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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gerald Roy and Quilt Collecting

I just got my copy of Fon's and Porter's "Love of Quilting" July/August 2009 issue. I have to say that I usually read quilting magazines such as Quilting Arts, and Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and the AQS and NQA periodicals. I signed up or Fons & Porter's to help out my quilt guild, and I am almost always surprised to find a couple of things I really enjoy even though most of my quilts aren't the type which you usually find in this magazine.

This month's happy article for me was Gerald Roy's "This Old Quilt: Odd bits: What makes a Good Collection? ". I immediately thought back to when I had the pleasure of meeting Gerald at his booth at the Lowell quilt show. I was lusting over several items, and walked away with a few antique blocks. He and I got into a very good discussion of antique quilts and since he was on the committee, he spoke with me about what I thought of the show.

Last year, I emailed him to ask him his opinion something and he was very kind and wrote back immediately. He is top notch in my book--knowledgeable, well spoken, and seemingly happy to speak with anyone one on quilting.

I recommend this article (pages 12 - 16) to anyone who is interested in collecting quilts. In it he speaks about how the Pilgrim and Roy quilt collection came about, what was the criteria for their collecting. I have a small antique quilt collection. One which came about by accident. Certainly, after taking care of quilts professionally, the last thing I wanted to do was to collect vintage and antique pieces. They were just too fragile. (When I worked with Linda Baumgarten at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, she collected 20th century satin souvenier pillows for the same reasons.)

However, I inherited some, was given others, and then there were ones I just couldn't walk away from. I intended to share with you one of the smaller pieces, but I can't lay my hands on it just now, so instead I am sharing an early 20th century sateen and muslin block in the pattern variously called Mill Wheel, Odd Scraps Patchwork, English Wedding Ring, Vice President's Block and Old Fashioned Wedding Ring.

I have a lot of antique blocks. Some I buy because I want them to show problems that quilters often have, either in color, texture, or placement. I didn't want to make bad blocks, and I certainly didn't want to hold up blocks which were poorly done by current quilters, so anonymous, forgotten orphan blocks seem to fit the bill.

Then, there were others which I loved because of the workmanship, fabric, color or some other thing. This block I am using to illustrate this post is one of those. I'm a sucker for this shade of orange and its close relatives.

Two things in particular in this article stuck with me, and I'd like to share them here:

"Color and placement, accidental or intentional, is what caught our eye and earned this quilt a place in the Pilgrim/Roy collection. The color alone would insure this quilt's success, but the odd arrangement takes it one step further. It's unexpected, inspired and artistic.

An anonymous nineteenth-century quilt maker said, 'We make our quilts as perfect as we can, and if we make a mistake and don't catch it, then it is there forever. God has better things to do than supervise our quilt making.'" (page 14, Gerald Roy, "This Old Quilt: Odd Bits", Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, July/August 2009).

So, make quilts. Do your best, but don't be afraid to make mistakes. Those "errors" may be what puts one of your quilts into a collection.

At the end of the article, referring to the request for patterns of the quilts illustrating his column, Gerald Roy said "While there are no commercial patterns available for any of the quilts in the Pilgrim/Roy Collection, I hope they inspire you to create one of your own. Think what a compliment that would be to the maker." Gerald, you are one class act!

While I attempt to make art quilts, or what sort of falls into the category of art quilts, I also love making traditional quilts as they connect me with all the quilters past. It is relaxing and a touchstone with women I've known, and women who I'm related to, and women who are anonymous and gone, save for the work of their hands.

Books by Gerald Roy include: Vintage Quilts: Identifying, Collecting, Dating, Preserving & Valuing by Bobbie Aug, Sharon Newman, and Gerald E. Roy

Quilts by Paul D. Pilgrim: Blending the Old & the New by Gerald E. Roy and Paul D. Pilgrim
Gatherings: America's Quilt Heritage by Kathlyn Sullivan, Katy Christopherson, Gerald E. Roy, and Paul D. Pilgrim
Victorian Quilts 1875-1900: They Aren't All Crazy by Paul D. Pilgrim and Gerald E. Roy
Quilts: Old & New, a Similar View by Paul D. Pilgrim and Gerald E. Roy

1 comment:

Susan Pardee said...

I recently was given a quilt I thought could date back to mid 1800s. I also read Fon's and Porter's magazine and emailed Mr. Roy. You are correct! He is a first class guy! He not only answered my questions, but did so immediately. What a treasure HE is in our quilting world!