacher at Illinois State University in the first half of the 20th century.

The Lura Eyestone School is on the college campus.
Lucky for us Lura's mother blessed her with an odd name so she is easy to find in the digital world. I had a hunch as to where Lura was from based on the quilt's style.

But I was wrong. Lura was born in 1872 in Bloomington, Illinois, which is where she is buried. It doesn't look like an Illinois quilt. The quilt is probably older than Lura so what about her mother?

Her mother Martha M. Johnson Eyestone is
buried near her. Martha, born in 1853, could have made the quilt.
But the date is not so important to me as where it was made.

Find-a-Grave tells us:
BIRTH 2 Jan 1853 Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky

I KNEW IT! That is one Kentucky quilt. I bet Martha or someone in her family made that quilt in Kentucky.

Bardstown is in Nelson County southeast of Louisville and way southeast of 
Bloomington/Normal, Illinois.

Mountain Mist Pattern

A star with points of four diamonds always catches my eye as I am ever on the lookout for the missing Kentucky quilt that won the 1933 contest at the Chicago World's Fair, published as Star of the Bluegrass by Mountain Mist after the fair. Their pattern included a leaf pattern to stuff.

Quilt dated 1938 with stuffed work quilting
Made from the pattern published after the Fair.

Stars pieced of silk and quilted closely have a Kentucky connection.

The older Eyestone family quilt is in the same pattern as the 1933 World's Fair winner.

Jan noted that the blocks are unpieced and the stars are created out of the sashing between them,
the same as the winning quilt. The Eyestone star is quilted simply but densely with double or triple diagonal lines. No stuffed work, however.

Why do I think Kentucky? Here are two quilts that have formed my thinking:

Silk star of 4 diamonds per points made at the 
Morton home near Russellville, Kentucky.
Collection of the National Museum of American History-Smithsonian

Silk Star of 9 points with stuffed work in the plain squares, 1837-1850.
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Attributed to
Ellen Morton Littlejohn & Margaret Morton Bibb.
Made at the Morton's Knob Plantation near Russellville, Kentucky

These quilts from Russellville are so much alike it is hard to keep them straight.

Not only are they elaborately stuffed
they feature similar stuffing patterns...
For example: the feathery leaf in the border area of the Smithsonian's quilt...

...also in the lower border rectangle visible here on the left side in the Met's quilt...

is similar to the stuffed work in the cotton 1933 World's Fair winner.
Here's a kit ready to piece into the stars.


One way I keep the two stuffed-work silk stars straight is by the star pattern: The Smithsonian's has 
four diamonds in the points

The Met's has nine.

I'm focusing here on the silk stars. The quilting deserves about six posts. It was done by two enslaved seamstresses, Ellen Morton Littlejohn (1826–1899) & Margaret Morton Bibb (ca. 1832–ca. 1910). Read more about them at the Met & NMAH links.

Merikay Waldvogel and I wrote a book on the winner in the 1933 World's Fair contest about 25 years ago. We still think about that quilt. When we saw the Littlejohn Quilt in the Met we were astonished at the similarities between it and the winner. The woman who entered the quilt in the 1933 fair (she commissioned it) must have seen the Littlejohn quilt.

See a post about the star pattern:

And see a post about more stuffed work quilts from Russellville, Kentucky.

Marti Phelps of Prince Frederick, Maryland made this small silk quilt inspired by 
the Smithsonian's quilts for an AQSG Quilt Study on stars.

 Kentucky had its own regional style within the general region of "South."

See our Facebook page: QuiltHistorySouth

Friday, November 15, 2019

Twins: Mariner's Compass & Princess Feather

Illustration by Olga Heese Bogart for the cover of
Needlecraft/Home Arts magazine in July, 1939.
The quilt alternates a mariner's compass with a princess feather block.

The artist was possibly inspired by this quilt in  Florence Peto's book the same year.  Peto called it Princess Feather and Sunburst. "The bold design and excellent workmanship on the quilt were influential in its awards of three New Jersey state prizes."

Peto's photo features this quilt on the cover of a Newark
Museum publication in 1973.

Attributed to Catherine Ann Fitzgerald of New Jersey.
Gift of Vivian Boylan Gordon of Nutley, New Jersey in 1926 .
 Gordon was Catherine Fitzgerald's granddaughter and her
mother was another Catherine Ann Fitzgerald married to a Gordon.

The 1948 museum catalog copy, which tells us the donor's grandmother and her sisters made the quilt. "From 1861-63 Mrs. Fitzgerald lived at 343 Washington Street. Her Husband, Joshua Fitzgerald was in business in Newark from 1838 until his death in 1856."

The museum displayed the quilt about 8 years ago 
and Barbara Schaffer took some great photos.

Looks like Turkey red feathers, perhaps appliqued in white sashing or 
over block seam lines.

Floral vine border (cut from the same Turkey red print?)
The red seems to have faded a bit over the past 40 years but it's still
a spectacular quilt.

Notice how the feather grows out of the border.

Rose Wilder Lane showed it and gave a pattern in her 1963 Woman's Day Book of American Needlework calling it "Prince's Feather and Rising Star (also known as Princess Feather or Ostrich Plume and Rising Sun)."

The quilt is unusual but not unique. 

A twin

From Tom Woodard & Blanche Greenstein's inventory, pictured
in the 1980 Quilt Engagement Calendar.
Almost identical but instead of red a blue print.

When one is superimposed over the other the comparison is striking.

Perhaps each of the sisters made a quilt in the pattern.

Catherine Ann Boylan Fitzgerald (1809-1863) had two sisters: Maria Brownlee Boylan Doremus and Osee Melinda Boylan Fitzgerald, all daughters of Aaron Boylan of Newark. Osee's son James Fitzgerald was a well-documented Methodist bishop. The Fitzgeralds seem to have been in the varnish business.

Catherine's grave:

From the Pat and Arlen Christ Collection

The idea of a four-armed feather between pieced circles:

The same idea but not so showy.
From New Jersey and Barbara Schaffer's New Jersey Pinterest board

With all those patterns and photos in the mid-20th century I am surprised I have so few copies of the Fitzgerald quilt in the picture files. 

Jane Hall of Raleigh, North Carolina, 2006
Jane won the state prize in the Land's End Quilt Contest in 2006.

Jane said she thought the quilt in the Woman's Day book was "the most beautiful thing I'd seen!"
 "I had to draft the compasses and the large applique Princess Feathers. I found a large floral print with a dark blue background and selected coordinating prints for it. I wanted a variety of prints, predominantly dark and similar to the old prints (although the original was done in reds)...Several friends pieced a block for the quilt as part of a group. "

Mary Chalmers, Wilmar, Minnesota, 2006 
from the Minnesota project and the Quilt Index.

Mary's label says she used the Woman's Day pattern. (It's a great pattern but if you are looking for the pattern in the used book market you want the Woman's Day box of patterns. The patterns are not actually in the book.)

And here's Barb Vedder's 2012 quilt, obviously inspired by it:

Barb Vedder's 2012 quilt

Better color here. She won first prize in hand quilting
a few years ago at the New England Quilt Festival.

1866 dress of Catherine Boylan Fitzgerald's, 
also given by her granddaughter to the Newark Museum.

See Barbara Schaffer's post here:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Quilt Style: Partial to Prussian Blue

Prussian blue is a mineral dye, discovered about 1800 and put to
good use by cotton and wool printers as the decades went on.

It produces a variety of blues, maybe a little warmer and certainly more
adaptable to multi-color printing technology than its
rival blue indigo.

The color was novel in the U.S. in the 1840s. Quiltmakers
loved it.

And so do we.

Always looking for reproductions.....

Edyta Sitar Laundry Basket Quilts
Something Blue