The Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History

This exhibition is a combination of quilts made by or collected by Mary Schafer a quilter that helped keep quilt studies alive between WWII and the revival of quilting in the 1970’s. During her lifetime, she was involved in many aspects of the quilt world including: collecting, designing, quilting and preserving quilting traditions. Her legacy is found in some of today’s quilters, such as Joe Cunningham and Gwen Marston who wrote the book, "Mary Schafer and her Quilts." Gwen Marston also wrote “Mary Schafer, American Quilt Maker.” She was honored by the Quilters’ Hall of Fame in 2007, shortly after her death.

Two quilt names by Mary caught my eye because of the stories associated with the block. First, Lafayette Orange Peel, which was derived from the myth of Lafayette slicing an orange into 4 parts to share with others at an honorary banquet. After he removed the four orange peels, a woman requested the peels which she arranged into the quilt design. She then filled the quilt with fleur-di-lis to represent the French Marquis Lafayette.

Another quilt Burgoyne Surrounded, used the colors red to represent the British Redcoats and blue the Revolutionary US with the blue “breaking through the lines of red.” In the quilting she selected a Maltese cross to represent King George. In both cases, it was an intriguing way to bring the history to life with the graphic design.

We saw this exhibit which is installed until August 13, 2017 at the Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle. The quilts are fun and educational, and this intriguing museum is an added bonus. There is more hanging from the rafters than on display in some museums. This exhibition “A Legacy of Quilt History” is a Michigan State University Museum/Great Lakes Quilt Center project. The exhibition is available for travel, so if you are unable to make it to Pennsylvania, consider bringing the exhibition to your neighborhood. Finally, if seeing the quilts in person isn’t a possibility then there is a virtual exhibition here. Enjoy!

 

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