Yesterday was my last day to explore Bedford, Pennsylvania.
Mary was teaching a Broderie Perse Workshop to a group who had traveled in from South Carolina, using motifs from Mary’s marvelous Palempore panel. More on that to follow!
Anyway – while they were busy I had a couple of hours to myself and it was suggested that I make a morning of visiting the American Coverlet Museum right here in Bedford.
Was I ever in for a treat.
I have always been fascinated by textiles –from the time I was little, if it was made with yarn, thread, fabric –I was game.
While I don’t own any coverlets of my own, I am so interested in the history of coverlets in America, especially since many were made through the Appalachian region I call home. Just like the quilts we revere so much, in many cases these hand woven coverlets have been passed down from generation to generation, along with the story of the maker.
It’s a long name, and they have quite the collection. I spoke at length with Laszlo and Melinda Zongor, museum directors and curators and was told that the museum has over 1,000 American Coverlets in their collection, with about 60 on display at any given time.
I was here at the end of this run as next week they are changing things over to a new exhibit, animals in coverlets! I wish I was going to be here to see it as the artistry in these beautiful bed coverings is every bit as impressive as the finest patchwork quilt.
The “Common School” circa 1859!
The Museum is housed in the (1859) former Common School building at 322 South Juliana Street in Bedford, Pennsylvania. The building sits on 2 acres in Bedford’s historic district and is a short walk from the town.
Simple treadle loom, circa 1920
What did I learn about coverlets and weaving that I did not know?
Early designs were ONLY geometric, and it was a painstaking process of moving fibers with sets of treadles under the machine, and passing the shuttle through, and coming the fibers back in place, starting over again. It can take a long long time to make a coverlet in this manner.
In many early homes, EVERYONE was responsible for the weaving of cloth for clothing and household items…even the children knew how to spin or weave, and every spare moment including long winters were given to weaving.
Simple geometric design.
Before the invention of the Jacquard loom, coverlets were of a geometric design. Weavers had limited capabilities on multi-shaft looms.
There are many kinds of looms on display.
The forbearer of the punch card computer!
More info than you ever wanted to know!
After the invention of the Jacquard loom, intricate patterns of flowers, birds, houses, trains, stars, trees, figures of people, and other designs were possible to achieve by the village weaver. The weaver was only limited by the punch card designs.
Jacquard weave with signature and date.
The Jacquard looms also made it possible for the artisans to add their name and date to their work. They often also added the name of the recipient that the coverlet was being woven for.
John Wilden, Weaver.
York County 1841.
Recent coverlet by David Kline!
My favorites however?
The earlier simpler geometric designs!
((Does that surprise you?!))
I am fascinated by the bargello appearance!
So beautiful to behold!
I took many more photos than I can possibly place one by one in this post, so it’s time for the infamous Quiltville Slide Show!
Click the image below if you are unable to view the slide show on your mobile device. You’ll be taken to the photo album for viewing.
|Coverlet Museum, Bedford PA 2015|
If you are anywhere near Bedford, PA – please put the National Museum of the American Coverlet on your radar. The exhibits change out a couple of times a year, and these pieces of art are just fabulous. I’m so glad that these beauties are being preserved and displayed for us to enjoy.
I’m off to Boiling Springs, PA and the Allenberry Resort for the Quilt Odyssey retreat that is going on this weekend.
A whole new group of quilters to enjoy, and a day to wander my way to get there. Who knows what kind of fun I will find myself in!
Enjoy your Thursday, everyone!