Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Brush with History...

Such occurred this week...and a deep curtsy to fate I offer for it! Two textile treasures found their way to me.

The first is this glorious silk quilt, passed on to me by a lady in California.

The quilt historian Barbara Brackman described it thus, after seeing a jpeg of it:
"Boy it's a pretty quilt. I wouldn't call it a crazy quilt since it seems quite sane to me. I think an embroidered silk medallion, about 1880-1900 would describe it nicely."
In fact, it was made in 1890 by a woman named Eve Ollie in Buffalo, New York, so good call, Barbara!

It does have a few elements of crazy quilting to it though, namely, that there is no quilting or batting. But it isn't tied either! What is unusual is that traditional crazy quilt type stitching along some of the seams holds the front and the back layers of the quilt together.

Not all of the seams are embroidered...(click on the picture to see better). I don't think Eve was into embroidery, but she sure had a lovely collection of silks.

Even the backing fabric is of silk. See the stitching lines on the back?
I get goosebumps, going back in time into another woman's life, via her stitches and fabrics.
I will cherish this...

A very different scenario produced my other historical treasure...try to imagine, at least 60 or 70 years ago, women in Russia hard at work producing handmade bobbin lace for commerical sale...

This collection of bobbin lace was given to me by a very gracious lady named Kay Pauling. Her late mother-in-law left this lace to her in 1981; Kay had kept it all these years but decided to pass it on to me as someone who would use it.
What Kay didn't tell me until we met was that her mother-in-law was Ava Helen Pauling, the wife of the great 20th Century scientist, Linus Pauling.


photo from Oregon State University

Dr. Pauling won two Nobel Prizes - in 1954 for Chemistry and in 1962 for Peace. He was globally admired for his tremendous contributions to chemistry and for advocating peace. Dr. Pauling shared the spotlight in this latter endeavor with Albert Einstein.


Kay told me that Ava had purchased the lace during one of their trips to Russia.
So indeed, the wings of history have brushed me by, leaving the lace in my hands....

I wanted to find out more about it, so I scanned it and sent the image to Betty Pillsbury, the wonderful CQ teacher and friend (who used to make bobbin lace) and also to Lacis, the lace museum and textile supply shop in Berkeley, California.

Jules Kliot of Lacis wrote to say,
"An interesting collection mainly due to the attached labels.
The laces themselves appear to be handmade with the exception of the one on the extreme right.
Designs are generic and could have been made most anywhere. There are examples of torchon, Genoese, Cluny. all considered as "straight" laces.
There are many traditional Russian designs, but not in this collection."

Betty sent me some interesting links about bobbin lace, such as this beginner's guide. We thought this link on torchon lace described my lace, too. This site on English laces has more on the torchon lace.
Kay had told me the lace was of cotton, but Betty suggested it might be linen, and on closer look, I agree with her.

I am so grateful to Kay for entrusting this lace to me. It will be well used.

It's been another busy week, so no stitching of my own do I have to show...next week, hopefully, we will have a silk ribbon poppy!






21 comments :

Vicki W said...

I think I just read on Mental Floss this week that Linus Pauling is the only person to win two unshared Nobel prizes. The quilt and lace are both amazing! You must be over the moon!

Jean C. said...

Allie, the lace is wonderful... I don't envy you the fact that you will probably have to cut into it to use it though! I once had to cut into some Battenburg lace a gal had given me to make a dust ruffle with... it was all I could do to keep from thinking that if I made a mistake it was someone's hard word! Sorry.... I'm no help at all! LoL... Wonderful quilt... just gorgeous! Makes me think some of the fabrics I have would go nicely in a quilt similar to that!
Enjoy yourself!

Raspberry said...

This is all so gorgeous! I can't wait to see what you do with everything. :)

Plays with Needles said...

Pinwheels are one of my favorite patterns in sane quilting so to see this historical combination of a quilt is a feast for the eyes. I love the rectangles of pinks and blues; peppered with plaid...really fun.

And the historical info is really a testament to what a great caretaker your friends have chosen for their treasures...xo Susan

Kay said...

Two wonderful treasures, but as the wife of a chemist, I'm more impressed by Linus Pauling's wife's lace. It's also interesting to hear about the types of laces. i spent a lot of time in Vienna looking at the lace in the museum there, totally awed and fascinated. But since it's something you don't see that much, I've forgotten all the info I picked up.

Aida Costa said...

Oooooo, those are lovely treasures! They found a great home, it's nice to see the quilt and the laces being shown and enjoyed rather than folded in a chest somewhere. Reminds us all to use, display and enjoy our treasures.

I love the quilt! It may not be a traditional crazy quilt but the maker was obviously inspired by that style. I love her eclectic patching, it's wonderful! Like a scrap quilt and crazy quilt all in one. What a gorgeous backing fabric! Thanks so much for sharing the pics!

Judy S. said...

A fun and interesting post, Allie! Thanks for sharing your new treasures.

Pat said...

Oh, how gorgeous is that? Not to even mention the history of it all. Lucky you, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!! pat

Debra said...

Fate was smiling on you alright!

Rian said...

Very interesting. And what a fantastic quilt! I was intrigued at first about the cutouts in the lower corners, but I guess those are for bed-posts. I never thought about that before. I also never gave a lot of thought to lace, and the fact that there are so many identifiable types blows my mind a little. When you think about how exacting it must have been to make lace back in the day. Oh my!

Thanks a bunch for this! Have fun!

Lisa said...

I can't imagine a better home for such wonderful treasures!

Conni said...

WOW! Amazing quilt and beautiful lace! And what a great provenance for the lace! I read one of Pauling’s books on the efficacy of vitamin C many years ago – and it had a major influence on my understanding of the vital importance of nutritional supplements.

black bear cabin said...

What wonderful treasures! Im sure they will all be loved dearly and i cant wait to see the beautiful lace incorporated into your next project!

Deb H said...

Wow! You must feel very blessed to have been given such gifts. I feel blessed just reading about them!

FredaB said...

What treasures - both the quilt and the laces. They sure found the right person to enjoy and treasure them plus will use the laces.

Will be waiting to see something done with the lace. No presure here.

Hugs

FredaB

Barbara C said...

What treasures! I'm sure you will cherish them.

Guzzisue said...

beautiful gifts and I can't begin to imagine how long the lace took to make! I know how long it takes me to do an inch and even at many times quicker it is still a a lengthy process :-) but is was made to be used so don't feel guilty when wielding the scissors!!

Summerset said...

Wow - that's so cool!

Jacqueline Davis said...

Allie-

Love the historical connection! Too cool!

Anonymous said...

WellI have known your blog by this of Plays with needle and On one photo of your crazy quilt "crazy for flowers",(in the blog Plays with needle in may 09) I have noticed some pink flowers like net.......i should be happy (by curiosity) to know the name of the emploied stitches. I am french, so sorry, for the language!!Can you understand what means my question? Thanks
Anne
http://stitchinfingers.ning.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?screenName=56uvpce2ptnp
http://quilt007.free.fr
http://www.filsetmetiers.com/expos.php

Marg said...

Oh my! Reading this post, I got goosebumps. I love looking and hearing about treasure blessings like this. Reminds me of the 7 CQ blocks made my my grandmother (as a girl) that I found in my aunt's attic some years ago. Only one was finished (what the appraiser told me was likely her 'practice' block; it was smaller than the others, too), with her initials and the year: 1894. I have wanted to work on these blocks, but fear the fabric is now too fragile. Do you think this will be a problem with your lace? Any tips?