- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spring 2019
Note from the Editor
Around the start of the year, I purchased a “guided journal for self-care.” It sounds fancy, but in reality, it’s just a basic journal with pre-formatted places to keep track of goals you’ve met, water you’ve consumed, and time you’ve allowed yourself to de-stress. In theory, keeping track of these things by way of writing them down each day holds you accountable. And I believed I could, so I did…for about three days. After which, the journal took up residence on my side table under another book and a scented candle, and there it continues to live today.
You would think that someone like me—for whom writing and documenting is so important—would be able to stick to something as simple as jotting down a few “self-care” milestones each day. But the truth is that I’d rather watch true crime documentaries and reruns of Law & Order after putting my kid to bed each night (those things should count as self-care, right? Even if I don’t document them).
Then there is my grandmother, who, in her mid 80s is still sharp as a tack and able to recall things that happened decades ago just as well as she can recall a conversation she had last week. I was reminded of this during a recent conversation with her regarding some family property. Not only could she remember the locations of things, and which member of the family owned what, but also that Property ID Number [fill in the blank] is the tract of land just west of Highway [fill in the blank] and it’s around two acres.
“How can you possibly remember that?” I asked her. Her reply: “It’s all right here on paper and I’ve read through this stuff a thousand times.”
Ahh…right…it’s documented. Just like the dates she puts on the back of photos; or the birthdays, addresses (both past and present), and phone numbers she keeps in her address book; or the family and community history outlined in a genealogy book she keeps in her coffee table.
There’s a reason she’s able to help her grandkids locate the address of a relative with which we’ve lost touch or piece together family history when we’re working on a project. Meanwhile, I still haven’t finished the baby book for my son…who is now seven years old.
For my grandmother, and so many in her generation, documenting things meant writing them down. Putting pen to paper and telling the story of the object or its history. And there’s such a lesson in that idea, even as it pertains to quilting.
We have a large number of antique quilts in our collection for which we know the quilt style or block and can determine its age (by studying its design and fabrics), but haven’t the slightest clue who created it. And what a shame that is! Someone put their love, hard work, and creativity into making something incredible, but without a label or paperwork or even a hand-stitched set of initials somewhere in the quilt’s design, it’s impossible to know who that person was.
So, maybe you’re like my grandmother and you document everything. Or, maybe you’re more like me and have much room to improve in that respect. Either way, I would strongly encourage you to document your quilts. Tell their story. Write it down. When did you make it? Why? What inspired it? Did you make it for someone in particular or for a special occasion or just because you loved the blue fabric? What techniques did you use? And put a label on your quilt!
If you’re giving the quilt away, include your documentation and stress to the lucky recipient the importance of keeping it. If you’re keeping it for yourself, document it anyway. One day, it will go to live elsewhere, and whoever receives it will be glad to know its story.
In this issue of Friends@Festival, we’ve included a piece about how to properly photograph a quilt. We’ve placed an emphasis on taking photographs for the purpose of entering your quilt into an exhibit or show, but the same principles can be applied to photographing your quilt for documentation.
You’ll also find the fascinating story of our “signature” quilt for the upcoming Quilt Festival Chicago in this issue. The gorgeous quilt, by Barbara Gonce, is part of an exhibit of quilts based on the original antique 1876 EMC Centennial Quilt, which was created to commemorate the founding of the U.S. in 1776. Without knowing its story (courtesy of documentation!), the group responsible for the exhibit might never have taken on the challenge of recreating it.
So, if you aren’t already documenting your quilts, you get to work on that! And I’ll get to work on finishing up that baby book.