April 4, 2012

Mary's Musings on the 2012 Textile Seminar of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

I recently had the privilege of presenting a program called "Quaker Quilts of the Shenandoah Valley" at the 2012 Textile Seminar of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA).  According to MESDA's printed materials, the museum is "the preeminent center for researching, collecting, and exhibiting decorative arts made and used by those living and working in the early South."  Their four-day Seminar, beautifully produced by the organization's outstanding staff, was titled "This Work of Mine Will a Long Time Last: Needlework and Textiles of the Shenandoah Valley". This year, MESDA took their biennial event 'on the road' to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  The main site of the Seminar was the auction gallery of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.  Beverley and Jeffrey Evans extended gracious southern hospitality throughout the events of the Seminar.

Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates auction galllery.  Quilts from the collection
of Beverley and Jeffrey Evans.

Highlights of the Seminar included lectures about textiles and the material culture of the Shenandoah Valley.  Participants also enjoyed field trips, visiting several museums as well as private and publicly-owned historical homes.  There were so many textiles on display for Seminar participants to enjoy and discuss.  These included historical samplers, coverlets and, of course, quilts!

Privately -owned quilts of the Shenandoah Valley.

Antique and reproduction quilts and coverlets.  Private Collection.

There was so much to see and learn.  The quilt lovers in the crowd especially appreciated a method used by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society for their quilt turning: volunteers lifted quilts that were piled on a bed, working their way from top to bottom.

Quilt Turning at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, Dayton Virginia.

Although the focus of the Seminar was not Quaker quilts, we want to share two more images of  an historical quilt with our followers.  The quilt you see below was the oldest shown by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.  Note the zig-zag pattern in the sashing and borders, a feature observed on many historical quilts of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Quilts courtesy of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, Dayton, Virginia.

Topping off the experience was an invitation to a buffet supper in a beautiful historical home.  Delicious food, beverages, and conversation flowed well into the evening.  As our readers can imagine, it was richly rewarding to spend so much time sharing and exchanging ideas about historical textiles with like-minded souls.

Mary Holton Robare

(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare 2012


  1. That sunburst quilt is lovely. What beautiful fabric. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I wish I had been at this seminar! What wonderful photos.