I loves me a new exhibit opening, and this one is a beaut.
Contemporary Broderie Perse: An Elegant Revival
Tree of Life by Barbara Barber
Opening today at the New England Quilt Museum, this is a contemporary take on a beautiful technique. BONUS – the quilts from the permanent collection are of the vintage variety, so you get the best of both worlds! This from our PR maven Christina Inge:
Combining collage, fine appliqué, and fine quilting, broderie perse, also known as cut-out chintz appliqué, presents a high point in the art of quilting and deserves the admiration and attention of all who appreciate fine needlework. The technique emerged in the late eighteenth century when chintz fabrics were very expensive and only the very wealthy could afford whole cloth bed coverings made from large pieces of chintz. By cutting motifs out of a small amount of fabric, the quilter could rearrange them onto a large field of inexpensive plain cotton to imitate the designs on larger fabrics. Plain cream or white fields filled by fine quilting surround the trees, floral sprays, wreaths, urns, birds, and baskets appliquéd with tiny whip, buttonhole, or reverse buttonhole stitches. The style, which was very popular in the Middle Atlantic States and the South into the 1840s, largely disappeared after the 1850s. The exhibition, curated by Anita B. Loscalzo, presents 30 contemporary broderie perse quilts and several antique examples in order to familiarize viewers with the style and its history.
I’m still working on my little no-faux-bro but I think there is a workshop scheduled in October and I really should take THAT before I sit down and attempt this technique. (Especially after seeing some of these quilts up close – wowza!)
So I’m at work today, dealing with the auditors going up my colon looking for toxic bookkeeping practices from the last fiscal year, dealing with the “will you print” requests from co-workers (I have mad computer printing skills & have tamed the mega-copier to be my bitch), along with various and assorted other stuff that happens at a chronically understaffed institution. I had just called Eddie, my Bernina dude, and given him the green flag to send my Bernina motherboard to the hinterlands to be rebuilt and was feeling a little down and out, to tell the truth.
Then it happened.
Brianna, our wonderful curatorial intern, came flying down to the main floor of the museum offices and said (and I quote), ” I am not f-ing with you, come upstairs NOW.” I had no idea what was up but I knew she meant business. I skated upstairs to the workroom where Brianna and Laura were doing incoming condition reports on some broderie perse quilts for our next exhibit. Spread out on the table was a lovely, contemporary broderie perse quilt (that just means it was done recently, as opposed to being an antique) that stopped me cold.
IT HAD MY FABRIC.
My fabric that I found in my stash clean-out that I talked about in No More Faux Bro. The exact same fabric! I nearly fell over, giggling and squealing and gobsmacked by the coincidence. Brianna was there when I brought in my fabric earlier that week, and had seen my plans for attempting a broderie perse wall hanging. She was so tickled to see it on the exhibit quilt, and told me that it was made by a quilter in (I think) Washington state. I’ll get pictures if I can get her permission, and show you what she did with the fabric. Amazing! It was made circa 1994, so that is a good way of dating my “found” fabric!
I love how the universe just balances out sometimes. I was completely underwater with the demands of the day – and then that quilt showed up. I’m taking it as a sign to press on with the hand applique embroidery and see what happens. Until then, bon voyage, Bernina – you are off to heaven only knows where to the mother ship repair shop. Don’t forget to write…..
That is the name of my next project. Since the Bernina is off getting it’s 10 thousand mile checkup, I needed some hand sewing to keep me occupied. Additionally, since we’re all aflutter with the beautiful broderie perse quilts coming in to the museum for the next exhibit, I thought it might be interesting to try one myself. The true sign-from-God came when I found this piece of fabric during my Schooled by my Stash excavation. It isn’t as O R A N G E as it looks – for some reason my camera takes poetic license with color. Anyway, I’m nervous as heck cutting it up, but as my Yoda & Sherpa quilting guide Debbie explained to me, “Well, you can just sew it back together, you know….”
So I’m cutting it up in to bits and trying to arrange it so that it will look like a beautiful little tree coming out of an elegant pot. The background color is a burnt orange nubby lovely, but now I’m thinking I might put it on a cream muslin background and use the burnt orange for pieced borders. This, my very first attempt at broderie perse, will be a wall hanging when it grows up. Since I am not going to fuse it or use machine applique, it will truly be a “no faux bro” project. I figure by the end of it I’ll either love or hate needle turned applique. Either way, it is one quilt I’ll get to take of my bucket list.