Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Some quilts and Bardstown KY

Joanne's quilts
Our host in Bardstown was Joanne from The Homestead B&B. By her own admission, Joanne says it is impossible to describe her place properly - and we agreed. The house is one of only three in the area that survived the civil war. Joanne purchased it some 13+ years ago and as an avid collector, has filled it - literally - with all sorts of things. The house itself is also her "shop" where you can do a tour or look through the place - if it has a price tag on it, then it's for sale!

Joanne has a number of quilts, surprisingly not for sale, strewn over benches, chairs and railings throughout the house. Some of the quilts in the house are not "old" as such, but have been made in more recent years by a friend, in her nineties, who uses fabrics that are ... older than the maker. The quilts are made completely by hand ... and Joanne then acquires them. Others, of course, are simply very old. The tray in the front of this picture contains (everybody cringe) a left over piece of cut up antique quilt. It seems that it is quite acceptable when the quilts get "old and worn" to cut them up - we found evidence of small rugs and "blankets" in the doll's house, made from chopped up bits of antique. I am not a poker player ... so I think my cringe factor expression was leaking all about the place when I kept finding "bits" of quilts around the place.

Door hangings ...

Quilts adorn doors - everywhere throughout Joanne's home. I did take my white gloves (you never know what you might get to see on such a trip) but they stayed in the suitcase - everything gets handled here - and I did resist the urge to fondle - but I did wash my hands first. Perhaps I am just not used to being in the presence of such aged objects - I felt obliged to be so careful with them - yet most places we visited, quilts were taken in and out of storage and tossed around the room for all to see - with lots of love I might add - but handled just the same.  This particular quilt was beautifully made - I loved it. In spite of its age, it felt "fresh". 

Below are two pics of a quilt made by Joanne's grandmother - from hankies - hand pieced and stitched and now behind glass in the hallway that leads to the guest rooms. The guest rooms were added onto the original homestead in the early 1800s to they were way more modern that the rest of the place!

Hankie quilt
Twelve hankies were joined with sashing - although there appears to be a join in the middle that I couldn't figure out what had happened. In any event, it was pieced and quilted with contributions from different aunties of Joanne's. A beautiful piece of work.

Close up of hankie quilt

 The quilting has been completed in diagonal rows - and while it's not the sort of thing I'd rush out and start making now, I marvel at the quality of work and the sense of history and family it oozes. Is ooze the correct word?

Quilt made by slaves
This is the quilt made by slaves - I think from The Homestead area itself - comprised of course, thick and scratchy fabric stuffed with raw cotton from the plantation area. This quilts hangs from a railing above the kitchen - which it shares with taxidermied crows and a few other things. I climbed to the upper level - another incredible experience in its own rite - and was surprised by the sheer weight of the quilt. Heavy! It has been quilted diagonally - and there are several holes where the raw cotton can be seen.

Close up of quilt made by slaves
A close up shows patches, fraying and places where the fabric is so worn the strands of weft or warp struggle to hold back the compressed cotton. I really struggled with this - the history, the stories and the matter of factness about slavery in the 'south.  Pictures of the Homestead slaves - including their age, state of health and "value" adorned the walls - it IS the history of the place, I just felt uncomfortable immersed in it - my head wouldn't shut down.  Al I could see was the shackles ...

Hexagon quilt ...
This quilt took up a fairly casual residence on the back of one of the benches at The Homestead. It has been made by Joanne's friend, again out of antique fabrics - and has been pieced and quilted entirely by hand. I hope that when I'm in my nineties, I can still thread a needle!

I inherited a couple of shoe-boxes of hexagons from my aunt, Maxine - and she "inherited" them from a customer of their Pharmacy in Sydney many years ago (Both the pharmacy and inheriting the shoebox). I've been plugging away at joining them over the past 2 years or so - and am inspired to complete the project - at the rate of one flower per train trip to Brisbane, averaging one trip per week ... hmmm ... I might be hand sewing when I'm ninety after all.

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