Gilding the Lily

Two hundred years of quilts
Gilding the Lily, an exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum that will run until December 30, 2017, is a diverse collection of quilts from private collectors, historical societies, American museums, and quilt artists that span more than 200 years. Novice and experienced quilt makers will be able to view a number of techniques used in quilt making that includes embroidery (hand and machine), thread painting, ribbon embroidery and other embellishments used by quilt makers. 
 
Early pieces of work on exhibit include a 1750 petticoat embroidered with crewelwork flowers that was turned into a quilt two generations ago, and an exquisite Odd Fellows Coffin cover from 1900 from the Pilgrim and Roy Collection. According to the exhibit’s curator Pamela Weeks, “The Odd Fellows are a fraternal organization similar to the Masons. The coffin cover was likely used for funerals of their members. The three interlaced rings are their international symbol. The bee skep/hive is another symbol associated with both Masons and Odd Fellows.” 
 
Among the contemporary quilters whose work is included in the exhibition is Rhonda Dort’s Second Chances. Dort, a third generation quilter, incorporates a number of embellishments to her quilts including vintage embroidered pieces, hand-dyed felted wool, needlework, and crochet and knitting. Second Chances, a hexagonal quilt, measures 36.5” x 40.5” with 46 full 3 1/2 “ hexagons. The quilt is made from damaged old linens, including doilies, dresser scarves handkerchiefs, crochet, laces, embroidery, and trims. The project took a little over a year to complete. 
 
Quilt maker Susan Stewart became fascinated with textiles and various techniques at an early age. Radiance, measuring 74”x 75”, is a machine pieced quilt. She said of her work. “I often include digitized machine embroidery in my quilts, and strive to make the embroidery an integral part of the design. The triangular machine embroidery design in the diamond star points was the inspiration for the entire quilt, as well as the determining factor for the size of the star points, the size of the small pieces diamonds making up the star points, and the size of the strips between the star points. I wanted to develop the secondary pattern created by the embroidery over the pieced top.” 
 
I’m So Tired of Cleaning Up Your Mess is part of Alaska-based textile artist Amy Meissner’s "Inheritance Project". Meissner started with her personal collection of domestic linens she received in the last four decades from other makers. Not knowing what to do with the vast collection of doilies and embroidery, she decided to crowdsource for more textiles—finished and unfinished pieces. The Inheritance Project, she writes on her blog “…an exploration of literal and conceptual inheritance, and my relationship to materials and makers. The work values the valueless, honors the hand and reveres the fragility of memory through an interpretation of inherited cloth's narrative. Because so much of this history is unknown, much of it is myth.”
 
To learn more, please visit www.nequiltmuseum.org.
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