so that I could take in the exhibit of turn-of-the-century African Canadian quilts at the Royal Ontario Museum. The display was a small one, but significant in the historical relevance of these quilts, and the care with which they've been preserved. This amazing quilt is almost 150 years old!
A pre-cursor to the Storm at Sea pattern? The exhibit documentation called it a 9-patch and went on to say that a 9-patch is made of 9 equal sized squares....hmm, not sure anyone reviewed that info because I don't think it is accurate. The hand-piecing and -quilting is, however, perfectly accurate! Take a look at this closeup.
Perfectly pointy points and to-die-for uniform stitches. The attention to detail and workmanship no doubt accounts for this quilt's amazing survival over so many years.
The quilts come from the southern Ontario community of Buxton, north of Michigan, where many black slaves from America settled. It's been called 'the terminus of the Underground Railroad'. According to the exhibit material, a charismatic preacher named Rev. King founded the community and it wasn't long before the women set up a quilting bee. One poster had this quote from a woman descended from the quilt makers "It was a gathering time for women, a time to share news, exchange recipes, tell stories..." Sounds just like any modern-day stitch group!
Two of the quilts were 'signature' quilts used to raise funds for community projects. If you made a donation, the women would embroider your name on the quilt. This way, a record of each community members' philanthropy was on display for everyone to see!
That Geo T. Kersey was the big spender, so his name was front and centre, in the largest letters. This quilt was badly discoloured, but aside from one small hole, still in amazing condition with all of the embroidery seemingly intact from 1929. Here's another signature quilt close-up (albeit a little blurry - the quilts were waving a bit with the airflow and no flash was allowed):
I liked this display method, so thought I'd share it with you in case you have an heirloom quilt that you need to keep sticky-finger-free in your home!
And finally, a newer quilt from the 40's. Dresden plates are making a 'modern' comeback amongst designers and bloggers. I love the colours in this one, obviously made by machine.
I really enjoy seeing quilts of such significance hanging in public galleries for all to appreciate. These beautiful works of art have incredible stories to tell and it's wonderful that the Buxton Historical Society has been able to gather them back for preservation and teaching.