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quilts and textiles


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The Great Lakes Quilt Center
The Great Lakes Quilt Center/Michigan State University Museum is devoted to:

• recording oral and written history documenting quilting and the personal histories of quiltmakers through projects like Quilt Treasures and Quilters’ Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.)
• expanding and maintaining a research collection of information on Great Lakes Quilting through projects like the Michigan Quilt Project Inventory and the Quilt Index
• building and caring for a collection (now numbering over 500)
• initiating educational and exhibition programs to bring quilting history to a wider audience
• increasing awareness of textile conservation issues and supporting preservation efforts of endangered textiles
• identifying and recognizing quilters and quilting traditions from diverse regional, social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds
• honoring outstanding individual quilters and quilt groups
• publishing information on quilts, quilters, and quilting

For the first time ever, Michigan State University Museum collections are on exhibit overseas with American Quilts from the Michigan State University Museum, opening January 28, 2003 in Tokyo and then touring three other cities in Japan. Kokusai, one of Japan’s leading exhibition developers, funded the exhibit that features 60 quilts from the Great Lakes Quilt Center.

The Great Lakes Quilt Center is affiliated with the Center for Great Lakes Culture and is a Regional Center for the Quilt of The Alliance for American Quilts. The Alliance is a national organization established “to further the recognition of quilts; to preserve the history of quilts and quiltmakers; and to establish The Center for The Quilt, a place that actively communicates with people about quilts and quilting.”

Photo of reproduction of Stove Eye quilt

Stove Eye Quilt

Mary Worrall, designer and piecer;
Kari Ruedisale, machine quilter
East Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan
Cotton with cotton/polyester batting
74” x 94”
MSUM Teaching Collection TC2001:12

The “Stove Eye” reproduction was made in a similar palette to the original. To create a greater texture within the top, however, batiks, rather than solids were used.
The blocks of the “Stove Eye” are similar to those found in the traditional “Drunkard’s Path” pattern whereby two fabrics are connected with curved piecing to form the blocks.

Photo of original Stove Eye quilt
This quilt only appears in the exhibit as an image on a text panel.
Stove Eye Quilt
Mary Atkins
Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Michigan
77” x 86”
MSUM 7132.1
Michigan African-American Quilt Collection

Mary Atkins, who grew up in rural Arkansas, was about eight years old when she learned to quilt from her mother who made quilts for family use. According to Atkins, her mother taught her and her sisters to quilt in order to keep them out of mischief after they finished school or after doing their chores on the family farm. “There was no playing after work, but I’d sit down on a stool and begin piecing.” Mary Atkins found inspiration for this design when she saw a bedcovering in a television advertisement for waterbeds. It is unknown why the quilter title this “Stove Eye.”

Photo of reproduction of the Bar Sampler quilt
Bar Sampler Quilt
Beth Donaldson, designer;
The Wednesday Group, machine piecers;
Kari Ruedisale, machine quilter
Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan
76” x 81”
MSUM Teaching Collection TC2001:5
Beth Donaldson took one look at the original “Bar Sampler” quilt and knew it was a perfect project for her pals, the Wednesday Group who share a fondness for “old-looking quilts.” Members of the group who made this top are Pat Clark, Pat Linnell, Jackie Shulsky, Mare Van Tilburg, Carol Schon, Beth Donaldson, and Norine Antuck.

For this project, Donaldson tried to be as faithful as possible to the original colors used. In some cases, exposed seams made it easy for her to determine how much a color had faded, in other areas she had to guess. Donaldson enjoyed the project: “We found if fun to compare the reproduction with its crisp shirtings, double pink and soft blue strips, and strong red setting triangles to the well-used original. The quilt block in the center is also one that we couldn’t find documented in our sources. The closest we could come was a ‘Jackknife’ variation.”

Photo of orginal Bar Sampler quilt
This quilt only appears in the exhibit as an image on a text panel.
Bar Sampler Quilt
Maker Unknown
ca. 1890
Provenance unknown
Cotton with cotton batting
77” x 84”
MSUM 3694.1
Gift of Dr. Paul Love

Little is known about the provenance of the original quilt. Even though the quilt is faded and has damage, it is an interesting example of this popular pattern because of the way in which the maker set the blocks on point, changed the scale of the blocks from the interior to the exterior strips, and used a zigzag setting in the center.

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