Tuesday, 22 November 2011

An American Quilt in Guernsey

     It may be that only dyed-in-the-wool quilt anoraks will not be surprised when I tell you that last week I made a visit to the Channel Island of Guernsey, a not inconsiderable distance from Cumbria, just to see a quilt. Add to that the fact that I’m notoriously averse from leaving home and you’ll appreciate that there must have been a very special reason indeed for me to make the trip.

    That’s how special The Ogier Wedding Quilt, which occasioned my visit, is. The quilt, dated 1842, is now in the collections of The Guernsey Museums and Galleries, and I was privileged to have it taken out of storage so that I could examine it. The accompanying ‘flat shot’ will give some idea of the over-all effect. Some more detailed shots show the outstanding needlework skills which created it. But this quilt is just one of many outstandingly beautiful quilts which were made in Ohio County in the early to mid C19th, some of which are documented in Ricky Clark’s book: Quilted Gardens, Floral Quilts of the Nineteenth Century. (Published in 1994 by Rutledge Hill Press) The style combines pieced blocks and trapunto, in this case alternate blocks and borders being trapunto. Infill is very finely worked stippling.

    What is extraordinary about the Ogier Wedding Quilt is that, although it was made in Ohio, it is now in Guernsey. The objects of my enquiries are, precisely, to establish for whom was it made and how and when  it arrived in Guernsey? I began this research in 1997 when a friend of a friend, hearing that I was interested in old quilts, told me about it. The reason it has taken me so long to get round to pursuing my research begins with the fact that between 2002 and 2006 I was working on books continuously, then on other research projects, then gardening etc. etc. Poor excuses, I know. When I know more, I’ll share it.
(Photographs courtesy of Guernsey Museums and Galleries and Robin Le Feuvre.)