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Visit to Ohio Historical Society Exhibit posted: 10/6/2003
by Dori Hawks Printable Page
Category: Reviews Method: All Series: On the Road
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"A Stitch In Time"
Ohio Historical Society Quilt Collection

A trip to Columbus, OH would not be complete without a trip to this wonderful museum. With over 400 quilts in their collection, the quilts on display are rotated, so, that the quilts exhibited during one visit will be different at the time of your next visit. Some of them has never been displayed and are seldom seen by the public. Also, the abundance of various other exhibits relating to Ohio, assures that your entire family will be entertained while you are visiting the quilts. Within the quilt exhibit area there is a table set up for the younger generation to have "quilt play" There are a series of shapes (squares, rectangles, and triangles) made of colorful hard plastic, that can be arranged to form "quilts". In the same area are quilt related storybooks and a rocker with a quilt draped over it, so you could read to your children.

"A Stitch In Time" exhibit quilts "stand as silent testimony to Ohio quilters and the quilt traditions begun and practiced here for the past 200 years. For the quilters of today and tomorrow, they give inspiration and encouragement to continue creating Ohio's great quilting stories."

The quilt that greeted me when I walked into the quilt exhibit area was a quilt entitled "The Pride Of Ohio" by Mary Borkowski from Dayton, Ohio. It was made in 1962 and is 72" X 92".

In the year she made this quilt, Borkowski avowed that she loved "every stick and stone and hill and valley in Ohio." Her pride and passion are evident in this quilt she made to honor John Glenn's flight into space. She symbolizes Glenn's hometown, New Concord, with the star in Muskingun County (The state of Ohio in the center of the quilt has each county outlined and stuffed with batting using trapunto); the seven American astronauts with the seven (embroidered) carnations, Ohio's state flower; Glenn, the third astronaut in space, with the three carnations at the top; the eight Ohio presidents with the eight Great Seals; and Ohio, the 17th state with 17 stars (in blue along the sides); the cardinal (state bird), the buckeye tree (state tree) and the letter Os (in trapunto along the top edge). The quilting stitches are spaced to represent the rainfall on Ohio.

Mary Borkowski was one of the early quilters to use fabric and thread to express personal and political thoughts in quilting and later thread painting. The Smithsonian, Nixon Library and Museum, Dayton Art Institute, Akron Art Institute, Zanesville Art Institute, Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio, and other private collectors own some of her works.

Other quilts being exhibited in the museum included:

  • A quilted Palampore made in India between 1775-1800 for the European Market A very large piece measuring 95" x 102" is printed and dyed cotton was purchased on the East coast and brought to Ohio by early settlers. It is a complex piece consisting of mordant painting and dyeing.

  • The next two quilted articles were elaborately quilted petticoats. One was a printed fabric still in tact (18TH Century). The other was a wool petticoat that had been taken apart and made into a 47" x 67" quilt by an unknown maker between 1800-1825. As petticoats, these were worn under dresses for warmth.

  • One of more intriguing quilts was a whole cloth quilt made from a blue resist paste and indigo dye on cotton. It is a bold blue-on-white brought to Ohio in the later 1780's that has scholars puzzled. How and where it was printed is not fully understood.

  • There was a white and tan stenciled quilt made by Hannah Long between 1835-1845. It was 78" x 94" and featured a very elaborate design.

  • There were over 20 quilts and quilting/sewing supplies and tools on display representing the time period of 200 years. (Ohio celebrates their Bicentennial in 2003) One of the more recent quilts was one by Lois K. Ide, "Zebras To Pineapples," made in 1990 for the Hoffman fabric company yearly challenge.

  • In another area of the museum was a special exhibit of some of the Lois K. Ide Collection, included the pixel image of Lincoln made by Ide and quilted by Anita Shackelford. It also included her quilt entitled "World Peace" which was the design used for a 1993 UNICEF greeting card.

2003 Dori Hawks
Curator: Elice Ronsheim

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