In 2009, Alan Tremain received a $2,500 scholarship from The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. to contribute to the cost of his visit to USA earlier this year. As documented on his application, Alan’s main aims of the scholarship were to finalize practical applications for a quilt conservation, restoration and preservation thesis, knowledge acquisition to create a feasibility study for the establishment of an independent national quilt judging standard, and to observe and document quilt museum management, storage and exhibition principals. He wanted to interview prominent quilters as well as those involved in the historical preservation of quilt history like the creators of Mormon Trail Centre in Nebraska. As well, his aim included reintroducing Australian Quilt making to key museums, institutions and resource centres in America thus fostering greater exchange and interaction between our guild and exhibiting museums and quilt groups throughout the USA as we approach our 30th year.
Alan's major purpose for the trip was to attend a nine day Nancy Kirk quilt restoration workshop in Omaha, Nebraska. He researched and acquired quilts, quilt tops, fabrics and patterns with a focus on the American Mid West. He also wanted to view quilt collections held by individuals and in both state and local museums in his travels.
In the state of Nebraska, Alan spent time at the Durham Museum in Omaha, the Mormon Trail Centre in Pleasance, the International Quilt Study Centre and Museum and the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln. He then travelled to Golden in Colorado where he visited the headquarters of Primedia, publisher of many quilt magazines, and viewed their QNL cover quilts exhibition, visited many historic houses, viewed a quilt at the Coors Brewery made from their ribbons and had access to some of the quilts in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum's archives by helping them move to a new location. With Judith Trager he was also able to view some private quilt collections in Boulder. When he visited nursing homes to track down old quilts and their stories from their owners, he was lucky enough to be given some quilt patterns, quilt tops and fabrics.
Alan also took advantage of his time there to buy some quilts, quilt tops, Mountain Mist patterns, 1930s diecut quilt kits, cheater cloth fabrics from the 1940s to 1960s, quilt blocks and a number of feedsacks, all of which he showed us. We were very interested to see the crimplene quilt made from blocks of crossed tulips that was given to him by an 85 year old ex-dressmaker he visited in a nursing home.
For those interested in increasing their knowledge of old quilts, Alan recommended the Barbara Blackman “Clues in the Calico” e-book, “Quilts of the Golden West” and the “Fabric Dating Kit Book” by Cindy Brick, and the Quilt Study books that have been published for each state in USA. For removing stains slowly in textiles, Alan uses the Herbon Prewash Stain Remover which is available from health food stores.
Alan gave advice on the care, conservation and presentation of lace items, items of clothing, quilts and quilt tops that had been brought along by the workshop attendees.
As a result of his trip, Alan has increased his store of research notes and photographs, and hopes to contribute to a national standard for quilt research.