Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jennifer Burton - 1930s quilts

27th February 2010 - Jennifer Burton will give a 30 minute talk about 1930's quilts and will bring along some of her 1930's quilts for us to see. Please bring along your own 1930's quilts or quilt tops or any you have made that are reproductions of or inspired by these quilts for the members' show and tell after her talk. Afternoon tea will be provided.
The talk will be held at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo in one of the Powerhouse Learning Centre rooms on the second floor at 2pm.

Soft Furnishings Project - Old Government House

Fabric Samples Thistle design for Drawingroom sofas

The Quilt Study Group of NSW visited Old Government House Parramatta on 10th October 2009. Fourteen members of the Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. visited Old Government House for the last event of the year organised by the Quilt Study Group of NSW. The building, which is home to one of the finest collections of early colonial furniture in Australia, has curtains, braids, bed hangings, mats and othersoft furnishings that were made by hand for the rooms on the ground floor of the house. Because of the expense of sourcing the soft furnishings from commercial sources, the National Trust of NSW decided to call for volunteers to make them instead. Thus was the five year long Soft Furnishings Project created. There are 20 or so volunteers who form the main team of the Project. They worked under the guidance of Dr James Broadbent, who sourced the fabrics, and Elizabeth Wright who worked on the designs. Some had existing skills but many developed new skills for the tasks at hand. These included painting on velvet, spinning cords for bell pulls, and the painstaking work of binding silk thread over vellum strips to form tassels. Rug making and upholstery skills were also required. The tassels and fringes, which would have cost thousands of dollars if purchased from European workshops, were all made by hand by the volunteers. After a very informative guided tour of the house four of the Soft Furnishings Project volunteers kindly took us back to the rooms where their work was exhibited and explained exactly how they had created the items. Back in the Soft Furnishings Project work room we were allowed to touch the items, and the ladies demonstrated how they had created these amazing braids, curtains, mats etc. Thelma, Sue, Nerida and Fran were all veryhelpful and informative in sharing their knowledge and experience with us. If you want to see the house and visit the Soft Furnishings Project room to look at their exhibits and source references, the volunteers for the Soft Furnishing Project are at Old Government House on Wednesdays between 10 - 2 pm.
Phone 02 96358149 to confirm the project volunteers will be there before visiting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The E. Dickens Quilt : Rare early 19th century quilt

Late in 2007 the NGV acquired, through generous donation, a rare and valuable ‘frame’ quilt about which very little was known. The quilt was given to the donor two decades earlier by someone who had, in turn, been given it by relatives who were also unacquainted with the original maker.
Quilting was a common pastime of genteel and middle-class women in colonial Australia, yet there are only a few extant examples of these quilts in Australian collections. Quilts of this type were particularly popular in the first half of the 19th century, with examples using similar fabrics and designs found in England (and subsequently Australia) from between 1800 and 1860.
A large medallion-style, pieced patchwork, the quilt comprises many graduating, linear borders around a central panel. The particularly impressive central design consists of appliquéd cotton chintz partridge and flower motifs executed in the broderie perse technique (a technique used to appliqué small flowers and leaves using a tiny chain stitch). While on the reverse, embroidered in black cotton crossstitch is the enigmatic dedication: E. Dickins / The Gift of Her Mother / Finished When 60 Years / Of Age.
Sadly for us, no date accompanies this dedication, although it has been suggested that the embroidered ‘signature’ may mean that the quilt was sent to an early Australian settler as a gift – a practice that has been previously documented.
When the quilt first arrived at the NGV it was in a fragile condition. Damp storage had caused mould and mildew to develop while the presence of iron in dye mordants had corroded fibres, resulting in areas of discoloration and loss over time. The surface of the quilt was badly soiled and despite initial cleaning with a low-suction vacuum, it still appeared grimy.
On the recommendation of our Textile Conservator a wet-cleaning treatment in de-ionised water was undertaken (to remove degradation products and to minimise their effect on the quilt in the future). The challenge, however, was the quilt’s large size. A tank was custom-built by NGV’s Conservation Art Technician, which enabled the quilt to be completely submerged. At times this required the assistance of nearly all the conservation staff! Yet the result has left the quilt in a much-improved state both visually and structurally.
Through the process of acquisition and a combination of expert opinion and curatorial knowledge, the NGV has also endeavoured to recover some of this quilt’s lost history.
A quilt is usually dated from the most recent fabrics used in it. In this case, we discovered that many of the printed cotton fabrics along the outer patchwork bands were similar to those seen in 1840s dresses from the NGV Fashion & Textiles Collection. The floral chintz was also found to resemble fabrics from the 1830s. The most exciting revelation, however, was that the central bird chintz fabric could be identified as an English furnishing chintz called Partridge and May Tree printed circa 1815, making our quilt a valuable piece of textile history.
While the name of the maker and the actual date of the quilt’s completion may never be known, it remains a rare surviving example of textile endeavour and a significant example of early domestic skilled handicraft.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Assyrian Australian Association: Textile Exhibition

29 September 2009 - 11 October 2009
To be opened by Smithfield MP Ninos Khoshaba on Saturday 3 October at 3.00pm.
This textile exhibition will showcase magnificent artworks produced by women of the Assyrian Australian Association meeting each week at Fairfield. It will be a good opportunity to see their unique work.
(Fairfield City Museum and Art Gallery, Cnr Oxford St & The Horsley Drive,Fairfield)