Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Birmingham Thistle

I realized the other day that I had not taken a photo of this quilt.  I started it over 20 years ago but didn't put the last stitch in until 1995.  Familiar story, probably.

My little quilt was inspired by this one:
It's too fragile to hang for a photo.  In fact, if you look directly above the center block, you'll see the pale yellow stem of the block above--undoubtedly, it was once a comparable green.

This quilt was made by Dorothy Williams in Birmingham, Michigan, circa 1910--so I'm celebrating it's birthday!

A couple decades ago I taught at Chee Dodge Elementary north of Gallup with Tammy Somers Ashley, Dorothy's granddaughter. For a year or two we car pooled to Chee Dodge.  One afternoon I was at Tammy's apartment and saw this quilt on the back of her sofa with a cat lounging on top of it.  I admired the quilt, and we looked at it more closely, and Tammy told me what she knew of its history.
The quilt has thin cotton batting and a solid white backing of a slightly coarser weave.  Dorothy quilted it with "Baptist Fans".

I attempted to encourage Tammy to care for it gently. I thought it was such a treasure and that she was very lucky to have such a legacy from her grandmother.

That Christmas, in honor of her quilt, I made Tammy some sofa pillows from the same pattern.  At the same time I presented her with the pillows, she presented me with the quilt.  We laughed about the similarities to O. Henry's short story "The Gift of the Magi."

I've cared for this quilt quite gently--but nevertheless, some of the patches are disintegrating--and I think the yellow that used to be green is even more faded than it was, despite the fact that this quilt is almost always inside a dark closet.

Here's another shot of the small quilt I made in honor of Dorothy's larger one:
The slightest change of camera angle seems to be yielding huge changes in color today.
I'm thinking I may need to challenge myself to make another quilt like this.  I had penned favorite quotations all over the front and back of this quilt with a violet Pigma pen, but despite the fact that this quilt has never had prolonged exposure to sunlight and has probably been laundered only a few times, the inscriptions are becoming nearly impossible to read too.

Yep, might have to find time to make another.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...