Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On the last Saturday of our trip, I abandoned my family here


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.


Brenda said...

good choice. I would have gone for the ROM instead of the tower. thanks for posting the pix. I don't think I'm going to get to Toronto to see it in person.

Dianne said...

I am so glad you were able to go and see this exhibit. How lovely to see the work of women's hands and hearts from so long ago.

Robin Quilts, etc. said...

Thank you for sharing the photos. They are beautiful quilts.

paulette said...

Wow!! These quilts are incredible!! The workmanship is stunning!! Thanks for sharing!

ayumills said...

wow Thank so much Krista for sharing those beautiful quilts you saw there. I think there will a big quilt convention next month down here in the south bay area.. maybe I should go there!
It seems like you had a great trip! I really enjoyed seeing nice pictures from your trip.
Oh and I'm sorry it's a bit late, but happy belated birthday! The cake looks so enticing.

Amy Friend said...

Thank you for sharing the pictures. I like that display method as well (you know I love talking about that sort of thing). You had such a lovely vacation!

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

Looks like a wonderful exhibition with a lot of history. Thanks for the tour!
My daughter has been in that tower. Luckily she went to Toronto with her father; I'm not big on high places with glass floors.-)

Micki said...

The display of quilts is wonderful. I especially loved the Dresden!