Beautiful quilts from the Ohio County Historical Society‘s collection are on display in Rising Sun, Indiana through April 10, 2021. The setting is wonderful, and so are the quilts. The majority of the 37 displayed quilts, comforters and spreads are made by women of the county and include examples of signature/inscribed quilts, applique quilts, and pieced work/patchwork quilts. There are also display cases featuring charming miniature/doll quilts, dolls and and furniture.

“Flo and Edna” quilt show, 2019

I have a personal fondness for the Historical Society’s display space in the former 1850 Clore Plow Factory. The high ceilings and heavy wood beams of the space transport you to another time as soon as you enter the building. And what glorious space it is to hang quilts! I was fortunate to have my family quilt show, “Flo and Edna. Hoosier Quilters. Family. Friends“, on display here in Spring of 2019.

I’ve always thought the pieced quilts had the best names – like “Broken Dishes”, “Hole in the Barn”, “Birds in the Air”, and “Monkey Wrench” – to name a few. You may have seen patchwork quilts in these and other patterns before, but every quilt maker made it their own with their choices of fabrics, colors and borders.

My favorite quilt variety in the Historical Society display, however, is the signature/inscription quilt, and there are several stunning examples. Some are quilts, and some are technically “spreads” – embroidered tops without batting/backing. Some inscriptions are simple (just a name in these two “Grandmother’s Fan” quilts), while others are major works of embroidery in every block (like the Rising Sun Methodist Church Fundraiser Spread.)

Rising Sun Methodist Church Fundraising Spread, 1893

One of the coolest signature quilt items (in my opinion) is a 3-ring binder holding 50 individual circa 1870 pieced blocks in the “Star of Many Points” pattern, all in a variety of prints with a muslin background. Papers with signatures are basted to the block centers. OCHS research on the names locates most of the makers in the town of Hartford within the county. For whom the quilt was intended is as yet a mystery – as is why it was never completed. Hmmmm. These are the makings of a romance novel mystery! Here are four blocks illustrating the pattern and the signature attachments. (Pardon the glare from the sunlight, but it was a spectacularly beautiful day today!)

Star of Many Points, 4 Signature Blocks

Applique quilts are also well represented. (This was my grandmother, Flo’s, favorite type of quilt.) A circa 1869 “Rose and Tulip” applique is stunning – simple and almost contemporary feeling in it’s execution. An early but undated “Morning glory” applique features a large central motif. A recent creation (2009) by the local Sunshine Stitchers club is a “First Ladies” album quilt and includes examples of most of the sewing and quilting techniques of the past 200 years. Not a vintage quilt, but a vintage inspired and executed one!

Young visitors especially will enjoy the small display cases of miniature/doll quilts, dolls and doll furniture. Some of the pieces are vintage, some reproductions, and some contemporary. I had the good fortune to meet with Judy Wright who was kind enough to tell me about the interesting components of the displays.

Judy and other community members of the Sunshine Stitchers quilting club loaned miniature quilts from their collections. Several reproduction dolls and furniture pieces are on loan from local members of Triple Crown Doll Club and Queen City Beautiful Doll Club. A locally crafted “Princess and the Pea” half tester doll bed is amazing!

“Princess and the Pea” bed

When we look at quilts, especially in a display or show format, we react to the colors used, the patterns chosen, and solids versus print fabrics. We see the quilting – hand stitched in these vintage quilts – but it’s often the back of the quilts that best showcase the hand quilting artistry. One day I’d like to see a show about that!

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One thing that makes my journey unique is that all of my interests are driven by a joyful and genuine curiosity. I delight in finding less expensive ways to make something or creative ways to enjoy something longer. Finding and creating joy - and sharing it - is core to who I am.