September 19, 2015

The American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Indianapolis

More than 230 members of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) met for their thirty-sixth annual Seminar in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 9th through 13th.  Lynda was there and will share the experience with you in this and our next two posts.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, downtown Indianapolis, 1904.  Source of
photograph: Wikimedia Commons.
The mission of AQSG is to promote the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies and to provide opportunities for study, research, and the publication of works that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects. The main purpose of the annual Seminar is to provide a venue for researchers to present their original research.  This year we heard four research papers, two of which concerned Quaker quilts.
Linda Baumgarten, curator of textiles and costumes at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia, presented a paper titled "Vase-Pattern Wholecloth Quilts in the Eighteenth-Century Quaker Community" and Terry T. Terrell, an independent quilt researcher, presented "The Elizabeth Stanton Inscribed Quaker Quilt" - a quilt made in Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.  The third  presenter was Gail Bakkom whose past career in theatrical costuming led to her interest in quilts.  Her research topic was "Candlewicks: White Embroidered Counterpanes in America, 1790-1880."  Amanda Grace Sikarskie, holder of a Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University, was our fourth presenter with "Reconsidering Erica: Erica Wilson and the Quilt Revival."  These four research papers are published in AQSG's research publication titled Uncoverings 2015 that is provided to all members of AQSG.  Non-members may purchase it by calling the AQSG office at (402) 477-1181 or mailing an order form available on the AQSG web site to American Quilt Study Group, 1610 L Street, Lincoln, NE 68508-2509.  The web site is at
A highlight of the Seminar was a talk given by our Keynote Speaker Janneken Smucker, an expert on Amish quilts, an author, and an historian.  Her topic was "The Quilt Man and the Collection" which detailed the work of David Pottinger in collecting and documenting Amish quilts in Indiana.  A highlight of a different sort was a talk by Kaye England who reminisced about her quilt collection, aging, and life in general with a brand of humor that would put any stand-up comedian to shame!
Paper presentations and other talks represent only one aspect of the attractions of Seminar.  Those attending can elect to go on tours which this year included a visit to Kaye England's farm and antique quilt collection, a trip to Marion and Muncie, Indiana, to visit the Marie Webster House, the Quilters Hall of Fame, and the Minnestrista Cultural Center, and a viewing of exhibits and "behind the scenes" holdings at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
One of the most interesting quilts seen at the Indiana State Museum was a fragile silk and ribbon quilt viewed in the conservation laboratory.  The quilt was completed in 1876 by Margaret E. (Maggie) Frentz in Floyd County, New Albany, Indiana, when she was twenty-two years old.  The quilt features the political campaign ribbons of those running in the Presidential and Vice Presidential election of 1860.  The ribbons are dyed fuchsia and blue and set in a U.S. flag configuration surrounded by silk pieced blocks in the Broken Dishes pattern.  The flag displays thirty-six white silk stars.
The Lincoln Flag Pieced Quilt, completed 1876.  Indiana State Museum.  All
 photographs of this quilt are by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
Those named on the campaign ribbons include Abe Lincoln, H[annibal] Hamlin, S[tephen] A. Douglas, John Bell, Ed[ward] Everett, and John C. Breckinridge.  One ribbon, given a prominent position beneath the date 1876, features O. H. Strattan, a local man running for County Clerk.
This quilt is seldom displayed because of the fragility of the silks and the fugitive nature of the fuchsia dye used to color the campaign ribbons that make up the stripes of the flag.  These ribbons were dyed with the first synthetic dye, a fuchsia developed in 1857 and called "Perkins' Mauve."
Seminar also offers its attendees the opportunity to enroll in several Study Centers.  Lynda attended a Study Center on Prussian blue fabrics presented by Anita Loscalzo and another presented by Dawn Cook-Ronningen titled "Nineteenth Century Tape Bindings and Braids on Quilts, Coverlets, Bed Hangings and Other Household Textiles."
Anita Loscalzo during her Study Center on Prussian blue fabrics. 
Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
A quilt featuring several Prussian blue fabrics.  Photograph by
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
One of the highlights of every Seminar is a live auction of donated quilts conducted by our volunteer auctioneer Julie Silber, a quilt dealer and appraiser from California.  Not only is Julie a member of AQSG, she is a nationally known quilt expert and has a dry and engaging sense of humor.  She makes our auction fun each year and helps, through her efforts, to raise needed funds to support AQSG and its activities.
Julie Silber (with microphone) and helpers showing an applique red and green quilt being
 auctioned to raise money for AQSG activities.  Photograph by Lynda Salter Chenoweth.
This brief description of Seminar content (there's a lot more!) is provided to encourage those of you interested in the study and history of quilts and related topics to consider joining AQSG and enjoying our next Seminar which will be held in September, 2016 in Tempe, Arizona.  You can go to the web site shown earlier to read about the benefits of membership in AQSG and how to join.  We'd love to see you in Tempe!
Source of information about The Lincoln Flag Pieced Quilt at the Indiana State Museum
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.





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