Marilyn I. Walker discusses at length this phenomenal quilt in her book Ontario Heritage Quilts. The scope, scale and detail in this quilter's work astounds me. She was a skilled needlewoman, had a keen eye for composition, and her use of fabric and ability to give the illusion of three dimensions and create realistic representations through "silhouetting" with fabric is remarkable.
This quilt also leaves me full of questions. What story was she telling. Did this quilt accurately depict the different stages of her life. There are castles and battles and flocks of birds flying through the air and what appear to be gentlemen out for "The Shoot". There is a scene of courtship (with chaperones), a room with artwork lining the walls showing a refined life, and scenes of country life including the hunt and social calls.
It is the bottom quadrant that further intrigues, with what looks like a deteriorating castle and a life of leisure. But as you get towards the lower half of that quadrant you see a life of farming, both men and women holding implements, and a strong sense of community and camaraderie. There is a shamrock and man playing fiddle in the bottom right corner. Some figures are only basted on, the quilt never completed. We are left wondering why she did not finish it.
We are so fortunate to know her name. She proudly added it to the wall of frames in the upper quadrant. Walker interprets it as Jane Reagan, but when I look at it I see the name Jane Reazon. I wonder what the significance of 1827? Was this a marriage quilt?
Look at the detail of the scissors on this table in this enlarged detail of the quilt and then look back at the quilt. This table is to the left of the fireplace in the top quadrant. My gosh those scissors are small!
Walker writes: "Jane probably brought the fabrics and threads with her when she came to Canada. Imported fabrics and threads of this quality were not available in remote areas. Several pieces of fabric still bear the Royal Seal of Approval on their backs. Fabrics had to be of top quality before they were given this approval."
The scenes and materials indicate she likely came from a very privileged background. What a change it would have been to have travelled the ocean and start a new life in wilds of Canada.
Unfortunately the quilt had not been cared for by the time Walker came across it and it was in a severe state of rot, which is a shame. It has such a story to tell. Fortunately it was recorded in photographs.
Thank you so much for joining me this year. It has been such a pleasure to have you stop by and to share these quilts with you. I would love it if you would leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this year's Twelve Quilts of Christmas.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
After seeing the exhibit "War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military Fabrics" at the American Folk Art Museum this fall (it is on until January 7th and if you can't get to the museum to see it, there is a book available), I wanted to include this spectacular piece in this year's celebration.
We are fortunate to know who was the maker of this quilt. Corporal Noonan fought with the British Army during the Crimean War. This technique and quilt style has a strong British heritage and this is likely where he learned about it. Making a quilt like this is incredibly hard work as the fabric is thick and it would take strong hands to draw a needle and thread through it. There is no batt or back and the nature of the fabric and the technique means there is virtually no visible seam allowance.
Scott Robson and Sharon MacDonald write in their book Old Nova Scotia Quilts, "Corporal Noonan never completed his quilt. He died on February 1, 1874, aged 38, as a result of exposure after rescuing a boy who had fallen through the ice of the North-West Arm."
This quilt is magnificent and sobering on many levels. It is an honour to be able to share it here with you.
Look at this sweet quilt. If I was at the museum where it lives, you would have to frisk me on the way out ... I'd be the one wearing the lumpy oversized raincoat!
I know I should not covet it, but there are so many things to like about it. The colours in this one make me sigh in deep appreciation. Look at those two denimy-blue nine patches ... if you took those out, you would definitely miss them. And that red in the quilt, it makes the whole thing squeal worthy!
The quilt has a natural divide down the middle and both sides beautifully balance the other off. Don't you love how the pink sashing goes up and down on the left and from side to side on the right. This treatment gives the composition lots of visual interest; your eye just keeps wandering around the quilt taking it all in. She has also deftly used striped fabric to create movement.
Sigh ... this one is on my to make list now too!
There is only one word for this quilt ... masterful. Okay there is another word ... stunning. Okay, maybe one more ... mesmerizing.
There is not a single mis-step in the design of this quilt. It deserves a long session of study just to understand why the values work as well as they do together. Careful placement of lights and darks and mediums together create a wonderful sense of depth. And the piecing is so beautifully executed.
As I look at it I am reminded of how unforgiving working with solids can be. This quilter was not deterred by that. I think she deserves a standing ovation for this one. What about you, what do you like about this one?